Louis Erard has dropped a second, limited edition entry into its artisan series, that focuses on offering traditionally high-end crafts at more accessible prices, with the Excellence Guilloché Main.
The guilloché Trompe l’oeil (or optical illusion) pattern on the dial is created at Swiss dial maker, Fehr, using a 100-year-old rose engine lathe, a machine controlled using hand and eye by an operator using with a series a cams, feeler, cranks and chisels, a craft which is a mixture of dexterity and experience.
Each of the 99 dials in the series are produced by the same artisan, helping them develop a vital rhythm when creating the unique pattern. As each one takes several hours to complete, engine-turned dials are traditionally used mainly at the higher end of the market by watchmakers such as Roger Smith.
Some manufacturers now use modern CNC machines to etch guilloché patterns on dials (or even stamp the pattern into the metal) and, while this is technically guilloché, with the word describing both the pattern and technique, a dial created this way is not as highly valued as one created on a rose engine.
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The 3D cube pattern chosen by Louis Erard and created at Fehr’s workshop in the watchmaking hub of La Chaux-de-Fonds, is also far more modern in style than most guilloché which, given the craft’s age, tends to focus on more floral designs. The sense of depth is heightened by coating the dial blank in black varnish before engraving and then applying a rhodium plating to the brass exposed by the engraving. The Louis Erard logo and name is then printed on the watch’s sapphire crystal.
The Excellence Guilloché Main features a 42mm polished stainless steel case containing a Sellita SW261-1 automatic with hours and minutes indicated by blued steel “fir tree” hands. The watch is water resistant to 50m and is secured on a black nubuck strap with pin buckle.
Louis Erard launched its Artisan series with its Excellence Émail Grand Feu, which features a traditional fired enamel dial made by Donzé Cadrans.