Louis Erard Introduces the Le Régulateur Vianney Halter

The distinctive style made affordable.

Almost exactly a year after the inaugural limited edition designed by Alain Silberstein, Louis Erard has just unveiled its second collaboration, this time with Vianney Halter, the watchmaker best known for a unique, steampunk-inspired aesthetic.

Designed by Mr Halter and made by Louis Erard, the Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter is based on the Excellence Régulateur, but dressed up with many of the independent watchmaker’s signature design elements on the dial.

Initial thoughts

The dial is executed with the distinctive aesthetic found on Mr Halter’s best-known watches, namely the Antiqua and Classic – which were penned by American designer Jeff Barnes. Although the case and dial layout are identical to Louis Erard’s stock regulator model, the typography and hands of Mr Halter are unique enough to make it instantly recognisable.

As it is based on the standard model, the Régulateur Vianney Halter has the same strengths and weaknesses. Most obviously, it is affordable and good value, but the case is thick at a little over 12 mm high, meaning it feels slightly chunky.

Conceptually, this collaboration functioned exactly like the earlier one with Alain Silberstein, but it feels less complete because of the background of the collaborator.

While Mr Silberstein was always a watch designer, Mr Halter is well established as a watchmaker and known as a skilled prototypist. As a result, while the new watch possesses a recognisable Vianney Halter style – and it is an appealing look – it does not feel as complete as the Silberstein collaboration since Mr Halter’s contribution is aesthetics rather than something tangible.

Vianney Halter

Recognisable style

The dial is a two-level affair: an upper plate finished with a circular-brushed finish for the minute track, and a sandblasted lower plate for the hours and seconds. All of the markings on the dial are printed in Mr Halter’s signature typography.

And the hands are similarly done in Mr Halter’s style – shaped like the nib of a fountain pen – and made of blued steel, which is a first for Louis Erard.

Another element drawn from Mr Halter’s watches is the notched crown, which is modelled on the rivet-studded crown of the Antiqua and Classic.

The rest of the watch is identical to the stock Excellence Régulateur. The case is steel, 42 mm in diameter, and a fairly thick 12.25 mm high.

It has a display back revealing the Sellita SW266-1 movement, based on a clone of the ETA 2824. Louis Erard adds its own module onto the movement, resulting in the regulator-style display.


Key Facts and Price

Louis Erard Le Régulateur Louis Erard x Vianney Halter
Ref. 85237AA51

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 12.25 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Sellita SW266-1
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Calf leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: 178 pieces
Availability: Direct from Louis Erard and its retailers
Price: 3,500 Swiss francs before taxes

For more information, visit Louiserard.com.


 

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Blancpain Introduces the Villeret Extraplate Boutique Edition

In green and yellow gold.

Perhaps the quintessential Blancpain dress watch, the Villeret is simple yet distinctive in style. Named after the own where Blancpain was founded, the Villeret collection has existed since the resurrection of the brand in the 1980s, but almost always with a white dial. So the latest to join the line up is unusual: the Villeret Extraplate Boutique Edition, a richly coloured watch in yellow gold and metallic olive green.

Initial thoughts

While exceedingly simple in design, the Villeret is made up of several subtle elements that make its instantly recognisable. The Roman numerals, for instance, have an unusual, geometric font that give them a slightly modern look. Add to that leaf hands with an open centre, and the narrow, double-stepped, bezel, and it is a Villeret.

The design is easily defined, but the Villeret line up is mostly made up of watches that resemble each other – most commonly a solemn white dial matched with a rose gold case. The highlight of the new model is its colour, which makes a big difference.

A first for Blancpain, the combination of a yellow gold case with a green dial is starkly different from the typical Villeret iterations. The colours are more contemporary and less old fashioned, resulting in a dress watch that stands out. Because both the case and dial colours are warm, the watch has a rich, saturated look that is striking, but perhaps not for everyone. That said, it is only 40 mm wide and 8.7 mm high, compact dimension that give it a discreet profile on the wrist.

Its only visual misstep is the date. Perhaps useful to some, the date gets in the way of the aesthetics, spoiling the balance and seamlessness of the dial. The position of the date is also too close to the centre of the dial, a consequence of the smallish movement inside. But fortunately the date is rendered in green like the dial, helping it recede a little into the background.

And Blancpain watches have a high level of fit and finish. Though the dial is simple, the Roman numerals are solid-gold appliqués. The movements are also excellent; mostly derived from Frederic Piguet calibres, they are slim and finished well. In short, they are as good as the competition, with the only weakness being the brand, which does not have as strong as identity as say Patek Philippe or Breguet.

The movement

While the highlight is the dial, the movement is solid in construction and quality. The automatic cal. 1151 is small and thin – just 3.25 mm high – but packs a surprisingly long power reserve of 100 hours thanks to twin barrels.

It is based on the cal. 1150 of Frederic Piguet, the movement manufacturer that was merged into Blancpain. Though the original cal. 1150 was launched in 1988, it has been updated with modern technology, such as a silicon hairspring.

While largely finished by machine, the movement is attractively decorated and boasts finishing touches applied by hand like the polished bevelling of the bridges and chamfered screw heads. And most obvious is the solid-gold rotor that’s decorated with honeycomb guilloche.


Key facts and price

Blancpain Villeret Extraplate Boutique Edition
Ref. 6651-1453-55A

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 8.7 mm
Material: 18k yellow gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 1151
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 100 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Availability: Now at Blancpain boutiques
Price: Approximately US$18,000; or 24,700 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit Blancpain.com.


 

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