The Louis Erard Regulator Ref. 54 209 AN 12 with power reserve in black is a champion of manly watches: it’s bold, dark, intriguing and tasteful. It is at once sporty and classic, keeping true to traditional watch making while maintaining a thoroughly contemporary aesthetic. It also features two of my favorite complications: a regulator display and a power reserve, which are an in-house developed module. At around $2,500 this isn’t a watch that one buys on a whim (or at all for that matter), but given its looks, technical specifications and overall uniqueness, it is certainly lust worthy.
For those who are unfamiliar, a regulator is simply a watch where the hours, minutes and seconds are separated into different subdials on different axis. Typically, the central hand tells the minutes while small-hour and small-second subdials are located elsewhere. Regulator watches are nothing new, in fact they are quite an old concept, going back several centuries to wall clocks. However, these days they are a somewhat uncommon watch variety, which perhaps makes them all the more attractive. Some notable models out there are the affordable Seagull powered MoVas, a diver version by Oris, the “extreme” Alpina and the classically styled Sinn. That being said, this Louis Erard really seems to be the most attractive and intelligently designed.
The dial of the LE is really striking. It has depth and texture, precise indexes, various dials, but shows a lot of restraint. Nothing interferes with each other and overall lacks clutter. It’s all black with white markings, yet the metallic texture lends a certain sheen that prevents it from feeling uniform, or too dense. The use of hands and discs also creates a more dynamic dial. The hour is displayed with a rotating disk in a semi-circular aperture at twelve, the minutes and seconds via hands, and the power by a second disk. What you get is a sort of a jump hour effect, where the hour is indicated “digitally” creating an easy at-a-glance read. Perhaps my favorite aesthetic feature is the layering of the dial. It appears as though there is a diamond textured base plate onto which a bridge has been overlaid. Yet, through the bridge various apertures have been cut to reveal various functions, culminating in a watch that appears as a set of machines, strung together for a single purpose.
An ETA Peseux 7001 RE9 17 jewel hand wound movement with an in-house complication powers the watch. The 7001 is a cool little movement that is not as commonly seen as its big brother, the Unitas. The 7001 features small seconds at the 6′ position and is know for being remarkably thin at only 2.5mm, making it ideal for dress watches. The regulator and power reserve complications are added with an in-house module, the details of which I do not have. Regardless of the regulator function, a power reserve is always great to have and is especially useful on a hand wound watch.