Louis Erard is a historic brand that like many had its roots about a century ago (1929 in this particular case), and over the years saw ownership change hands as the industry went through numerous lean and tumultuous years. Now, Louis Erard uses standard Sellita, ETA, and Valjoux movements and has an array of designs available. As a result, their prices are very reasonable, but upon further investigation, their designs certainly have aspirations of higher-priced watches. For instance, their Heritage line of watches resemble the Omega Trésor, or the A. Lange and Söhne’s Saxonia models.
Their Excellence line is the brand’s area of ultimate expression and experimentation. It is within this line that they have recently collaborated with Alain Silberstein. Originally an architect, Mr. Silberstein started his own watch brand in 1987. He then released his own iconic design language which has lasted until this day. Since closing his brand many years ago, he has designed watches for many companies and most of them were quite expensive, most notably his recent work with MB&F. Now with Louis Erard, his designs are priced at a much lower price point of 3,500 Swiss Francs, which brings us to today’s discussion.
The Matick Blog’s in-house podcast master Jonathan Thong and contributing writer Furry Wrist Abroad have a few things in common. They both love sake and soju. They are both petrolheads and at one point in their lives both bled gasoline when cut. They both of course adore watches, and for the first time bought the same limited-edition watch, the La Semaine by Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein.
Alas, it was the adorable faces of the day indicator that spoke to me the most, especially the grumpiness that represented Monday and also my entire being. (`︵´)– Jonathan Thong, 2021
Jonathan Thong: I remember scrolling through Instagram quite late at night, or perhaps early in the morning for most normal people. I may or may not have been a few drams of whisky in at that point, but when I saw this new collaboration between Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein, I knew I had to have one. Now, my connection with Alain Silberstein goes back to my father giving me his Pikto PK11, which kind of kickstarted my deep dive into the rabbit hole of mechanical watches. The problem now was figuring out which one to buy, especially considering my level of intoxication.
Furry Wrist Abroad: Wow, I had no idea that you already had a Silberstein! Since I am not as in tune with industry releases as you are, Jon, I first came across this watch when my friend Ben (@canadianwatchguy) came to Toronto for a short visit. It was then that I tried on the watch and we both fell into silence. I let out a long audible sigh and then a “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck…” for the watch looked perfect on my wrist. My friend started laughing uncontrollably as he knew why I was upset and he agreed that the La Semaine was a perfect match for my wrist. A couple of weeks later, after he decided that the watch was not for him, I bought it from him as fast as I could.
JT: It’s great that you got to see the watch in the metal before making your incredibly fast and also correct decision to purchase! Obviously I only had a few pictures to go by, but there were also three choices. One was the Regulateur, which I believe was also the first collaboration between Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein. The other was a Monopusher Chronograph, and this emoji day indicator (˚▽˚)(`︵´)(•◡•)(•~•)(•_•) rounded out the collection. Yes, there was the option of buying all three as a set, but I feel that may have been too extra. And so began my process of elimination. Alas, it was the adorable faces of the day indicator that spoke to me the most, especially the grumpiness that represented Monday and also my entire being. The Regulateur may be considered the flagship in this collaboration, and the Monopusher Chronograph was a unique addition to the set, but… look at those faces!
FWA: I had no idea that it existed before seeing it in person. The case was what sold it to me. It just made sense on my wrist. The case simply fits my wrist perfectly. I have a feeling that if my friend had bought any of the other variants, that I would have taken that one off his hands. Ultimately if I could choose between the three, I would in hindsight have gone with the chronograph. I have been wearing this watch almost every day, and there have been multiple occasions when I needed to measure an event. Honestly, as adorable as the emoji wheel is, the case and the character of the series of watches is what won me over. Thus the added functionality of the chronograph would have been appreciated for about a dozen instances already with only a couple of weeks on the wrist. Buying such a watch sight unseen sounds like a harrowing proposition for me. How has the watch proven itself now that you have had some wrist time with it?
JT: Honestly, I was not sure how the watch would look on my wrist. On paper, a 40mm x 11.6mm case measuring 47mm lug-to-lug is pretty much within the sweet spot of wearability. But this watch has an interesting lug construction, where it appears to stretch outwards from the middle of the case, which I’ve described previously as De Bethune-esque. It creates a tonneau shape, but with gaps between it and the proper circular case so we can gaze upon our hairy wrists. However, after strapping it onto my wrist, which is literally the case since it comes with a nylon Velcro® strap, I’m pleased to say I was quite happy with how it looked and felt.
FWA: I adore that Velcro strap by the way. I’ve worn it with formalwear and to a heated yoga class already and it did not miss a beat. Mr. Silberstein mentioned in interviews that he wanted to replicate the strap on the Apple Watch®, and he certainly knew what he was doing. The only occasion that the watch itself had faltered in is its low-light legibility. I often find myself in low light scenarios, hence my love for high-legibility watches and fast-aperture camera lenses. I do forgive it whenever I catch a glimpse of its beautifully lacquered hands, however.
JT: Honestly I’m not very bothered about that since, as you might have heard from KC, I don’t always set the time on my watches. But glancing down at the dial is just such a delightful experience, seeing the colours, the funky hands, and especially whatever emoji is being shown.
FWA: That mentality is something that would have been alien to me in the past. Now that I have lived with this watch, I can totally understand your viewpoint on this. I adore how the curve of the yellow seconds hand perfectly caresses the date wheel window and the red circular hour hand as it briefly passes by. This watch is an absolute treat to view during the quiet moments on a hectic day. Outside of some artsy Swatches in my collection that I have never worn, this LE is the first “Art Watch” that I actually like to wear. Oddly the day being represented by the emoji totally makes sense as well somehow. What a ridiculous fun watch. This is exactly the kind of stupid that I need in my life these days.
JT: I totally agree with you on the curve! Little details like that really elevate the design of the watch. Also, it is an element that Alain Silberstein has been playing with in the past, as the same kind of seconds hand can be found on the Pikto that my dad gave me. The circular hour hand also frames the day wheel, and almost frames the whole Louis Erard logo at 12 o’clock. I love how you say you need this kind of stupid in your life. Like, the watch collecting hobby can get quite stuffy at times, but fun little pieces like this inject some humour or soul into a world with too many Oyster Perpetuals.
FWA: I asked my friend why he bought it and ultimately decided to let the watch go, and his reasoning made sense for him. He had recently consolidated his collection of about two dozen watches down to about four. He felt that his collection was a little too conservative and wanted something fun. He tried to get one of the Ming x Massena Labs collaboration pieces, but this thing came along and he pounced. He felt he needed something a little more special and unique in his collection, but ultimately he decided that it was a little too avant-garde of a design to be worn regularly. I thought I would wear this watch only on special occasions, but it has proven versatile enough to wear almost in every scenario besides diving.
JT: For me, the decision of which watch to wear usually comes down to what I plan to be wearing, and even then it doesn’t really affect my choice that much. Also, being in whatever stage of lockdown this is, I’m lucky if I’m even wearing pants, let alone a watch. Plus, I would say I don’t really live quite an active lifestyle as you do; some may even say that I am sedentary. So, I didn’t really have to consider my activities when making a decision to purchase.
FWA: I don’t know if I would say that you are sedentary. Drinking on the level you do takes years of training and has its own particular brand of endurance. Speaking of endurance, this is a rather robust sports watch, with a case that incorporates both Type 2 and 5 titanium. Whereas I see a timepiece as complex and unique as this being on my wrist frequently for years to come, I wonder what its place is in your collection. What do you feel it adds to your collection, and has it influenced your collecting moving forwards? I fear it may have for me.
JT: I would like to think I’m pretty set in my ways of watch collecting, but then again, maybe because my scope is relatively broad. I’d say my main focus is on aesthetics, but there would have to be something unique about it, rather than merely being an objectively good-looking timepiece. Whether it’s a personal connection or some elements of fun, both of which are present in the La Semaine for me, there needs to be something that affects me deeper than just aesthetics. So with that in mind, I think such a fun, contemporary art piece like this La Semaine can fit in my collection comfortably with classics like the Submariner or Speedmaster.
FWA: I think that I am on the same page with regards to where this watch sits in my collection. This watch signifies a lot more for me, though. First, it reminds me of my friend and the many virtues and qualities that he represents that I admire him for. I have found that such a timepiece does break the ice a little when meeting strangers. Lastly, my good friend Mark (@constellation_m) described it as intelligent stupid after hearing me call it the right kind of stupid. At a distance, this watch simply looks like a joyous toy watch, and when in a rush I have told over a dozen people in passing that it is an IKEA watch when asked. Upon close inspection, its case, the careful execution of all of its dial elements, its comfortable strap, and most importantly for me the crown, something much bigger comes to light for me.
The crown is perfectly shaped for getting a positive yet gentle purchase on it for winding and setting the time. This level of sophistication is what is needed to satisfy me in today’s climate of constant lockdowns, economic suffering, and the colossal measures of suffering happening globally due to climate change and failing states. To present a watch at this price, and with this level of levity without the refinement and poise in its design and manufacturing would have simply felt wrong to me when I wore it. Everyone’s experience during this pandemic has been different, and continues to vary, but in my day-to-day life, this underlying sense of maturity and thoughtfulness is required whenever I make light of any topic, even that of my choice of timepiece.
JT: That’s quite a good point. We’ve all suffered in our own ways, but we should also recognise our privilege to be in a position to drop money on a luxury item. But of course, true connoisseurs of the fine arts like ourselves wouldn’t simply be spending on any item, and I think we’ve covered all the reasons why we did so in our conversation. Hopefully, soon we’ll be able to spend money on experiences that make us happy, for a change. Perhaps you can enjoy that Malaysian diving trip you’ve been talking about!
FWA: Oh my goodness that trip sounds amazing right now. I had even gone far enough to plan that trip to include an additional two weeks in Okinawa. To be honest, all I would be happy with is some time away from the outreach of my phone’s notifications. Until then, we both will have to be happy with looking down at these wondrous mechanical works of art on our wrists.
For more information on the La Semaine Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein, click here.
For Team Matick,