My 2021 Watch — Louis Erard × Alain Silberstein La SemaineBy Israel Ortega
To round up the year, the Revolution editors share their personal picks for the watch that defined 2021. For Revolution Mexico and Latin America editor-in-chief Israel Ortega, good things come in threes — specifically, the three gorgeous watches in the Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Le Triptyque collection.
This year, a series of watches has made me smile, and I’m talking about the three members of the Le Triptyque series, a capsule collection co-created by Louis Erard with the renowned French watch designer Alain Silberstein (whom we recognized this year in our Revolution Awards). Today, Louis Erard, founded in 1929 as a watchmaking school and commercially reengineered in 2003, is a rejuvenated independent brand that makes us turn our eyes to the originality and watchmaking ingenuity born in the Swiss Jura mountains.
After the immense success of their first collaboration launched in 2019, Le Régulateur Louis Erard × Alain Silberstein (LE×AS), Le Triptyque continues to depict the French artist’s personal style, which was inspired by the Bauhaus style of teaching in his formative years and developed over the years to include the influence of abstractionists such as Wassily Kandinsky. With Le Triptyque, Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein bring a new regulator dial timepiece, accompanied by a superb monopusher chronograph and the fun, beautiful and rapturous La Semaine.
The charm of La Semaine and Le Triptyque begins with the design. It would have been easy for Louis Erard to use a conventional case and then accentuate it with the polychromatic signature of Silberstein; the concept of a limited collection would have reasonably validated such an effort. Nevertheless, Alain and the people at Le Noirmont opted for a distinctive design to turn the watch into a genuine work of art.
The three watches in Le Triptyque share the same 40mm grade 2 titanium case with sharply defined outlines (although the chronograph is a bit thicker). On either side, two arched bars (or brancards) frame the case and extend toward the ends to become the lugs that hold the textile strap. The result is a sort of “openworked” tonneau shape that elevates the watch’s presence on the wrist insofar as it reminds me of some of Alexander Calder’s mobiles. For that reason alone, Le Triptyque is already distinct.
However, the feature that absolutely enamors everyone is the indication for which the timepiece is named: the oval window for the day of the week. The so-called “Smileday” avoids words and prefers to use tiny faces to show the day of the week. Since the 1990s, the Smileday has adorned Alain Silberstein’s watches, notably the Krono Bauhaus II and Le Réveil. But it is not until this year that Smileday has returned to illuminate our current era. Add to all of this the usual Silberstein stylistic suspects leaping out of the dark dial: the triangular hour indicator, the humongous arrow-like minute hand, and the always fun squiggly seconds hand that makes way for the Smileday aperture when pointing at six o’clock. The three hands are rendered in the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, respectively, which also serves as an emphatic nod to some of Kandinsky’s works.
Thus, in La Semaine, the three days of the weekend are shown with iconographies of happy faces in red over white, while the workweek is shown in black over white starting with a sad face that is delightfully amusing in its apparent hopelessness. If we get philosophical, Silberstein’s cute Smileday acts as an emotional chime that suggests the idea of starting over and moving forward.
And to further validate the proposal of the LE×AS watches, how about the fact that La Semaine and its brother, Le Chrono Monopoussoir, were finalists in their respective categories at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG)? Both watches did not win, but so rich and soulful is La Semaine’s watchmaking proposition that I am convinced a few members of the GPHG Academy and Jury had considered it a watch deserving of even the Aiguille d’Or. I know I did. That’s how important I found La Semaine and the rush of emotions that maître Silberstein gave us with it.
Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein didn’t reinvent the business regarding affordable, limited timepieces. They simply burst in with a familiar aesthetic but one that still surprises us with its jovial humility. La Semaine and all its siblings created by Alain Silberstein are a perfect and timely reminder that alluring watchmaking is not restricted to the most unobtainable haute horlogerie pieces.
The Louis Erard × Alain Silberstein La Semaine is an affordable, down-to-earth, smile-generating, mood-enhancing timepiece — one that has made 178 people very happy. Why 178, you ask? All Louis Erard limited editions run for 178 pieces, and this symbolic number means “stronger together,” according to Emmanuel Emch, delegate board member of Louis Erard. Well, that makes sense. Great art rejuvenates us; it inspires optimism and gives us hope.