It cannot be said that Louis Erard is short of ideas. Under the impetus of Manuel Emch, it is finding opportunities to put its collections in the spotlight through partnerships with independent watchmakers or through products that highlight the crafts. In all cases, such approaches are a win-win situation for all parties involved: the work of the watchmaker or craftsman receives media coverage and gains visibility, while Louis Erard gains credibility by strengthening the watchmaking content of its watches. The Excellence Enamel Grand Feu falls into this category of special pieces and as its name suggests, it offers a superb grand feu enamel dial made by the prestigious Donzé Cadrans workshop, supplier of many high-level manufactures.
The Excellence Enamel Grand Feu is marketed in a limited series of 99 pieces. Given the time required to make the dial (only 15 dials can be produced per month), the availability of this series is based on 3 periods during which the craftsman concentrates the production: a first batch is made from March to May 2021 (all the pieces of this batch are sold), then a second one between June and August and finally, the final batch will take place between September and November. It will therefore be necessary to be patient if the watch ordered is among the last to be assembled. However, the horizon remains reasonable since everything should be processed within the year.
In any case, the wait is worth it. The dial is magnificent and demonstrates the know-how of Donzé Cadran. It is a question here of real tricks of the hand, of precise gestures, of attempts too... Because let's not forget that the making of a grand feu enamel dial is far from being an exact science or a perfectly marked path. Numerous attempts may be necessary to obtain the desired result which is the result of a delicate construction of the dial by small layers of material and successive firings at more than 800 degrees.
The rendering is incomparable: the texture with a very light grain, the ecru color of the background, the soft and elegant blue color of the inscriptions define a refined chromatic atmosphere that leaves no doubt about the quality of the execution. Moreover, the organization of the dial itself is particularly appealing. It is certainly not very original, but a classic approach is certainly the best way to present this traditional manufacturing technique. We find a dial alternating Roman numerals and thin and long indexes, a peripheral minute track and a second hand sector delicately sketched thanks to very light markers. The name of the brand is perhaps a little too present but there is nothing shocking: the inscription on the dial of the Excellence Petite Seconde has a similar size.
The blued steel fir tree signature hands are an ideal combination with this dial. The blued steel has a deeper, more intense color than the blue inscriptions and this slight contrast between the elements gives the watch energy and dynamism. The slim, pointed hands blend harmoniously with the long numerals and indexes. It is also interesting to note that the second hand sector is positioned in a balanced way on the dial and this is an asset of the Excellence Petite Seconde which is the basic model of this watch.
Indeed, for the rest, the Excellence Enamel Grand Feu has the same characteristics as the Excellence Petite Seconde, including its water resistance of 50 meters. The steel case has a diameter of 42mm which may seem large for a watch with an elegant vocation but the advantage is to better highlight the texture and color of the enamel. The thickness is slightly over 12mm. It is felt on the wrist but the diameter allows to keep relatively slender proportions. The movement is the Sellita SW261-1 caliber which has a power reserve of 38 hours for a frequency of 4hz. It is visible through the transparent back but I would have personally preferred a solid caseback. Indeed, I find that this movement is not particularly pretty. Moreover, I would have preferred a manual winding movement because I would have found it more in the spirit of the aesthetics of the dial. Finally, note that the strap is made of coffee colored nubuck calf leather with a quick change system.
The Excellence Email Grand Feu is nevertheless a very beautiful watch, magnified by the beauty of its dial. Its selling price of 3,900 CHF is very attractive considering the craftsmanship involved and the reputation of the workshop. For this alone, we must pay tribute to Louis Erard which makes the production of a craftsman, usually dedicated to much more expensive watches, more accessible.
+ the beauty of the dial
+ a well-balanced dial lay-out
+ the selling price which makes a grand feu enamel dial more accessible
- a solid backback would have seemed more appropriate to me
- I would have preferred a manual winding movement for this type of watch