I would like to begin by admitting that I am not a great fan of Louis Erard watches. While I have always followed the brand and have known them to be a manufacturer of high-quality value-driven Swiss watches, nothing piqued my interest. However, the brand’s recent releases such as the GPHG nominated Louis Erard and Alan Silberstein impressed me and I decided to take one of the brand’s latest watches, the Excellence Petite Seconde for a spin. So, here’s my 14-day experience with this dressy/casual offering from the Jura mountains-based brand.
Press photos can be quite deceptive, and many times the watch that you fall in love with online doesn’t live up to your expectation. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the Excellence Petite Seconde, and this watch looks much better in person. The dial on this watch is a combination of classic looks and refined execution. Presented in a few different shades of silver along with multiple finishes, the dial has a sector style layout that makes for a visually engaging experience. The dial comprises three different sections.
First off you have a large circular area with a smooth opaline finish at the center which comprises the Louis Erard branding at 12, the hour and minute hand stack, and a large subsidiary second’s dial at 6. The sub-dial for running seconds is nicely recessed to provide an extra layer of depth and it also features nice concentric circular graining. The markings for the seconds have been printed in black and a cross-hair divides the sub-dial into four different parts giving it a more balanced look. To track the time Louis Erard has used an elegant handset, that happens to be one of my favorite details on this watch. The distinctively shaped hands are inspired by the fir trees that that grow in the Jura mountains where Louis Erard is based. Furthermore, the hands have been thermally treated to achieve a beautiful cornflower blue hue that provides a striking contrast to the light-colored dial. And while the hands are blue, they change color depending on how light falls on them.
Moving outwards from the center you get to the second section of the dial that has a slightly darker steel color and features a nice circular brushed finish. This layer presents a nice contrast to the lighter central area and houses the hour index which is a combination of applied dart style markers and Arabic numerals. The hour index has been finely polished adding to the dressy vibe of the watch. One of the things I don’t like here is that number 6 has been chopped off to accommodate the running second’s sub-dial. While it’s not a deal-breaker, in my opinion, it would have been better if there was no numeral at 6 or the numeral was replaced with a simple marker.
Finally, on the outer periphery of the dial is a white ring with a minute track printed in black. The minute markings consist of simple hash marks and double-digit numerals at intervals of 5 to make it easier to read the time. Speaking of legibility, thanks to the well-proportioned hands I never faced any issues in reading the time.
The case on the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde is made from 316 L stainless steel and features a nice rounded profile. It measures 42mm in diameter and has a thickness of around 12.5mm. As the dimensions suggest, this is a modern sized watch that has been designed to offer some wrist presence. And after wearing the watch for a couple of weeks, I can confirm that it wears even larger than its dimensions, more like a 43mm watch. Having said that, the watch does wear comfortably on the wrist thanks to downwards curving lugs.
I wore the watch regularly during the time I had it in my possession and the only thing that bothered me a little was the height. There were times when I had to be a little manipulative to make it slide it smoothly under my shirt cuff. So, in my opinion in case Louis Erard can drop the height by a couple of millimeters, they would have an almost perfect dress watch at their hands. As far as the finishing of the case is concerned there is nothing much to talk about. The entire case, from the top to the bottom, has been finely polished, which goes well with the overall curvaceous design of this watch. I would have loved to see a mix of different finishes on the case like the dial, however, the polished finish is just fine, especially at the price point. To give a nice and expansive view of the dial, Louis Erard has equipped this watch with a domed sapphire crystal. The crystal has been given anti-reflective treatment on both the inside as well as outside. And, in my experience with the watch, the AR coating worked quite well, as it helped keep reflections at bay in most situations and improved legibility. Finally, the case is water-resistant to just 50 meters, which is enough for a watch of this type.
Ticking inside the Excellence Petite Seconde is the automatic Sellita SW261-1 Calibre. This is a movement that operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers an autonomy of around 38 hours when fully wound. Speaking of winding, I found the movement was quite smooth and satisfactory to wind using the well-sized crown at 3. As can be seen from the pictures, the movement can keep track of minutes and hours along with the running seconds positioned at 6. Another thing worth mentioning and something that must have already been observed by our eagle-eyed viewers is that the pivot for the second’s hand is slightly lower on the SW261-1 as compared to the SW260-1 allowing for a larger and better placed (in my opinion) sub-dial. The movement is visible through the sapphire case back and bears an almost industrial look to it, with the only decorative element being the skeletonized rotor. Surrounding the exhibition case back you find some nicely engraved text related to the branding and water resistance this watch offers.
Strap and Wearability
Being a watch reviewer and content writer, I experience a lot of watches daily, and whenever I receive a watch for a review my general reaction is to swap out the OEM strap, as frankly speaking most of them are quite disappointing. However, the stock strap on the Excellence Petite Seconde took me by surprise and I enjoyed it so that I never felt like taking it off. There are a couple of things in my opinion that makes this strap worthwhile. Firstly, and most importantly, the strap is supple right out of the box and does not require much breaking in. Secondly, the strap showcases some nice attention to detail. For instance, the underside of the strap features a nice rubber lining that provides enhanced sweat and water resistance and ensures the longevity of the strap. I also like that Louis Erard has not neglected the pin-buckle that showcases a mix of brushed and polished surfaces and feels solid. Finally, I really love the color and material of the strap.
Nubuck is an interesting leather that has a nice texture and velvet-like feel to it. While it does dress down the watch a bit, I think it adds a lot of character and personality to the watch. As far as the color goes, the shade of brown used here is, in my opinion, perfect and provides a great contrast against the steel housing and the dial. While I already mentioned wearability while talking about the case above, I would like to add that the strap always kept the watch hugged to my wrist, inspiring confidence.
Conclusion and Competition
While the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde is a great watch, it does face some stiff competition. And while there are a few watches that come to mind in this regard, here are a few Longines watches that seem like string rivals. First is the Longines Heritage Classic (Reference: – L2.822.214.171.124). Featuring a modest 38.5mm stainless case, a clean and highly legible Sector dial, and powered by a technically superior automatic movement that is made especially for Longines and priced sensibly at around USD 2,100, the Longines Heritage Classic is a watch that has won a lot of hearts since its release. The second Longines watch is the more recent Longines Heritage Classic variation (Reference: – L2.3126.96.36.199). Popularly known as the “Tuxedo”, this vintage re-issue has similar specifications as the Sector dial reference but features a Black and cream dial with Arabic numerals and custard colored lume for a strong retro vibe.
To sum up things, I would like to say that the Louis Erard Excellence Petite Seconde is an impressive watch that delivers on almost all fronts. It looks handsome, feels solidly built, is powered by a reliable automatic movement and, most of all is well priced. Speaking of price, this watch retails for CHF 1,500, which, in my opinion, is quite fair for what is on offer. So, who is this watch for? Anyone who is looking for a thoughtfully designed dress watch that does not break the bank.