They kind of look like they're inspired by children's toys, but plenty of grownups have been captivated by the refined use of primary colors and zany shapes in Alain Silberstein watches. Having produced watches under his own name only briefly, the architect/designer has returned to partner with watchmaker Louis Erard for a second time, on a reprise of his most famous design available in three new variations. And you don't have to be a watch or design fan to find them fun and compelling.
Alain Silberstein first worked with Louis Erard in 2019 on a well-received regulator style watch that seemed to distill his design DNA. The limited editions sold out (and are now trading for well above their retail price on the secondary market), so the partnership has been renewed for 2021 with an automatic version, another regulator version and a monopusher chronograph. An unusual feature on the automatic version is that a window above the date — which normally displays the day of the week — instead features cute, stylized faces that change every day.
Even if you saw these watches in black and white, the unusual shapes would still stand out visually and be instantly recognizable, as well as deliver excellent legibility. That's just good design. But the bright, contrasting colors further amplify these characteristics.
For the 2021 watches, the dial designs use familiar forms and features with some tweaks and are tailored to the different models' various functions.
The biggest change, however, is the untraditional case shape with a frame-like lug structure built around a round middle case reminiscent of Porsche Design's sporty 1919 collection. Compared to the traditional case of the 2019 models, the new, avant-garde case somewhat distracts from the watch's signature — which is its quirky dial design — but it adds some interest of its own. Each watch measures a moderate 40mm in diameter, is rendered in titanium, and is powered by an automatic movement from ETA.
If the first Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein collaboration is anything to go by, these will be hard to get your hands on: Each model is limited to 178 examples with 78 of each reserved to be sold in box sets of all three, for a price of around $12,425. The individual watches start at around $3,910 for the automatic and regulator versions, and go up to about $5,030 for the monopusher chronograph.