From one of independent watchmaking’s most eccentric and talented characters, the Upside Down by Ludovic Ballouard is a piece whose charming quirkiness and unique and amusing novelty belies a work of profound horologic complexity and technical ingenuity, and one in which the watchmaker’s personality is reflected in a wonderful expression of creativity and individuality.

A defining characteristic of his work, and based on the theme of appreciating the moment we live in, experimenting with the display of time has become a signature of Ludovic Ballouard, and his beautiful hand manufactured watches take convention, and particularly in the case of his Upside Down collection, quite literally turns it on its head to create these most unusual, but elegantly simplistic and intuitively easy to read timepieces, in his own inimitable style.

The very limited, made to order production of the Upside Down Etoiles is presented in a 41mm case of gleaming 950 platinum, and takes Ballouard’s concept of rotating hour discs and a single central minutes hand into a captivating starry setting, with a glassy deep blue dial sprinkled with hundreds of tiny gold flecks which emanate a stunning night sky.

To achieve this beautiful effect, the centre part of the dial is made of sapphire crystal with a blue base, the colour of which graduates from dark around its outer region to a lighter shade which almost glows in contrast, and on which a constellation of stars are individually visible beneath the glassy surface.

Around the outside of the dial, the hour numerals are displayed upside down on a dozen round discs, and of course, at first glance it makes no sense, and it does take a moment to figure out. This is because a closer examination will reveal that one of the numerals is in fact the correct way up, and is further highlighted with a tiny dot which is completely hidden when upside down, and a small but ingenious detail which ensures that the concept work perfectly, as the current hour is always accented with it. At the top of each hour, the outgoing and the incoming hour discs both snap instantly and simultaneously out of and into position.

Behind this beguiling novelty some very serious technical watchmaking is required to make it all possible, and underneath, through the sapphire caseback, the complexity of this extraordinary mechanism is revealed. With a ring of twelve maltese crosses around it, one for every hour disc, Ballouard’s manual winding B01 movement looks like no other, and considering the energy demands of the hourly cam operated function, a 36 hour power reserve is very respectable.

A watch of unique functionality, enduring fascination and individual personality, the Upside Down Etoiles by Ludovic Ballouard is a wonderful representation of the creativity to be uncovered in the world of independent haute horlogerie watchmaking.


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