Watches: Ludovic Ballouard Half Time Chinese (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on May 9, 2014

If you are attracted to unusual pieces of Haute Horology, I have no doubt you already know everything about Ludovic Ballouard.

This extremely talented independent watchmaker introduced us to his very own philosophy of time in 2010 with the award-winning Upside Down model that looks particularly stunning in pink gold with a mother-of-pearl marquetry dial as it was presented last year. On this amazing watch, only the current hour appears right-side up on the dial (marked by a small dot to guide the eye): all the other numbers are upside down, turning right-side up again only when their hour has arrived. A single central hand then indicates the minutes and a discreet sub-dial at 6 o'clock indicates the seconds.

Far from being a one-time marketing stunt, this gifted artist came back in 2012 with his second unusual manufactured creation, the Half Time. All the hour indexes are divided in two and are therefore unreadable… except the one showing the current hour in the window at 12 o'clock. Two discs that move on the same plane as the dial and that can hardly be distinguished by the naked eye create this perfect illusion. Both discs jump instantaneously at the hour making the reconstitution of each readable number even more stunning. In a semi-circle at 6 o’clock, the minutes can be read through a retrograde hand.

Both models are superbly complex yet equally intuitive. No wonder Harry Winston decided to work with this eccentric watchmaker for their renowned Opus series. Together they unveiled the Opus XIII in 2013, a watch that perhaps defies the conventional rules of watchmaking a little too much to receive the success it deserves. It is honestly next to impossible to understand this watch just by looking at it but it surely represents a tremendous piece of innovation and showcases Ludovic Ballouard’s astonishing talent.

A this year’s Baselworld, the independent watchmaker had no entirely new concept to unveil but he still managed to present an interesting twist on the Half Time model with a Chinese version available in platinum with a black dial and matching alligator strap or in red gold with a white dial and paired with a brown alligator strap. Both secured by a beautifully crafted pin buckle shaped like a “B”.

Somehow, I even prefer the watch with Chinese numbers rather than Roman numerals. It gives it an even more singular look. Like all the previous models, the attention to details is really impressive and the movement visible from the case back looks absolutely stunning. I have no doubt this new version will be very successful in China but I am equally confident it will appeal to non-Chinese-speaking customers. All in all, this is an excellent model to help us wait until the next big interpretation of time.