Watches: Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down Meteorite

By Thierry Ané on February 9, 2015

Since the very beginning of my love affair with watches I have been particularly drawn to the timekeepers with an unusual display of time. When a timepiece features a large number of complications or unconventional ones, one expects to have to focus one’s attention a little to be able to grasp them. However, more often than not, the most basic information, namely the reading of the time of the day, is absolutely straightforward, even for these models.

When the time is no longer presented by the tried-and-tested central hands or in a digital way, our entire perception of the watch changes: your eyes have to wander for an extra second on the dial for you to get the information you were looking for. It is the perfect way not to take your timepiece for granted and to be reminded of its beauty and complexity all day long! As an additional bonus, most of the people staring at your watch won’t be able to tell the time. It truly becomes a model for insiders and a great talking piece…

For having such models in my collection, though, I have to confess that despite the initial irresistible appeal of these extravagant displays, the excitement wears off with time and sadly these timekeepers spend more time in the safe than on my wrist. In all honesty, however, I never seem to get tired of Ludovic Ballouard’s creations. To the contrary: I am growing more impressed and fascinated every time I see an “Upside Down” or a “Half Time model!

This talented independent watchmaker that has made the unusual display of time his trademark has always been able to do so with such simplicity that his models remain timeless despite their huge originality. I was thus particularly delighted to discover his latest creation during the Geneva Week.

As the name implies, the new Upside Down Meteorite Dial Red Gold belongs to the “Upside Down” collection. This model with a highly complicated manually-wound calibre developed by this gifted watchmaker, also known for the incredible Opus XIII in collaboration with Harry Winston, presents a rather classic small seconds at the 6 o’clock position and a central minutes hand but the hours are revealed in a much more unsettling way.

The numerals for the hours are placed on twelve discs surrounding the dial that are turned upside down except for the one indicating the correct hour. When the hour changes, this disc jumps back to its reverse position and the following one instantaneously turns right side up. To ease the reading, an indicator-dot also appears in from of the correct hour number.

What makes this brilliant is that it is unconventional, it is technically complex but it is also very minimalist and intuitive. The watch remains perfectly classical despite its originality! Of course, the beautiful 41 mm case in red gold (or platinum depending of the version) with a perfect mirror-polished finish greatly helps place this model among the most refined and luxurious timepieces.

The new Upside Down Meteorite shares the elegance of its predecessors with an additional refinement: a brand new dial in meteorite! As you can easily understand, even if the stone is sliced very thinly, it is impossible to obtain the thinness one can achieve with more conventional material like the titanium in which Ludovic Ballouard’s dials are generally made. For this reason, the watchmaker had to entirely change the proportions of the case in order to accommodate this new dial!

Moreover, the meteorite is much heavier than titanium and the extra weight on each hour disc has a consequence in terms of the amount of energy required for obtaining the jump. As a result things had to be reworked on a technical side as well and Ludovic told us that one can really see the difference in speed in the switch from side up to side down (and vice versa) when looking at this Upside Down Meteorite and the previous models using a titanium dial.

In any case, this was well worth the extra effort on his part as the watch is absolutely stunning with this new face. Unfortunately, though, it will make only one watch enthusiast happy as the watchmaker decided it should be a “piece unique”…

For more information please visit the Ludovic Ballouard web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: