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Ladoire, as time rolls by
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Ladoire, as time rolls by

Wednesday, 20 May 2009
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Marie Le Berre
Freelance writer and journalist

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The recently launched Ladoire brand, named after its founder, is part of the emerging trend among watchmakers to propose a thousand and one ways to read the time. Its first watch, the Roller Guardian Time, has hours, minutes and seconds literally rolling inside an unconventional case.

After twenty years in the jewellery business, Lionel Ladoire made the move into watchmaking, spurred on by an underlying passion for micromechanics. He imagined the Roller Guardian Time (RGT) in early 2004 but it wasn’t until 2006, and his encounter with future associates Richard Piras, an experienced manager, and Vincent Pérego, head of a stone-setting workshop, that his project really took shape. The wheels were in motion, and in August 2007 the company came into being. Initially self-financed, with help from a Love Money network, in October 2008 the start-up was given a boost when Aurinvest Capital 2, a capital development company of sixty business angels, took a stake, leaving Lionel Ladoire free to focus his attention on creation.

Roller Guardian Time (RGT) © Ladoire
Roller Guardian Time (RGT) © Ladoire
An original concept

Many stages separated the original sketches from the finished watch, and a concept that delivered its promises. The basic premise is three different-sized overlapping and revolving discs. Lionel Ladoire first imagined them in the form of a ring, which he named Circus. However, this innovative concept soon found a natural outlet in watchmaking and the Roller Guardian Time. Its display system is the first to be fully mounted on ceramic ball bearings. There are no hands to show the hours, minutes or seconds but pointers on rotating discs. The centre hand is there to indicate the second time zone.

Not just the dial benefited from Lionel Ladoire’s inspired imagination. From the outset, the streamlined case, in a league of its own, was designed with a crown curiously positioned on the left, and the rapid time-zone change pusher on the right. The leather strap, with invisible attachments, clings to the wrist on either side of the thick case thanks to silicon inserts, a material chosen for its excellent durability. The large clasp adjusts to perfection thanks to an articulated buckle and two interchangeable pins, one short and one long to accommodate half sizes.

An original movement

In the early days of this adventure, Lionel Ladoire didn’t think it possible to produce his own movement, and instead planned to work with a standard calibre, namely the 2892 ETA. However, an unexpected opportunity arose in late 2006, when Hautlence and MCT (Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps) suggested a joint project. The trio commissioned ASXP-Engineering, under director Philippe Ruedin, to develop an exclusive movement. Originally a prestigious model now in the public domain, the calibre was completely reworked and three variations made, one for each of the partner brands. The degree of personalisation, such as the form of the bridges and plates, the configuration or the winding system, is such that the similarities are hard to perceive. Ladoire’s automatic version perfectly integrates the RGT’s complications.

Far from taking the easy option, the module is built on three tiers – movement, display and ball bearings – the depth of which can be appreciated through an opening in the dial. The parts are made by some of the Jura’s most renowned manufacturers while finishing is entrusted almost entirely to Geneva-based specialists. Ladoire’s own watchmaker, Frédéric Esnoult, then performs the delicate task of assembly. The Calvet/01/RGT calibre, to give it its full name, gives the RGT watch a legitimate status that enlightened collectors will appreciate at its full worth.

An original collection

The RGT collection comes with cases in white gold, red gold and titanium with, in each instance, specific finishes for the dial and movement. Any further versions will not be part of standard production but manufactured to order. Not that Ladoire will content itself with tweaking a detail here or there. The brand intends producing custom-made watches, revisiting every decor and finish so that each aspect of the finished creation is in perfect harmony, front and back. A “desire to be different” that no doubt springs from Lionel Ladoire’s previous experience in jewellery and his heightened sense of aesthetics.

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