Ludovic Ballouard, a Swiss-based watchmaker of French and Dutch heritage, has carved his niche in the world of horology as an independent artisan. With a rich background, honed at esteemed watchmaking ateliers such as Franck Muller and F.P. Journe, Ballouard has emerged as a distinguished name among independent watchmakers. His craft shines through in each of his creations, characterized by a unique, understated aesthetic that conceals intricate mechanical complexity.
In 2009, Ludovic Ballouard introduced the world to his debut creation, the Upside Down watch, initiating a biennial tradition of unveiling new horological wonders. This launch coincided with the tumultuous period of the global financial crisis, a time when headlines were dominated by plummeting figures and economic uncertainty. Amidst this turmoil, Ballouard pondered a profound concept—that the resilience of a single figure, defying the downward spiral, could symbolize the vitality of existence. This contemplation inspired the Upside Down watch, where all numerals on the dial, except the present hour, are consistently inverted, serving as an ever-present reminder of our limited influence over both the past and the future.
The Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down watch exudes elegance with its polished casing that can be chosen among different precious materials, offering a subtle gleam that captivates both the touch and the eye. Various choices for both the strap and the dial ensure versatility in complementing various fashion ensembles, making it a suitable companion for formal occasions, going from simple blue dials to the rarest stone dials such as Lapis Lazuli, Aventurine or mother of pearl. At first glance, the case and dial appear deceptively simple, garnering minimal attention. Even among seasoned watch enthusiasts in a boardroom, this timepiece maintains an aura of restrained sophistication until its concealed beauty is unveiled. Beyond its aesthetic allure, the Upside Down watch features a concave case that creates an inverted reflection of its surroundings, aligning seamlessly with the watch’s concept and adding a playful dimension for owners to share with others. Measuring 41mm in diameter and 11mm in height, the Upside Down straddles the line between a dress watch and an everyday timepiece. The platinum crown, adorned with graceful crown guards, facilitates time adjustment with a simple pull-and-turn mechanism. An intriguing detail is the strap buckle stylized with the letter “B” for Ballouard, designed to prevent the buckle from causing wear on the strap, enhancing its longevity.
Beneath the surface, the Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down watch boasts a jumping hour mechanism, a centrally positioned minute hand, and a small seconds indicator at 6 o’clock. Encircling the dial are twelve discs, each bearing hour numerals. The watch’s defining feature lies in its ingenious design: at any given moment, only one disc displays the correct orientation, highlighted by a small dot, while the others remain inverted. This clever arrangement aids wearers in swiftly ascertaining the time after a brief adjustment period. A minor quirk arises during the hour transition, as the upright position of the minute hand can indicate either just before or just after the hour change.
The true marvel of this timepiece lies within its movement. The hand-wound LB01 movement, meticulously developed in-house, accommodates a fully integrated mechanism of 12 Maltese crosses that serve as anchor points for the hour markers, enabling their 180° rotation. The mechanism is driven by the central wheel, completing a rotation every 60 minutes. A spiral-shaped cam, affixed to the central wheel’s pivot, interacts with a lever featuring a pawl arm. As the lever ascends, it accumulates energy, released as it engages the cam’s highest point and descends to its lowest. This action propels a ring adorned with internal ratchet teeth, causing it to advance by 30 degrees. Additionally, the ring incorporates four external teeth, allowing it to engage two consecutive Maltese crosses. As a result, at the top of each hour, the preceding numeral executes a 180-degree downward rotation, while the subsequent hour marker rotates upward by the same extent. This intricate mechanism employs four teeth positioned at a pitch diameter six times that of the Maltese cross, facilitating the Maltese cross’s rotation by an angle equivalent to two successive half-turns. This synchronization of two digits occurs instantaneously, thanks to the accumulation of energy over the 60-minute revolution and its swift release by the cam.
This instant change reminds us of the immediate changes that can happen during a crisis and that this concept draws inspiration from, everything could be instantaneously changed for the better and this watch emphasizes the act of enjoying the present. What is even more fascinating is that this complexity is not seen at first glance, when the watch seems a regular dressy piece. Only the connoisseur will recognize this piece of art. The Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down watch encapsulates a complexity that remains hidden at first glance, presenting itself as a refined dress watch. It is a masterpiece that only a connoisseur can fully appreciate.
In conclusion, Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down watch stands as a testament to his mastery of subtle horology. Its understated elegance conceals a world of mechanical complexity that unveils itself to those who delve deeper. Ballouard’s dedication to creating unique timepieces that seamlessly integrate into everyday life while maintaining exceptional craftsmanship is evident in every facet of the Upside Down.