Time out of mind

Ludovic Ballouard

Ludovic Ballouard plays games with our notions of time in his limited-edition, handmade wristwatches that are as playfully witty as they are beautiful

Time is elusive. The present is momentary. The future almost instantly becomes the past. Cherishing and celebrating this magical, meaningful moment has become the life’s work of a unique watchmaker, Ludovic Ballouard.

“Only the present moment has a meaning,” says the Breton-born, Switzerland-based Ludovic, whose observation of the 2008 financial crisis inspired the design of his first watch, Upside Down. “The stock markets, and the world, turned upside down almost in an instant. It was a stark reminder that the past does not always indicate the future. The only way through the chaos of a crisis is to focus on one thing at a time to gain clarity, certainty and hope. When we tell the time, we automatically do this – we focus on the one number that represents the present.”

Upside Down’s witty design features an ingenious patented mechanism that turns the past hour numeral 180 degrees, upside down, and turns the new hour 180 degrees, to become the only numeral that is right side up. The elegant casing reveals the beautifully complex mechanism and also has inverted convex sides, so even the wearer’s reflection is upside down; transcending the relevance of the concept beyond the watchface and into life.

Ludovic’s reverence to the present moment is also evident in his 2012 patented creation, Half Time. In this wonderfully romantic timepiece, Roman numerals are split in half and revolve in opposite directions around the face. Jumbled, the separated numerals present a series of chaotic mismatches that only find each other, and become one complete numeral, on the present hour. “Half Time is an homage to love,” he says. “It represents a story of two people who are only right for each other. No other pairing of two halves has the same perfect clarity. In that moment, when two matching halves find each other, they bond as one and become whole. Every hour on Half Time is an individual love story.”

From these two exquisite designs, Ludovic has created a number of limited-edition timepieces, featuring different materials, typefaces and languages, including Hindi, Arabic and Chinese. At his atelier in Geneva, he also works directly with clients to tailor his designs to create unique timepieces that add even more significance to life’s precious moments.