We are already acquainted with Chronometry Competitions, the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, and the Red Dot awards. The Ateliers Louis Moinet have indeed won prizes from all these organisations. But there is something special about the prize won in Paris on Tuesday July 8th: the fact that it is awarded under the auspices of UNESCO (at the European headquarters in Geneva), that is in no way connected to watchmaking on the one hand, and in recognition of a brand rather than a product on the other. The prize is the Merit for Development in Watchmaking Art and Technology from the International Institute for Promotion and Prestige (IIPP) in collaboration with UNESCO.


A little known award – and for good reason

The award is little known in the watchmaking world, since only two other watchmaking brands have received it since the creation of the Institute in 1963. Conversely, great names have succeeded each other in the ranks of honourees, including companies (Porsche, IBM, NASA and Microsoft) as well as personalities such as Captain Cousteau.

What do IBM and the Ateliers Louis Moinet have in common? The answer lies in the fact that they are companies that have made a substantial contribution to the sector in which they are active. It is unquestionably too early to be able to evaluate the importance of the Ateliers’ timepieces as such, given that the company has only just celebrated its tenth anniversary and makes only two a day. What the IIPP set out to reward was the overall approach of the Ateliers: that of reinvigorating the work of the visionary watchmaker Louis Moinet, his vital contribution to his art and, from a more global perspective, this exceptional man’s career – all within the framework of a coherent entrepreneurial approach.

 

Louis-Moinet-Jules-Verne-Instrument-3

The Jules Verne Instrument 3, one of the brand’s emblematic pieces, with its Côtes du Jura dial, specific to the Ateliers. © David Carteron / Delos Communications


In ten years, the team under the guidance of Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO and Creative Director, has succeeded in restoring Louis Moinet to the Who’s Who of the most brilliant watchmakers of his time. The intuition born in 2004 was indeed definitively confirmed in 2013 when the Ateliers sparked widespread amazement by unveiling the first chronograph of all time dated 1816 – which in addition paved the way to high frequency exactly a century ahead of its time!

"Louis Moinet has the stature of a Da Vinci"

Patrimoine endormi

 “But this is only the beginning of the adventure” says Jean-Marie Schaller. “The work that Louis Moinet left behind harbours as yet unsuspected wealth.” Without elaborating on this hint, the CEO implies that other discoveries are buried in the founder’s heritage.

This is a plausible hypothesis. An astronomer, sculptor, painter and teacher at the Paris School of Fine Arts, Louis Moinet has the stature of a Da Vinci, relatively speaking and considering that the latter left a prolific, well-documented body of work, whereas very little has filtered down from Louis Moinet’s heritage. Until now.


Improbable alchemy

What is left for the Ateliers Louis Moinet to achieve? Technically, the pieces are entirely free of any of the flaws and typical teething problems that can spell the end of a road for a young firm, and especially an independent one. Aesthetically speaking, the creativity of the Ateliers remains as boldly vibrant as ever. All the models unveiled to date – from the Astralis to the Tempograph via the Jules Vernes and the Mecanograph – have been regarded with cautious amazement. However, all have in fact found favour with the public in record time. The price positioning remains undeniably on the high side, reflecting the ultra-limited series, the large proportion of tourbillons and above all, the presence of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial minerals of rare complexity – both when it comes to finding them and working with them.

This unlikely chemistry has given rise to a brand that has no real competition. Its critics used to refer to it as an isolated player. Today, people tend to speak of the Moinet “niche”. Tomorrow, people will doubtless refer to the “Moinet case”, a brand that has charted its own course, just like the man who sailed his particular seas a century ahead of his contemporaries. “We are obviously not trying to get ahead of ourselves, but for a company with such a beautiful, rare, unique and distinctive history, we have high hopes of a favourable future,” concludes Jean-Marie Schaller.

 

Louis Moinet Jean-Marie Schaller UNESCO

Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO, Ateliers Louis Moinet, with the Presidency of the IIPP, at the Palace of UNESCO on 8 July. © David Carteron / Delos Communications