There are some brands whose trajectory is clear for all to see, or at least capable of being guessed. One thing is sure: Ateliers Louis Moinet is not among them.
Each Baselworld opens up a whole new universe for this emerging, independent brand. You can always recognise the brand’s distinctive aesthetic features and technical mastery, but never anticipate just how all this will be put together.
In 2014, the first ports of call for Louis Moinet’s latest expression of its art are New York and Doha. The iconic Mecanograph has been chosen to showcase a unique dial, depicting the familiar skylines and shapes of these great cities.
In the first of these models, the central element is One World Trade Center, the highest skyscraper in the country, 541 metres tall, chosen because it symbolises the renewal of New York. Other skyscrapers can be made out, too – including the Chrysler Building and the Empire State, each in turn being the highest in the world when they were built in the early 1930s. Erected in 1883, the legendary Brooklyn Bridge across the East River is also depicted in the background, beneath a dark blue, star-studded night sky. This urban engraving alone requires over 20 hours of work by hand. It opens at 1 o’clock to show a meteorite fragment – one of the firm’s distinguishing features. The automatic movement by Concepto features two hands and a small seconds hand, also with an opening through which the escapement can be seen.
The same ingredients have been used for the second timepiece, which pays tribute to Doha, the capital of Qatar. Like the first, this watch will be produced in two limited editions with 60 timepieces each, in pink gold or titanium. In this variation, though, the “New York” meteorite has been replaced by the “Qatar 001” variety!
“In due time, other major metropolises will be depicted. The idea of the CITY line is to offer a poetic journey round the modern world featuring its most iconic cities,” explains Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Ateliers Louis Moinet.
In the same oriental vein, Louis Moinet is also presenting the Astrolabe Tourbillon. The word astrolabe comes from the Greek astrolabos, meaning “an instrument to measure the position of heavenly bodies”. The twin flat projection displays the movement of the stars across the heavens. The invention of the astrolabe is attributed to the Greek scholar Hipparchus (190-120 BC), and it was widely used by Arabian astronomers from the eighth century onwards.
The timepiece owes its origins to the CEO of Ateliers Louis Moinet himself, Jean-Marie Schaller. In his quest to get his hands on one of these astrolabes, he contacted Martin Brunold, probably the only high quality astrolabe manufacturer in the world. Together, they have ended up producing a series of twelve “Al Sarraj” watches, echoing the model manufactured by Ahmad Ibn Al-Sarraj in the fourteenth century and considered to be one of the most advanced astronomical developments in the Islamic word. The Astrolabe’s timekeeper is made by the manufacture: a grey gold 47 mm mechanical tourbillon, imitating the aesthetics of Al Sarraj.
“The astrolabe is an exceptional collector’s item – almost unique in the world. The Tourbillon Astrolabe replicates the function of the period astrolabe: telling the time accurately, both by day and by night. The mechanical Tourbillon Astrolabe is fully hand-crafted and assembled, faithful to the poetic spirit of Ibn Al-Sarraj’s masterpiece,” explains Jean-Marie Schaller.
As has already been pointed out, Louis Moinet is an unpredictable brand – and this can be seen yet again in Basel with its third tribute timepiece, this one featuring the Dragon! There are no borders for Louis Moinet, now venturing onto the Asian continent for a new limited edition featuring twelve art watches.
Over fifty hours of hand engraving are needed to bring to life this mythical creature – coiled around a tourbillon at 6 o’clock and the barrel spring at midday, thus forming the lucky figure 8. Its eyes are rubies, forming a delightful contrast with the synthetic rubies on the manual movement, presented in a 47 mm case.