Les Ateliers Louis Moinet, an independent company based in the village of Saint-Blaise (Canton Neuchâtel) has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Basking in the glow of the prize recently awarded by UNESCO for its contribution to the development of the watchmaking art, it is unveiling at Baselworld a new milestone aimed at restoring the name of Louis Moinet (1768 – 1853) to its rightful place in the master-watchmakers’ hall of fame, as much for his treatise on watchmaking, a touchstone of modern horological theory, as for his invention of the high-frequency chronograph (1816).
It is indeed with the chronograph that Louis Moinet is once again distinguishing itself in 2015, as its CEO Jean-Marie Schaller cleverly points out, “to celebrate our 10th anniversary and the 199th anniversary of the compteur de tierces" – the exact name of this first ever chronograph, dated 1816.
Memoris, the first ‘chronograph-watch’
This new release “is probably the most important launch we’ve ever done,” explains Jean-Marie Schaller. “It’s a bridge, the embodiment of memory, that which lives today on yesterday’s foundations”.
The spectacular Memoris is the first creation ever to reveal the entire chronograph movement on the dial side. It is thus not merely a skeleton model or a dial-free watch, but instead a movement based on an unprecedented construction whose chronograph complication has been specifically designed and built to be placed on the dial side, in the upper part of the watch, while its main going train remains on the case-back side.
The central element of the Memoris is its coupling clutch, for which Louis Moinet has chosen a vertical column-wheel version in keeping with the finest horological traditions. This component thus appears at 12 o’clock in an extremely prominent position. It is activated by a single pusher, another tribute to watchmaking traditions. The entire complication thereby occupies the largest surface area of the model and is clearly designed to be revealed in full – making it the first watch chronograph in watchmaking history. Timekeeping shifts from being a function to being the primary focus, with telling the time becoming secondary. Louis Moinet is thereby paying a vibrant tribute to the invention by the eponymous founder of the Ateliers.
As we have come to expect from a brand that produces only two watches per day, the Memoris with its 46 mm diameter will be available in two versions issued in 60-piece limited editions: one in white gold and the other in pink gold.
AstroMoon, head in the stars
The AstroMoon is the second major new launch from Louis Moinet this year. It is based on a calibre inspired by a benchmark 1970s movement, the Venus 179. It features a monocompax double-pusher chronograph function with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and a large sweep-seconds hand. The latter is tipped with a star, like the previoiusly introduced Astralis model, while the hands showing the time end with a Goutte de Rosée (dewdrop), that has become one of the brand’s aesthetic signature touches. This is however the first time that it introduces a model with a dial in aventurine, whose intense blue colour is picked up on the screws visible on the dial side as well as by the strap.
The model also features a particularly broad tourbillon carriage held by an upper bridge built on the same model as the chronograph disc. Once again, Louis Moinet thereby highlights the aesthetic link between its two favourite themes (precision with the regulating organ and chronometry with the chronograph). The watch also displays the moon phase at 6 o’clock in a totally open way that provides an optimal view of the raw material composing it: authentic lunar meteorite.
Mecanograph City and Derrick Tourbillon : next in line
Louis Moinet rounds off this Baselworld 2015 with two variations on existing models. The first relates to its Derrick Tourbillon that was presented in 2013 and got a politely sceptical reception. We all saw what happened then, since the Derrick Tourbillon sold out extremely fast and has become a brand best-seller that has been repeatedly re-issued in ever more exclusive editions. The latest 12-piece limited series features an enamelled dial framed by a white gold case and reprises the now famous animated oil derrick.
Louis Moinet’s journey ends in Moscow, to which it dedicates the latest chapter in its Mecanograph City saga. This collection created in 2013 pays tributes to the world’s greatest capitals. “After New York and Qatar, Moscow features a guilloché pattern that is again different, more intense and yet darker and more mysterious”, says Jean-Marie Schaller. “It’s a tribute to a city with an exceptional artistic past and a keen fascination for hand craftsmanship, as the Fabergé eggs have long since proven”. Available in pink or white gold versions, the Mecanograph City “Moscow” will also be enriched with an authentic lunar meteorite fragment and issued in two 60-piece editions.