Memoris By Louis Moinet: Paying Homage To Historical Chronographic Ingenuity
Louis Moinet is one of those wonderful independent brands that makes my heart swell every time I see one of its watches. Success hasn’t been a given for the marque, and I can truly say that I am so pleased for Jean-Marie Schaller and Micaela Bartolucci when I see what they continue to create day for day and with such an extreme level of passion, dedication, and experience.
I was particularly pleased for them when two years ago a stroke of luck turned up where it might have been least expected: at auction. The “Important Watches” sale held at Geneva’s Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues on May 14, 2012 contained a timepiece that went virtually unnoticed at the time.
Thanks to a well-founded suspicion, Schaller was able to acquire it and have experts put it into working order, at which point the enormity of the find dawned on them.
Backed up by an elite panel of noted historians in the watch industry (please see more on this by reading History Rebooted: The Chronograph’s Inventor is . . . Louis Moinet!), it was now obvious that Nicolas Rieussec (1781-1866) was not the inventor of the chronograph as was previously thought.
Instead, the historical artifact that the auction item turned out to be proved that Louis Moinet not only invented a working chronograph in 1816, but that he was in all probability the first horologist to successfully dabble in very high frequencies, too.
The Moinet stopwatch resembles the modern chronograph much more closely than Rieussec’s invention measuring 112 x 85 x 58 mm and encased in a mahogany box did, which in fact looks more like a marine chronometer.
Invented for astronomical use, Moinet’s timer (called a compteur de tierces) could measure 1/60th of a second, indicated by the central hand on the pocket watch-style timepiece. It ran at an astounding frequency of 30 Hz (216,000 vph), a feat that would not be achieved again for a century.
Two years later, perfectly timed to fall between the year of the contemporary brand’s tenth anniversary (2014) and the bicentennial of the original piece (2016), Louis Moinet introduces a timepiece that pays homage to the compteur de tierces, albeit in a modern way.
The new Memoris places emphasis on the chronograph function rather than the time-telling displays. Schaller has an interesting viewpoint: not to see the chronograph as a complication here, but rather as the primary function: he says it is a “watch chronograph” rather than a “watch.”
The new chronograph, which contains traditional column wheel and clutch components, dominates the skeletonized display. It is activated by just one single chronograph pusher.
It does not run at the same high frequency as the 200-year-old compteur de tierces. But it is equally as charming, if not more so.
For more information, please visit www.louismoinet.com.
Case: 46 mm, white or pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber LM54, created in conjunction with Concepto, 28,800 vph, 302 individual components
Functions: hours, minutes; three-counter chronograph
Limitation: 60 pieces in each metal
Price: 49,500 Swiss francs (pink gold), 55,000 Swiss francs (white gold)