Louis Moinet was one of the greatest watchmakers ever and the inventor of the chronograph in 1816. Today, his spirit lives on thanks to Jean-Marie Schaller, who as founder and creative director of the Louis Moinet brand, revived the prestigious name of the inspirational master watchmaker. Louis Moinet is today an independent watch brand located in Saint-Blaise, Switzerland, specializing in the creation of high-end timepieces, often featuring exotic materials and innovative technology, underpinned by the philosophy of limited edition mechanical art. All of Louis Moinet’s timepieces are either exclusive limited editions or unique pieces. In addition to being credited for inventing the chronograph, French horologist Louis Moinet was also a purveyor of highly elaborated clocks to a select group of clients in the 19th century that included Napoleon, the Tsar Alexander I, King George IV of England, Marshal Murat, King of Naples and even U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.
The Louis Moinet Memoris pays homage to the father of the chronograph by placing the chronograph function as the center of the watch and not the other way around. During its launch last year, Jean-Marie Schaller mentioned: “It’s probably the most important launch we’ve ever done.” This timepiece celebrates the Ateliers’ tenth anniversary and the bicentennial of the invention of the chronograph by Louis Moinet. Therefore, Louis Moinet no longer wants to see the chronograph as a complication, but rather as the primary function of the timepiece. The Louis Moinet Memoris is the first chronograph-watch in watchmaking history, where the chronograph is the primary function and time telling is seeing as the complication.
In short, Ateliers Louis Moinet did exactly what the eponymous inventor of the chronograph did in his day; taking a completely different approach to watchmaking rather than attempting merely to improve on an existing model. Indeed, that’s how Moinet invented the chronograph and was the first to achieve high frequencies. While the starting point may be easy to understand, turning it into mechanical reality required a great deal of effort. Sharing its strategic thinking with Concepto, the movement manufacturer that has worked alongside the brand since its launch, Louis Moinet considered the usual set of traditional watchmaking questions, but applied them to the chronograph: what should be highlighted, what techniques should be used, and what should be shown off. A thorough knowledge of the history of watchmaking led to the first answers. There can be no doubt that any noble chronograph must have a traditional column wheel. What’s more, tradition dictates that it should feature a monopusher, the most delicate part of the exercise. And given its central role, it made sense to highlight the chronograph by having it occupy the main stage on the dial.
That left the question of what to leave visible, on display. For Louis Moinet, the answer here was quite simply everything: with Memoris, the entire chronograph function has been shifted to the dial. As a result, the timepiece lives up to every possible expectation. Each aspect of the chronograph’s action can be admired in its entirety, as soon as the pusher is pressed. The column wheel orchestrates the graceful ballet of the mechanism of steel and gears, passing information to the hands. The chronograph reigns in splendid isolation on the dial, leaving the beholder in no doubt that it is neither a skeleton nor an additional component: the all-new movement has been designed for the chronograph alone, and places it center stage. Louis Moinet has opted to place the traditional workings of the automatic mechanism on the back of the movement, beneath the plate.
To offer uncompromised view of the main function of this watch, Louis Moinet chose to go with a fully skeletonized dial with chapter ring for the 60-second central hand chronograph, hour and minute dial at 6 o'clock in white lacquer with blued 'Gouttes de Rosée' —dew drop— hands with luminous tips, a running seconds skeletonized indicator at 9 o'clock and a skeletonized 30-minute chronograph register at 3 o'clock. When using the chronograph, every part of its functioning is fully visible on the dial side. Below you will see the column wheel right at 12 o'clock.
The Case, Clasp, Crown & Monopusher
To showcase the chronograph in the style it deserves, Louis Moinet has redeveloped practically every decorative item, with a new case, new hands, a new dial, a new oscillating weight, a new folding clasp, and more. As a bonus, Louis Moinet has come up with a wholly exclusive use of synthetic gemstones. Usually destined to serve as good pivots and provide proper lubrication of the movement components, gemstones have now found a new purpose elsewhere. Black zircon, in a screwed setting, has been used decoratively on the case horns. The final result of all this is Memoris, a 46 mm x 15.75 mm timepiece, available in 18K rose gold or white gold, in three limited editions of just 60 pieces each and weighing almost 171 grams. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters.
The case composed of 52 pieces and designed with a two-part bezel and 6 screws, is assembled at a 17° angle. While the monopusher features a “Clous de Paris” pattern, the winding crown is engraved with a 'Fleur-de-lis' —Louis Moinet's logo.
The case lugs or horns, are screwed to the case by settings that include a black zircon jewel and 3 screws per lug.
The caseband features the Louis Moinet signature and the watch is equipped with a hand-sewn Louisiana alligator black leather strap with 18K rose gold folding clasp with 'Fleur-de-lis' motif.
The beating heart inside the Louis Moinet Memoris is the new Louis Moinet automatic calibre LM54. Composed of 302 parts —147 have been designed and manufactured to allow the chronograph to be presented atop a dedicated movement plate, separating it from the automatic movement beneath—, the movement beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph to provide a power reserve of 48 hours. The movement, also features what Louis Moinet likes to call 'Energie Plus' system. This system is an ingenious, automatic pawl winding system featuring an elegant spring with a ‘crab claw’ design. Completing the system, a miniature ceramic ball bearing is mounted on the dual-material rotor. The advantage of 'Energie Plus' is that it allows the piece to be wound up in both directions, with a minimum of excess travel. This optimizes each movement of the rotor, recovering its energy, and winding the movement more effectively.
In the finest prestige watch-making tradition, the swivel of the yoke is aligned along the same axis as the second wheel to improve the engagement of the latter’s moving parts. This arrangement provides the best possible distance between the second wheel and the clutch wheel, for every stage of the chronograph function at start, stop and reset.
The movement can be fully appreciated on the dial side and the case back side. The case back is screwed to the case with seven screws, engraved with its individual number and with the traditional Louis Moinet symbols.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the watch wears slightly bigger to its actual size but not by much. The wrist presence is simply remarkable and definitely one of those conversation timepieces for sure. The Louis Moinet Memoris is available in a limited edition of 60 pieces for each metal.
Sticker Price CHF49,500 for 18K rose gold and CHF55,000 for 18K white gold. For more info on Louis Moinet click here.