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Swiss watchmaker Louis Moinet has unveiled a visionary creation, positioning the chronograph not simply as a complication but as a central component of the watch.
Launched in honour of the memory of its founder and to mark the brand’s tenth anniversary, the new creation, called Memoris, is on show at the Baselworld 2015 watch and jewellery show currently under way in Basel, Switzerland.
“It’s probably the most important launch we’ve ever done,” says Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Louis Moinet.
The timepiece stands at a historic crossroads: the atelier’s 10th anniversary, and the bicentenary of the chronograph invented by Louis Moinet.
“As such, it was important for the creation to be markedly different from its forebear, as well as celebrate its heritage. While everything – or almost everything – chronograph-related already seems to have been invented, there was still one step nobody had dared take: no longer seeing the chronograph as a complication, but rather as the primary function of the timepiece. And so Memoris, the first watch chronograph in watchmaking history, was born,” he says.
The concept began to come into being almost three years ago now, with Louis Moinet starting again from scratch.
“We couldn’t draw inspiration from what had gone before; everyone else worked from the premise that the chronograph was an additional complication on top of the time function,” explains Schaller. “Our starting point was the opposite: sweeping away the past and making the chronograph the starting point of our design; the central component to which we then added a time function, rather than the other way round.”
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 – among his other remarkable lifetime achievements.
START FROM SCRATCH
Sharing its strategic thinking with Concepto, the movement manufacturer that has worked alongside the brand since its outset, 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 clutch column wheel. What’s more, tradition dictates that it should have a single pusher, the most delicate part of the exercise. And given its central role, it made sense to highlight the chronograph by having it occupy pride of place 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 as it is engaged, stopped and reset. The graceful ballet of the column wheel, cams and gears is a fascinating sight, free from distractions: Louis Moinet has opted to place the workings of what has here become a “time complication” to the rear of the movement, beneath the plate. 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 centre stage.
A NEW APPROACH TO THE CASING
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 foldover catch, and more.
As a bonus, Louis Moinet has come up with a completely exclusive use of jewels. These parts – usually destined to serve as good pivots and make the components of the movement move smoothly – have been put to a new use elsewhere, featuring in the case lugs. “We decided that smooth, effortless rotation didn’t need to be reserved solely for the gear train,” explains Schaller.
The final result of all this is Memoris: a 46 mm timepiece, available in rose gold or white gold, in two limited editions of just 60 pieces each. Embodying the essence of true commemoration – all the life of the present, rooted in history – it links Louis Moinet’s heritage with the creative vision of the Ateliers that today honour his memory.
Here are some interesting facts about Memoris:
Over 60 parts 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 swivel of the yoke has been made concentric with the second wheel to improve the engagement of the moving parts.
“Energie Plus” is a clever, automatic pawl winding system that provides greater efficiency by allowing the watch to be wound up in both directions.
In addition to “Energie Plus”, a miniature ceramic ball bearing mounted on the dual-material rotor makes winding up operations smoother by minimising friction.
The new caliber on the Memoris is the LM54. With a rhythm of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz), it has 302 components and provides a 48-hour power reserve.
Ateliers Louis Moinet was founded in Saint-Blaise, Neuchâtel, in 2004. The fully-independent firm was established to honour the memory of Louis Moinet (1768-1853): master watchmaker, certified inventor of the chronograph (1816), and pioneer in the use of very high frequencies (216,000 vibrations per hour). The brand’s core values are creativity, exclusivity, art and design.
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