Last week, the valiant knight of the watchmaking skies Zénith took us to witness the birth of the micromechanical stars of the eponymous brand which will shine in the celestial dome of the watchmaking novelties this year.
But as we were leaving the atmosphere with lightness to join the firmness of the earth back, a violent and brilliant shine from the confines of the universe suddenly burst, enveloping our aircraft with a dazzling light.
As brief as intense, these few moments lifted us in a sustentation state far beyond that of the air, but indeed in that of time itself.
Subjugated by this real supernatural experience, a single choice of reason imposed itself upon Le Claqueur de Doigts, that of discovering at all costs the origin of this radiating scintillation.
True to its eternal generosity, our brave Pilot agreed to push his proud aerodyne El Primero a few more miles to drop us off at the Swiss Cape Canaveral which, without knowing it then, was going to propel us straight to a new galaxy of the horological sky map.
Our farewells until we meet again to our worthy escort Zenith made, we’re now ready to get on board of an horological rocket which must lead us to the constellation of novelties of… Louis Moinet !
First and foremost, you need to know that point-blank, Louis Moinet is undeniably part of my top 3 brands of this 2019 edition of Baselworld.
For his unconditional love for Horology first, then his incompressible respect for History, and finally his immeasurable devotion to Art.
Louis Moinet is, well, was in fact an artist first before becoming a legendary watchmaker from the late XVIIIth to the middle of the XIXth century, contemporary of the no less famous Breguet with whom he befriended, and who was the inventor of the very first chronograph in the world with its ” compteur de tierces “.
If his reputation transcended the then borders, since Louis Moinet was, inter alia, the watchmaker of the Tsar of Russia, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson and King George IV of England to name a few, his legacy has gradually vanished into the watchmaking history’s limbo, despite the 20 years of his life he devoted to write the reference book entitled “Le Traité d’Horlogerie”.
And this until 2004, when his biggest fan from the very beginning, the entrepreneur Jean-Marie Schaller, decided to breathe new life into this forgotten heritage as unexpectedly as deservedly.
In just 15 years of existence as a brand, Jean-Marie Schaller has succeeded in enriching the already very broad heritage of Louis Moinet, thanks to an as creative as technical and exclusive approach.
Each Louis Moinet timepiece is indeed either a unique piece or a limited edition of 12 or 60 pieces. A venture that would have dubbed without a doubt Louis Moinet himself, thus recognizing Jean-Marie Schaller as the worthy heir to his watchmaking lineage.
For 2019, the brand wanted to pay tribute to three of the many faces of Louis Moinet which are the one of the Visionary, the Artist, and the Watchmaker through three pieces as lunar in their approaches as martian in their expressive executions.
LOUIS MOINET MOON
For the 150th anniversary of “Around the Moon”, the revolutionary work of Jules Verne which upset the genre of science fiction exactly 100 years before the launch of Apollo XI and the first small step for man but one giant leap for mankind on the Moon, Louis Moinet decided to dedicate a limited edition of 12 pieces in Rose Gold and 60 in Steel to this visionary masterpiece with as it should, an authentic piece of a lunar meteorite on the dial as icing on the cake.
This stellar piece has indeed a genuine fragment of a lunar meteorite at 3 o’clock, framed by the three best-known craters Gassendi, Tycho and Cassini finely engraved on an aerial dial as a faithful reproduction of the surface of the Moon.
To give even more weightlessness to this piece, Louis Moinet suspended his hour markers, and opened a part of the dial to let the lucky owner admire the beating heart of its caliber LM-45 in depth.
LOUIS MOINET MARS
In the same frame of mind of honoring the contemporary peers of the visionary Louis Moinet, Jean-Marie Schaller and his teams have chosen to pay tribute to Percival Lowell, a famous businessman, mathematician, author, and amateur astronomer most well-known for having supported the presence of water channels on Mars and founded the observatory which bears his name in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Percival Lowell indeed carried on the work begun by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli who postulated at the time that the dark traces observed on Mars were vestiges of lakes and ancestral canals, thus witnessing the existence of a Martian civilization which would have formerly use them to irrigate the entire red planet.
Through a limited edition of 12 pieces in Rose Gold and 60 in Steel, it is thus the Olympus Mons that we find in the center of a brass dial, Ascraeus Mons between 1 and 2 o’clock, Pavonis Mons between 4 and 5 o’clock, and Arsia between 5 and 6 o’clock.
As its Moon twin, the Mars edition also possesses capsule containing an authentic meteorite fragment of Mars at 3 o’clock, while its open back reveals an oscillating weight in the same copper tone as the dial with concentric Clous de Paris finishes.
LOUIS MOINET ULTRAVOX
To conclude this triptych of novelties with a bang, literally, and for the 250th anniversary of Louis Moinet birth, Jean-Marie Schaller decided to offer a vibrant testimony, so to speak again, to the one who, from where he is today, must certainly look at him with benevolence and satisfaction.
It is therefore with the exclusive Hour-Striking Ultravox that the 250 years celebrations tones of Louis Moinet resonated.
The choice of an hour-strike complication for this piece is far from innocuous, since the Latin translation for Ultravox means “the ultimate voice”.
For if he was the inventor of the chronograph, Louis Moinet also designed many clocks to decorate the world’s greatest leaders’ salons, from Emperor Napoleon to Tsar Alexander I and the Presidents of the United States Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as neoclassical inspired clocks featuring Minerva, Julius Caesar or Cicero.
In order to let the Ultravox express the full potential of its horological voice, Louis Moinet entrusted its design to one of the greatest contemporary watchmakers and laureate of the Gaia Award, Eric Coudray.
Eric Coudray and his comrades with fairy fingers have thus made a limited series of 28 Pink Gold pieces with a striking mechanism which resonates at the hours passage during the 38 hours of the power reserve of the LM56 self-winding movement.
The open-back of the Ultravox finally reveals an innovative dual parallel rotor system, one of which is used as a classic rotor to power the hours and minutes mechanism, while the second one is exclusively dedicated to power the striking complication.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this article and gone through these three epic timepieces, you certainly better understand now the reasons that forced my heart to ignore the ones of my reasoning, and thus place Louis Moinet in my top 3 Watchmaking Brands.
As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet : There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
And THAT, Louis Moinet and Jean-Marie Schaller both understood it very well.