BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
Watchmaking is full of historic names which are usually associated with developing some type of watch or complication, it’s very rare that someone hasn’t contributed anything at all to watchmaking. Louis Moinet is renowned as the inventor of the chronograph function, although Breguet claims that Abraham-Louis Breguet invented it. What we do know is that Moinet worked very closely with Breguet, who recognised Moinet’s talents as a horologist. Moinet was already well associated with the arts, having taught fine arts and studying architecture and sculpting.
The Louis Moinet name lives on today and is still closely associated with the chronograph complication. The first of today’s watches, the Memoris Spirit chronograph, shows that by wearing the chronograph function on its face like a tattoo. Unlike facial tattoos, which usually look ridiculous, the Louis Moinet looks anything but. The monopusher chronograph with a column wheel is beautiful, it’s rare we get to see this much lever action going on on a chronograph watch, let alone on the dial of it.
Most of the Memoris Spirit’s dial is dedicated to the chronograph and its workings, the time is indicated on a small dial at 6 O’clock, but the black dial contrasts with the silvery hands and is easy to read in person. What’s not so easy to read is the chronograph, the verdant green baseplate of the dial is very attractive and goes with the green strap, but the red-ish colour of the chronograph hands gets lost in the busy dial. Some other versions of this watch have bright contrasting hands which are easy to see, though.
At 40.7mm across and made of grade 5 titanium, the Memoris Spirit wears comfortably, and its case is smooth like a pebble. It’s not a light watch, despite the material used in the case, but it has a reassuring quality feel to it, as does the pusher for the chronograph. The movement used is the calibre LM84, which has an elegant automatic rotor keeping up the power reserve of 48 hours, the beat rate is 4Hz. Water resistance is 50m. Louis Moinet is making 60 examples of these, we don’t know the exact price but expect it to be around CHF 30,000 before tax.
The next piece, called TIME TO RACE is broadly similar to the Memoris Spirit. It features the case with the same dial layout with the chronograph taking up most of it. But, there are some unique differences here which make the TIME TO RACE special. For example, the time dial features a unique racing number, which is specified by the client when they order the watch, it can be any one or two-digit number. There are also different colours available which evoke the days of old-school racing when countries had different colours assigned to their cars. Many are available, but I would expect Rosso Corsa, Bleu de France and British Racing Green to be the most popular. The colour of the strap also corresponds with the tachymeter and hands on the dial for a harmonious display, although, the watches with brighter-coloured hands are much easier to read due to the contrast with the backdrop, there’s also lume on the hands and markers. Another change is the baseplate of the dial, which is carbon fibre.
Powering these watches is the calibre LM96, which has a 4Hz beat rate and 48-hour power reserve. I’m guessing that the reason the number has changed is that carbon fibre is used in the movement, otherwise, it seems identical to the LM84 and is no less beautiful. Each of these is a unique piece which is developed with the client to suit their personal taste and so there isn’t an exact price for one.
The final watch we’re looking at for now is called the IMPULSION, it fuses the works of Louis Moinet and Abraham-Louis Breguet in one watch. The dial is quite similar to the others, it’s a hallmark of Louis Moinet to display the chronograph mechanism on the dial. With that said, this watch is also a flying tourbillon watch, and a tourbillon is something we like to see not only because it’s fascinating and technical, but because they make watches expensive so it’s good to see where the money goes. That changes the dial layout, so the time is now back in the centre of the display, thus making it easier to read.
While the watch seems quite similar to the others, having all these extra complexities and keeping the watch recognisable is no easy feat, it’s not the case that Louis Moinet can slot in bits and bobs at their leisure and have them all work, the effort is commendable. The watch you’re looking at is a special version of the IMPULSION, there are 28 examples with a black mainplate, 28 examples with an aventurine mainplate but only 3 examples with an orange mainplate and contrasting yellow hands. The orange and yellow are quite wild, however, they still combine well on the dial to make this a very pleasant experience. The manually-wound calibre LM114, made in partnership with Concepto, looks beautiful from the front and the back. It has a 96-hour power reserve, too. It’s mounted in a unique case of 18k red gold combined with blue grade 5 titanium, it measures 42.5mm across. Louis Moinet might be an old-school name in watchmaking, but this proves that the brand is very forward-thinking in terms of design. Like the other watches, it’s a pleasure to wear and interact with the chronograph. Before taxes, the price is CHF 130,000.