A few years ago I was riding on a train from Oxford to London when I received an email advising me that independent watchmaker Louis Moinet Chronograph Skeleton Replica watch would be making a very exciting announcement later that day via a live streamed press conference. As any serious watch aficionado will tell you there are few things more important in the world of high-end timepieces than heritage.
At the time the company was barely eight years old and despite creating some seriously impressive watches were still struggling to gain a real foothold in the market. Then fortune smiled on founders Jean-Marie Schaller and Micaela Bartolucci.
All In The Name
Some achieve it by virtue of the reputations they earned during their time working for one of the big names before stepping out on their own; Greubel Forsey, MB&F and Urwerk are all great examples of this. Other brands however, such as Arnold & Son and of course Louis Moinet, acquire their heritage from some of history’s most famous fake Louis Moinet watchmakers and then re-interpret their creations using modern technology and cutting edge techniques.
Many of the best known watch-making houses have been established for a century or more, making it extremely difficult for new players entering the market to gain credibility in a relatively short period of time.
Of course the more famous the watchmaker and his creations, the better, which brings us back to Mr. Schaller and Ms. Bartolucci and their press conference.
At that press conference in 2012 however that’s exactly what Jean-Marie Schaller informed the watch community would be happening.People often make use of the phrase “rewriting history” to describe a momentous event but it’s very rare that they mean it in the literal sense.
So much so in fact that Louis Moinet even goes as far as calling the Memoris the first chronograph-watch in watchmaking history, suggesting that the chronograph itself is the primary function of the watch and the indication of time is something of an additional side benefit.Fast-forward three years and the team at the modern-day incarnation of Louis Moinet are still celebrating this momentous discovery and now they have a watch of their own to mark the occasion. Called the Chronograph Memoris, the focus – as you might have guessed – is entirely on the chronograph.
Mr Schaller explains this sentiment much more eloquently than I can, saying; “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. Our starting point was the opposite: sweeping away the past and making the chronograph the heart of our design; the central component to which we then added a time function, rather than the other way round.”
Thisallows the piece to be wound up in both directions with minimal travel, thus optimizing each movement of the rotor, recovering its energy, and winding the movement more effectively.In total the movement is comprised of 302 components, with over sixty of those parts designed and manufactured specifically for the chronograph. Beating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and offering 48 hours of power in reserve, the LM54 also features something Louis Moinet calls “Energie Plus”; an automatic pawl winding system that has a spring with a ‘crab claw’ design.
Presented in an impressive 46 mm case, available in pink gold or white gold, in three limited editions of just 60 pieces each, there is no doubt the beautifully finished dial of the Chronograph Memoris makes a statement on the wrist. What I really like though is the fact that Louis Moinet has resisted the urge to try and recreate history and instead focused on honouring the incredible accomplishments of its namesake in its own, modern-day style.
As you can see in the photos the entire chronograph function has been shifted to the dial, make no mistake though, this is not just a traditional skeletonized movement. Rather, the LM54 caliber, built for Louis Moinet by their movement manufacturer Concept, has been specially designed so that the traditional workings of the automatic mechanism are hidden away on the back of the movement, beneath the plate, leaving just the chronograph mechanism exposed on the dial. It’s certainly a novel idea and, now that I have seen the Louis Moinet skeleton copy watch in person myself, one I have to say I really appreciate.