This month, we met with Louis Moinet at Watches and Wonders Geneva. Their novelties, while impressive on their own, become outstanding when you consider the brand’s history. Before discussing Louis Moinet’s 2023 releases, let’s briefly cover their background.
Most watch enthusiasts know the name Abraham-Louis Breguet: inventor of the automatic winding mechanism, tourbillon, overcoil, and countless other horological staples. Fewer enthusiasts know the name of Breguet’s close friend, Louis Moinet. As it turns out, Moinet is one of the most influential figures in the history of watchmaking. Between 1815-1816, Moinet invented the chronograph and high-frequency stopwatch, as confirmed by the Guiness Book of World Records. His clocks were owned by the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander I of Russia.
Image Source: louismoinet.com
Unlike Breguet, Louis Moinet’s brand did not persevere following his death. In 2004, Jean-Marie Schaller revived the Moinet name, establishing the modern-day brand: Les Ateliers Louis Moinet SA. Today, the brand honors its horological history while pushing the boundaries of contemporary watchmaking. Each of their pieces is either a limited edition or bespoke creation. This year, Louis Moinet had a lot to share at Watches and Wonders.
Louis Moinet Impulsion
New this year, the Louis Moinet Impulsion combines two close-to-home complications in a stunning open-worked layout: the chronograph and the tourbillon. As previously mentioned, Louis Moinet invented the chronograph and his close friend Breguet invented the tourbillon. The Impulsion marries these high complications in a unique format. From the dial-side of the watch, you’re able to see the mechanics of both complications at work. Twenty-eight pieces feature a mesmerizing aventurine mainplate (pictured above) while another 28 feature a simple black mainplate.
As with all Louis Moinet watches, the Impulsion’s single-pusher chronograph action is extremely satisfying: a result of their stringent build quality and consistency. I would be remiss not to mention the hollowed-out lugs. Similar lugs appear on other Louis Moinet models (they have become a large part of the brand’s design identity), but like the chronograph and tourbillon mechanism, the Impulsion’s hollow lug design is visible from the dial-side of the watch.
Louis Moinet Time to Race
Louis Moinet’s motorsport-inspired Time to Race is immediately recognizable by its large number at 6 o’clock. This number – the backdrop for an hour-and-minute subdial – is determined by the buyer; the Time to Race collection is one of unique bespoke pieces. Buyers choose their watch’s number and color configuration. New to 2023 are two colors: Silver Winner (pictured above) and Orange Papaya (pictured below). The former displays a silver and red motif: an homage to German motorsport. The latter is an attention-grabbing orange and blue, said to evoke the striking design philosophy behind contemporary hypercars. Whatever colors you choose, they will be observed through a dramatically domed sapphire crystal. This was the first thing I noticed while handling the watch. The crystal quite literally elevates the entire Time to Race experience. While the collection is nothing new, the Silver Winner and Orange Papaya are exciting evolutions of an already-unique silhouette.
Image Source: louismoinet.com
Louis Moinet Jules Verne
The Jules Verne collection is made up of 24 watches: 3 material configurations with 8 examples each. Starting from the left in the picture above, we have the meteorite Jules Verne ‘To the Moon’. The buyer can choose one of eight meteorite inner dials; each insert has a unique pattern. In the middle, we have the opal Jules Verne ‘Mystery Island’. Again, there are eight opal dials available to choose from. Once one is gone, the selection gets smaller. Finally on the right, we have my personal favorite, the lapis lazuli Jules Verne ‘Under the Sea’. The complementary orange and blue color scheme is simply unbeatable. All three configurations feature a lacquered guilloche outer dial in green, blue, and orange, respectively. Of course, we see a 6 o’clock flying tourbillon as tribute to Moinet’s close friend Abraham-Louis Breguet. These watches, while time-only, are far from simple. They have many complicated elements: a flying tourbillon; precious stones; handcrafted guilloche. That said, the Jules Verne presents as a refined and cohesive package.
Louis Moinet Savanna Collection
Upon discovering Louis Moinet’s Savanna collection, I was taken aback. I am delighted to have spent time with these watches; those 10-15 minutes are among my fondest memories at Watches and Wonders. The Savanna collection is made up of just three watches, each displaying a Savannah animal on the dial. Pictured above, you’ll see a leopard, elephant, and lion, left to right. The dial is constructed of 81 hand-painted puzzle pieces placed at four different heights. At 6 o’clock you’ll find a familiar complication for Louis Moinet, a flying tourbillon. Unfortunately, all three Savanna watches are spoken for, but the artistry and craftsmanship of these pieces must be highlighted.
Les Ateliers Louis Moinet SA has to be one of the busiest watchmakers out there. The sheer quantity of unique high horological pieces – just this year – is remarkable. I didn’t even cover their updated Tempograph Spirit and Memoris Spirit models. Louis Moinet’s timepieces are an intersection of imagination and execution. They combine extraordinary creative concepts with historically-relevant haute horology. I’d like to thank Nathalie and the rest of the Louis Moinet team for their time and hospitality.