Memoris by Louis Moinet

It was just recently that the brand has been cited all over the watchmaking world. The reason is as simple as impressive: after a discovery of a timepiece achieved in 1816, Louis Moinet has actually become the very inventor of the chronograph. Moinet was born in 1768 in Bourges, France, and was an adept to arts and horology. Since 1800 he devoted his lifetime to watchmaking, and achieved great success among important clients like Napoleon Bonaparte and Thomas Jefferson. Colleague of Abraham-Louis Breguet, he developed great talent in the state of art; proof of this is the first chronograph ever made. He called it “compteur de tierces”, a piece able to measure events to the sixtieth of a second (a tierce, in French.)


The work of Louis Moinet also includes alarm watches, regulators and astronomical watches. As the inventor of unprecedented concepts, he devised some truly astonishing mechanisms. For example, several of his pocket-watch calibres boasted unusual arrangements of the components (such as with the whole set of gears built around the same pinion). Moreover, it invented a toothed mainspring that improved the rating of the watch – a spring he poetically described as being a “half-ripe cherry red” colour when fired in the kiln. He also developed a new balance-cock that facilitated winding. After tireless efforts, he created a mobile balance-spring stud so as to poise the balance correctly without needing to dismantle anything.

Another of his great contributions to the field was his Traité d’horlogerie, a book that was a Bible for watchmakers of his time. Despite his talent, he was eventually forgotten though his genius has been recently recovered and recognized. Ironically, Louis Moinet wrote in his treatise that “the true artist should never be behind the times.” It’s a modest assertion by this accomplished artist, craftsman, and inventor, if you consider that the high frequency of his chronograph was 100 years ahead of its time.


It’s already 160 years since Louis Moinet brand exists and a revival is intended. The Ateliers Louis Moinet are at Saint-Blaise in Canton Neuchâtel’s watchmaking heartland. This independent company was started by Jean-Marie Schaller 15 years ago with the aim of producing watches according to Louis Moinet’s horological approach: technology wrapped in art. The company’s goal is “to restore Louis Moinet to his rightful place in watchmaking’s hall of fame.” The Ateliers specialise in limited editions and unique pieces of distinctive design like the Memoris, a timepiece to celebrate the birth of the chronograph. The watch has the entire chronograph function shifted to the dial, so that each piece of the chronograph can be admired as soon as the pusher is pressed. Available in pink or white gold, 60 pieces each material.


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