The “Memoris 200th Anniversary” uses a fixed graver engraving technique that is unprecedented in the history of watchmaking. Each star is worked on individually; never before has there been a starry sky with such a natural sparkle.
Watchmaking art that repurposes guillochage
The “Memoris 200th Anniversary” can be summed up in three points:
– A new hour dial – made in enamel for the first time in history of the piece
– A new mainplate, painted and decorated with star constellations
– A new translucent flange and counter bridge
The starry back consists of a brass plate coated in a translucent blue. The stars have been created using an entirely new fixed graver process. Devised by one of Louis Moinet’s craftsmen, this involves attaching a specially-made lathe to a traditional rose engine (also known as a guillocheuse).
The idea is to combine the power of the rose engine with the precision of a handheld graver. The result differs from that produced by milling or stamping: while it resembles the effect traditionally associated with a guillocheuse inasmuch as material is removed, here this is focused on a tiny area with varying levels of depth – two characteristics that traditional engine turning seeks to avoid at all costs.
What is more, individual stars are all fashioned to feature different angles and depths, so that each and every one captures as much light as possible. Several fixed graver sessions are required per star. The process used is unprecedented in watchmaking – and the outstanding result gives the novel impression that certain stars really are shining.
New, crystalline transparency
For the flange and counter bridge, Ateliers Louis Moinet have used a revolutionary translucent material. Its precise makeup, produced by combining a number of composite materials and high-temperature vacuum moulding, is a closely-guarded secret. It offers a unique advantage that has won over Ateliers Louis Moinet: it is through-coloured – and yet the same time maintains a certain degree of transparency.
Using it in translucent dark blue on the flange of the new Memoris adds an exclusive sense of depth, whereas an opaque flange would have ‘locked down’ the timepiece.
In its natural state, this material is as just as pure and translucent as crystal, but nowhere near as fragile, allowing it to be used for the counter bridge, too; and the latter’s ensuing transparency ensures the wearer can admire the night blue sky – without missing a single star.“It’s probably the most important launch we’ve ever done.” Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Louis Moinet, gets straight to the point in presenting Memoris. The timepiece stands at a historic crossroads: the Ateliers’ tenth anniversary, and the bi-centenary of the chronograph invented by Louis Moinet.
As such, it was important for the creation to be markedly different from its forebear, as well as celebrate its heritage. While everything – or almost everything – chronograph-related already seems to have been invented, there was still one step nobody had dared take: no longer seeing the chronograph as a complication, but rather as the primary function of the timepiece. So much for watch chronographs; Memoris is the first chronograph-watch in watchmaking history.
The chronograph as the primary function – and time as the complication
The concept began to come into being almost three years ago now, with Louis Moinet starting again from scratch. “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,” explains Jean-Marie Schaller. “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.”
In short, Ateliers Louis Moinet did exactly what the eponymous inventor of the chronograph did in his day; taking a completely different approach to watchmaking rather than attempting merely to improve on an existing model. Indeed, that’s how Moinet invented the chronograph and was the first to achieve high frequencies – among his other remarkable lifetime achievements.
A single guiding principle: forget the past and start from scratch
The starting point may be easy to understand, but turning it into mechanical reality required a great deal of effort. Sharing its strategic thinking with Concepto, the movement manufacturer that has worked alongside the brand since its outset, Louis Moinet considered the usual set of traditional watchmaking questions, but applied them to the chronograph: what should be highlighted, what techniques should be used, and what should be shown off?
A thorough knowledge of the history of watchmaking led to the first answers. There can be no doubt that any noble chronograph must have a traditional clutch column wheel. What’s more, tradition dictates that it should feature a monopusher, the most delicate part of the exercise. And given its central role, it made sense to highlight the chronograph by having it occupy pride of place on the dial.
That left the question of what to leave visible, on display. For Louis Moinet, the answer here was quite simply everything: with Memoris, the entire chronograph function has been shifted to the dial.
As a result, the timepiece lives up to every possible expectation. Each aspect of the chronograph’s action can be admired in its entirety, as soon as the pusher is pressed. The column wheel orchestrates the graceful ballet of the mechanism of steel and gears, passing information to the hands. The chronograph reigns in splendid isolation on the dial, leaving the beholder in no doubt that it is neither a skeleton nor an additional component: the all-new movement has been designed for the chronograph alone, and places it centre stage. Louis Moinet has opted to place the traditional workings of the automatic mechanism on the back of the movement, beneath the plate.
A wholly new approach to the casing
To showcase the chronograph in the style it deserves, Louis Moinet has redeveloped practically every decorative item, with a new case, new hands, a new dial, a new oscillating weight, a new folding clasp, and more.
As a bonus, Louis Moinet has come up with a wholly exclusive use of synthetic gemstones. Usually destined to serve as good pivots and provide proper lubrication of the movement components, gemstones have now found a new purpose elsewhere. Black zircon, in a screwed setting, has been used decoratively – on the case horns.
The final result of all this is Memoris: a 46 mm timepiece, available in pink gold or white gold, in three limited editions of just 60 pieces each. Embodying the essence of true commemoration – all the life of the present, rooted in history – it links Louis Moinet’s heritage with the creative vision of the Ateliers that today honour his memory.
The inner workings of Memoris
The new caliber on Memoris is the LM54. With a rhythm of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz), it has 302 components and provides a 48-hour power reserve. 147 have been designed and manufactured to allow the chronograph to be presented atop a dedicated movement plate, separating it from the automatic movement beneath.
“Energie Plus” is an ingenious, automatic pawl winding system featuring an elegant spring with a ‘crab claw’ design. Completing the system, a miniature ceramic ball bearing is mounted on the dual-material rotor. The advantage of “Energie Plus” is that it allows the piece to be wound up in both directions, with a minimum of excess travel. This optimizes each movement of the rotor, recovering its energy, and winding the movement more effectively.
In the finest prestige watch-making tradition, the swivel of the yoke is aligned along the same axis as the second wheel to improve the engagement of the latter’s moving parts. This arrangement provides the best possible distance between the second wheel and the clutch wheel, for every stage of the chronograph function: start, stop and reset.