Less is more. These are words you wouldn’t necessarily attribute to Louis Moinet CEO Jean-Marie Schaller. You can find him in the dictionary under “exuberant”, but not just him. You will also find a reference to his watch creations. Since 2003 — the year Schaller founded Les Ateliers Louis Moinet SA — he has tried to stretch the definition of exuberant to its very limits. But now, come 2022, Schaller is downsizing a watch to create the opposite effect. The titanium Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit (LM-84.50.20) shrunk from 46mm to a moderate 40.7mm, but it outshines its bigger predecessor with ease. I recently enjoyed a rapid hands-on with this watch that will have a long-lasting effect on me.
How do you squeeze a 302-component movement that originally belongs in a roomy 46mm case into a cramped 40.7mm space without losing any of its micromechanical impact? That’s a tough one. But actually, Jean-Marie Schaller asked even more from his team. Not only did he want to shrink it, but he also paradoxically wanted to make a bigger impact with a smaller watch. And in the end, the people at Louis Moinet made it work. The Memoris Spirit is a relatively small watch that leaves a big impression — the kind you only get when a watch is greater than the sum of its parts.
The caliber Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit LM84 is a 4Hz automatic mono-pusher chronograph movement. It delivers 48 hours of power reserve and consists of 302 parts. Does that last three-digit number mean anything to you? Can you visualize 302 components? Is 302 really a lot? Just a look at the Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit instantly answers that question. Yes, 302 parts is a lot. And the way they are on display in the watch makes that overwhelmingly clear.
I have to give credit to not only the watchmakers at Louis Moinet for constructing a fabulous movement but also to designer Fabrice Gonet and case-making artisan Bertrand Crevoisier. Their ideas bring out the best in the caliber LM84, a movement developed together with Concepto that feels smooth and precise when you operate the large, stopwatch-style pusher at 2 o’clock. Light is the amplifier that brings the whole watch to life. The intensely domed crystal, with a flange that allows a bit of side action too, opens the watch to the light and thus to the eye. And what you see is a movement with traditional watchmaking shapes, elements, and parts that are beautifully finished.
The insides of the Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit exist for everyone to see and to capture the eye. But it’s the interaction with the dial elements and the case that really make this happen. The case and crystal have strong aerodynamic qualities. I wouldn’t call it sleek, but definitely streamlined and smooth. It’s even fluid when you look at the crown protection. The open-worked lugs, which show a satin-brushed curve on top, have a contemporary, even technical appearance.
The fact that Grade 5 titanium is the building material of choice also has something to do with that. It results in a case that weighs just 18 grams. Also, titanium looks more modern and technical than steel. But because of the shapes, finishing, and the other elements of the Memoris Spirt, the moderately sized chronograph smoothly navigates between styles. The superb-quality leather strap is nicely integrated into the case and closes with a solid folding clasp adorned with a Fleur de Lis. This setup combined with the lightweight construction of the case guarantees an excellent feel on the wrist.
Finally, we come around to the dial. The small yet legible and convex two-part dial displays its sunburst decoration as it sits at 6 o’clock. You can have it in either two shades of blue, in green, or in black/dark gray (that last one kind of depends on the light, as is common with sun-brushed dials). Matching the dial is a sunburst chronograph plate that lightens up the chronograph mechanism — levers, clutch, hammers, column wheel, springs, and wheels — and adds a splash of color. The sapphire sub-dials for the small seconds and minute counter are transparent. These seemingly floating registers play second fiddle, but they are still essential for the composition.
I was blown away by the insane creativity and technical ingenuity that led to Louis Moinet’s galactic Space Revolution. But even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t be able to wear it regularly — never mind the fact that a masterpiece like that is never anyone’s daily wearer. The titanium Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit , however, could be just that, thanks to its size, comfort, and looks. And just like the Space Revolution, this new chronograph leans heavily on the generous use of sapphire crystal to open itself to the beholder. The Space Revolution is a 3D mega-spectacle, whereas the Memoris Spirit is a more modest but equally captivating watchmaking story on a smaller stage. It’s a more intimate watch — stunning, yet not overwhelming. Each version is limited to 60 pieces with a price of CHF 29,500. Of the different versions of the titanium Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit available, the simplest one, without a colored dial and chronograph plate, is my favorite. The three red hands provide all the color I need to get hypnotized by the watch. What do you think? Blue to match your denim shirt? Or green to match the color of your eyes? And I’ve got another question for you — what about a warm orange color? I definitely can envision an orange titanium Louis Moinet Memoris Spirit.