Louis Moinet celebrates 200 years of the invention of the chronograph with a new single button chronograph. We examine and deconstruct this watch, and give you our hands-on analysis of the Louis Moinet Memoris 200th Anniversary Chronograph .
In Baselworld 2022, we attended a private showing where Louis Moinet made the shocking announcement that their namesake is the inventor of the chronograph in 1816. Well, they made the claim the year before, but in 2014, they brought the actual watch into the little booth to show. We looked at the watch, saw it working but did not get the opportunity to examine it. Understandably, this is a very old piece, and its historical importance demands respect.
The Louis Moinet Memoris 200th Anniversary Chronograph watch, and claim pre-dates Nicholas Riussec’s clock of 1821, and Joseph-Taddius Winnerl’s watch of 1831 by quite a comfortable margin. And they showed a pocket watch, with some quite amazing features. Called the “compteur de tierces” by Moinet, it bears hallmarks on the case which indicates that work began in 1815 and was completed in 1816 by Louis Moinet, a contemporary to A. L. Breguet.
The chronograph is quite amazing not only for claim to the dates, but also in the features. The dial shows a 60 minute counter on the top left, and a 60 seconds counter on the top right, and a 24 hour counter at 6 o’clock. A long sweep hand makes one revolution each second with marks to measure up to 1/60th of a second takes center stage. The watch has two buttons for start/stop (at 12 o’clock) and reset (at 11 o’clock). Start/stop/reset was a novel idea in 1816.
Reportedly the power reserve is approximately 30 hours and the watch is equipped with a power reserve indicator. The movement runs at a rather incredible 216,000 bph. (In comparison, the Zenith El Primero, which is considered a high beat movement today runs at 36,000 bph). The power reserve is not tested in order to avoid damaging the movement.
The Louis Moinet brand was created by Jean-Marie Schaller who is CEO and Creative Director. Schaller bought the original Moinet chronograph in an auction (Christies Sale 1388, Lot 236 May 14, 2012) , and decided to revive the brand. The brand now operates out of St. Blaise in Switzerland. They currently have their own design and engineering team, but work with partners for the manufacture of the watches.
The Memoris is without a doubt a chronograph, even at first glance. The layout of the dial tells this in no uncertain manner. The hour and minute dial is reduced to a sub-dial at 6 o’clock, and the main real estate on the dial is occupied by the centrally mounted chronograph hand and two chronograph counters, with the top half showing the chronograph works in full view. The column wheel takes center stage and is situated at 12 o’clock.
We find the Louis Moinet Memoris 200th Anniversary Chronograph to be a bit of a conundrum. It tries very hard, wears its heart on its sleeves (turning the chronograph dial side to expose its innermost secrets). And we respect that.
The case is magnificent. Detailing abound. The aesthetics are like an old school meets new world. Kind of like the science fiction movies’ view of the future. Perhaps Steampunk is not the right description, but it is certainly a word which has come to mind. The amazing detail of attaching the bands to the lugs via zircons held in chatons by screws is a case in point. The execution is flawless. But the detailing has little practical value, and other than the kind of aesthetic it aims to communicate. And make no mistake. This is a beautiful timepiece. A magnificent effort by a small and very young company, the historical connection notwithstanding. And certainly, when viewed as a modern chronograph, we have little criticism, and can wholeheartedly recommend it to friends.