Louis Moinet (1768-1853) was born in Bourges, France. He had a passion for art and horology. He spent his formative years in Rome and, subsequently, Florence. Moinet studied architecture, painting and sculpture and thereafter, moved to Paris to assume the role of Professor of Fine Arts at the world renowned Louvre.
Surprisingly, despite spending much time on his artistic pursuits, Louis Moinet Mars simultaneously studied watchmaking. He trained under a master watchmaker, regularly visiting Switzerland, always eager to acquire greater knowledge of horology.
During his time at the Louvre he socialised with other talented individuals from the fields of astronomy and automata. He met Breguet and Houriet and spent long periods in the Swiss watchmaking enclave of the Vallée de Joux.
Over the years, Louis Moinet created clocks for several prestigious clients, including Napoleon, King George IV, Tsar Alexander and Thomas Jefferson, to name but a few. In addition, his mechanical prowess led Moinet to make highly precise instruments for astronomical observation and maritime use.
The ‘Compteur de Tierces’ was invented in 1816 and was the world’s first chronograph (verified by the Guinness World Records). The balance within this highly precise chronograph had a frequency of 216,000 VpH (30Hz), a dizzying cadence seldom seen equalled today. Moinet created his ground-breaking chronograph to measure the passage of stars, planets and moons.
Today, the eponymous watch brand, Louis Moinet Mars , is deftly managed by its CEO and Creative Director, Jean-Marie Schaller. With extensive experience working in the watch industry, a love of painting and a keen interest in astronomy, Schaller seems the ideal person to perpetuate Louis Moinet’s name.
Indeed, it is Schaller’s predilection for astronomy which has led to the creation of numerous space-themed timepieces, such as the Skylink and the Spacewalker. The Swiss firm has also produced several watches endowed with distinctive meteorite dials, reinforcing the company’s reputation for original design.
In his work, ‘Around the Moon’, Jules Verne articulated the notion of travelling to the moon. Surprisingly, despite writing his text 100 years prior Neil Armstrong’s first small step, Verne imagined a launch site in Florida and rockets splashing down in the sea after completing a lunar orbit.
The Louis Moinet Moon features a capsule at 3 o’clock containing a genuine lunar meteorite fragment. In addition, the brass dial incorporates a three dimensional depiction of the moon’s surface. The watch is presented in a case which mimics the appearance of the first edition of ‘Around the Moon’. The presentation case includes a punched section, resembling a lunar crater, containing a second fragment of lunar meteorite.
‘The Mars’ shares the same 43.2mm ‘Neo’ case design and incorporates an identical Calibre LM45 movement, save for the colour of the oscillating weight which echoes the copper hue of the dial. Where the Mars differs from its lunar-based sibling is with its dial design. The dial features an intricate texture, bestowing a stunning Martian vista. Personally, I prefer the rich tones of the Louis Moinet Mars and, to this end, I felt compelled to explore its composition in detail.
I suspect if Louis Moinet Mars was alive today he would like Jean-Marie Schaller. Like Moinet, Schaller is an unassuming gentleman, sharing similar interests to his hero. Indeed, Schaller is an aesthete with an overriding passion for astronomy. The Louis Moinet Mars embodies everything Schaller holds dear.
The intricately textured dial surface, incorporating several Martian mountains, termed ‘Mons’ is incredible. The fragment of Mars meteorite represents another flourish of ingenuity.
Another key attribute of the Louis Moinet Mars relates to its Neo case. I have seen this housing on previous Louis Moinet models and yet, despite this familiarity, it still appears fresh and new. The open sections near the lugs and the curved caseband, juxtaposed with comparatively straight bridge sections, bestow a handsome appearance.
Man has always pondered, ‘Is there life on mars?’ I suspect the answer to this question will remain unanswered for some time to come. In the interim period, astronomy will continue to proffer enchantment and a stimulus to those with a capacity to dream, a talent very familiar to Jean-Marie Schaller.