Louis Moinet, art in watchmaking

May 3, 2021By Bonetto Cinturini

Louis Moinet was one of the greatest watchmakers of all time; his inventiveness, passion and willingness to transmit his skills have contributed to watchmaking in a truly inestimable way. Today, this man’s spirit lives again thanks to Jean-Marie Schaller who, as founder and creative manager of the Louis Moinet brand, offers the public the possibility of getting to know the name of a watchmaker, a great master, but also a great inspirer. His passion for watchmaking took up all of Moinet’s time; he became a member of various academic and artistic societies, and collaborated with eminent artists. And this, over time, is what started the slow but progressive growth of a passion that simply became art. The current Louis Moinet brand returns to this prestigious past through innovative mechanisms. The goal of the Louis Moinet ateliers is to grow gradually and organically, and their offer is based on some fundamental columns: a rather sophisticated steel entry level line; a collection of pieces made of gold or other precious metals; a variety of exceptional luxury watches. In finding its own particular niche, with pieces that are characterised by the art of watchmaking but made more important by the brand’s esteem for chronometering, the Louis Moinet company hopes that its prominent identity will contribute to creating new designs. The models are part of the quality segment, in a framework of exceptional ornaments and decorations, the pieces are cared for in minimum detail, and quality is always the first important element of the whole manufacturing process. It is, in fact, this balance between a certain decorative opulence and chronometering rigour that can be found in the creations of the Louis Moinet ateliers. In terms of movement, most of the watches have vintage calibers, and even though re-interpreted and re-decorated, the mechanisms they offer are still truly original. This is the case, for example, of the ‘Twintech’ model, whose double barrel, with 120 hours of power reserve, was made following a design published by Louis Moinet in around the 19th century. These watches are like a canvas that tells of the greatest adventures. The dial, the casing, the movement, each element is part of a glorious story that has touched many lives. The last series of Louis Moinet watches, for example, pays homage to eight of the most incredible human conquests over the centuries. Saying that the results are spectacular is truly belittling. This time, the incredibly skilled craftsmen and women of the Louis Moinet team have created their version of incredible places in the world. The watches, made with the highest level of mastery/craftsmanship, are a ticket for a journey around the world that is full of discoveries and details. The inspiration for the eight marvels comes from the journeys made by Jean-Marie Schaller, the picturesque owner of Louis Moinet; he personally selected these areas of the world that represent artistic diversity and honour the different cultures of time. The canvases for these works of art are a set of eight watches: seven with a pink gold case and one with a white gold case. This initiatory journey involves a set of impressive, one-of-a-kind watches presented in a Louis Moinet travel trunk. Travel broadens the mind, but in this case it helps create many artistic homages that are very ornate and elaborate. The dials and cases of the eight watches are a canvas for the artistic decoration, while openings show the mechanisms in their hearts. Art masters have applied an impressive variety of traditional techniques, such as painting in miniature, hand etching, bas-relief etching, enamelling or gem encasing. Even original combinations of technique are used. While some of the results of the Race To The Moon series were impressive, this series of wonders moves one step forward, so time goes beyond, able to transport you to beautiful, characteristic places.

Watchmaking works of art that describe time and space

Going beyond the expectations of a basic watch

Today a new race for space is starting; humanity has returned to exploring the Moon, Mars, and beyond. During Watches & Wonders 2021, Louis Moinet presented a set of four unique watches with special mechanism to pay homage to four key episodes in the conquest of the Moon. The Swiss watch brand also presented Mecanograph in 2014, a limited edition of pink gold watches with a caliber developed by the brand in collaboration with other brands. What strikes the eye first about this model is the characteristic “double face” of the dial. Specialised in the production of unique or very limited series pieces, the brand, still mostly reserved, became important in designing watches made from natural materials, for example meteorite fragments, wood, petrified palm trees or the oldest fossil in the world. In addition, the Variograph model has unique and exclusive mechanisms and indicators, such as the first full moon indicator, which gives precise information about full moon days, and the world map which, with the addition of a small rotating globe, offers a simplified way of telling the time in every corner of the world. These works of watchmaking art describe time and space in all their complexity. A mission that becomes more sophisticated as the displays and mechanisms breach the established rules. Colour palette, alloys, materials…everything moves outside its comfort zone until it goes beyond the expectations of a basic watch.

The latest news in the watchmaking world

What the fashion brands are proposing

With watches designed as accessories or real jewels, the fashion brands today have crossed the watchmaking sector to land in new territories. Between the temptation of jewels, the search for neutrality, care for detail, but even the desire to amaze, the fashion brands dive into new fields of exploration that lead to numerous novelties in the watchmaking world. Companies are using various means, aesthetics, and words to conquer clients of all ages and genders, pushing them, with their ever-more innovative models, to not lag behind with tendencies and styles. There are, however, other important aspects that are not considered initially, such as innovation of the materials used in production, or movement and dial transparency. Watchmaking therefore discovers and establishes itself with a clean line, taking the sustainable and ecological initiatives to the edges of the possible. A mechanical part, a graphic component, the movement can all be seen through the dial, as can technical innovation that is visible even to the naked eye. In this way the design of these dials, the openwork movements and the highlighted mechanism further help transport observers to the inner, and not just the outside, field of watchmaking.

In terms of material, even silver is rebelling, after being considered precious, but not quite enough, for a long time. Silver has always been in competition with steel, which does, however, have the advantage of being stainless. Even the additions to the range of colours used in watchmaking no longer seems to have limits. After the base colours, in fact, the variations arrived. In 2021, dazzling happily coexists with pastel, making the display emerge fully. Many watchmakers then created surprising colour contrasts with the dials and the hands, using specific techniques to allow those who wear the watch to see the time even if light is scarce. Watches whose moving parts are visible have always been fascinating, making it possible to peek into the complexity of the movement. Apart from the dial design, what gives these timepieces that special touch is the passion that goes into making them. Watches are trendier than ever this year, with high technology material and demanding complications at the forefront of innovation.

The result of precision engineering, with re-invention as its goal, plays more even with the concept of light. Being less heavy is also another great advantage.

Over the years, watchmakers have issued a certain number of interactions, from timers and world chronographs to the tourbillon. What these new models have in common today are their elegant lines, their personalised bezels, and their great creativity, mixed together with a large amount of innovation and passion. In addition, some fashion brands equip their watches with a strap change system. This means that corresponding levels of beauty and functionality can be worn. No matter whether dazzling, an artisanal piece or with special details, these precious watches will become important on anyone’s wrist. And it is those who wear the watch who can decide to become a part of this story whenever they want.