Memoris by Louis Moinet: a review before a potential award
After its first appearance at Baselworld, the watch is back in the spotlight for its nomination in the "Chronograph" category of the "Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève" 2015. Remembering the Memoris was a true delight.
One of the versions of this Louis Moinet Chronograph-Watch, which was produced in three 60-piece numbered series (one in pink gold and two in white gold), is currently travelling around the world on the "Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève" (GPHG) world tour. It will hit the stage of the "Théâtre de Genève" on October 29, where it may as well be proclaimed the winner of the “Chronograph” award it is competing for with five other brands.
Our whole editorial team fell under the spell of this genuine Chronograph. It was a first for watches that measure intermediate times: the chronograph was at the center of the dial while the hour and minute indicators were relegated to a simple timer placed at 6 o'clock. The dial stands out thanks to it cream-colored enameled back. In short, this is a little watch that has been subtly fitted into a timepiece. Indeed, it is almost as if the watch was doomed to be forgotten since the caliber's hypnotizing architecture does nothing but emphasize the chronographic timers and the mechanical elements that allow them to work. Thus, Louis Moinet introduced the appellation "Chronograph-Watch" in order to underline the differences between this piece and all other watches equipped with a chronograph, either as a modular addition or as a part included in the movement’s design.
Testing the Memoris on my own wrist
I wanted this Memoris and I had it. The test lasted for a few days, during which I familiarized myself with the technical aspects of the movement. As soon as I took it in my hands, the fact that the dial featured a column wheel, levers, cams, coupling, other wheels, and all other attributes of a chronograph movement captivated me. While I was greeted with the familiar sight of its components' architecture, nothing could have ever prepared me for the unusual view of the micromechanical spectacle all chronograph functions offered on the dial. I had never seen anything like that before and I could not take my eyes off of it.
I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I activated the mechanism for the sole pleasure of contemplating the mechanical ballet which, up to that point, had been unimaginable of any “average” chronograph.
While the Monopusher is a reference to the past, it has also proven the best possible choice for this open-worked chronograph. This is because it exudes a more aesthetic aspect than a two-pusher mechanism, so much so as its cams are visible. The fact that the start, stop and reset functions are activated through only one pusher appears to be some sort of magical kinetics. The large skeletonization of the mechanism does not hinder the piece's readability at all, especially on the central sweep chronograph seconds. The non-chronographic minutes and hours are displayed on a subtle back at 6 o'clock. The successful and disruptive aesthetics is enhanced by the beauty of the mix of finishes and the blend of materials. It gives a sudden feeling that the piece is in synch with its time; that it is resolutely contemporary. In any case, the Memoris is as appealing to those who want to have it and to those who actually wear it. To that, I am sure, can attest those who turned green with envy to see it on my wrist.
Benefits of the “Energie Plus” system
Concerning technics, everything was designed to put the chronograph in the spotlight. Thus, the separation of the 147 components related to its functioning and the 155 components used for the caliber, the self-winding part of which is under the plate. The technical prowess of its all-functions single pusher has already made the headlines before but it is a subtlety that deserves our attention. The “Energie Plus” is a clever winding system that improves the performance of the movement's winding by approximately 30% compared to that of an identical caliber that does not use the system.
Such optimization was made possible thanks to an eccentric plate equipped with two lever-pawls that allow the piece to be wound in both directions, and with minimum excess travel of the oscillating mass. The whole is coordinated by a spring in the shape of a "crab claw" and driven by a miniature, 0.397-mm in diameter ceramic ball bearing. Note that whilst ceramic is light, it does have high intensity mass as well as proven auto-lubricating capacities.
The “Energie Plus” technology is no doubt behind Louis Moinet’s success in being awarded at the 2013 “Concours de Chronométrie”, a bi-annual competition whose only criteria is also the most indisputable: objective and measurable precision.
All things considered, there is a coherent logic behind Louis Moinet's wish to revisit this chronograph. After all, it was Louis Moinet, who was Breguet's contemporary though 20 years younger, a discreet and multidisciplinary erudite who invented the chronograph. Remember that in 1816, approximately 200 years ago and around 10 years before the date recorded in history as the invention of the chronograph, this brilliant watchmaker invented a stunning instrument called the "Compteur de tierce". The piece possessed all the contemporary characteristics of a chronograph; it was, in short, an incredible chronograph that was produced one decade before the word was even invented. Only, its appearance was closer to that of a much more rustic object invented by Nicolas Rieussec (1781-1852 or 1866) - a watchmaker from Toulouse who worked in Paris. Yet, Moinet’s piece did not examine stars and sidereal times but measured intermediate times in horse races. Besides, the inked inscription "chronos” (time) and "graphe" (writing) attests to this.
In March 2013, scientific proof provided by a body of expert historians led to history being modified to declare Louis Moinet the inventor of the chronograph whilst Rieussec's invention became the first inking chronograph. After only 10 years of existence (the actual time lapse between the two inventions), the brand created by Jean-Marie Schaller paid a most prestigious tribute to the watchmaker whose memory it has preserved. Indeed, it gave Moinet’s creative genius its rightful place in universal knowledge to the extent that it even forced Wikipedia to be updated.