Louis Moinet 200 years in 24 hours
Les Ateliers Louis Moinet chose the unique setting of the Neuchâtel Observatory to unveil the Memoris Red Eclipse and celebrate the bicentenary of the invention of the chronograph by Louis Moinet.
From midnight on Thursday 15 September to midnight on Friday 16th September, to coincide with one of the two lunar eclipses of 2016, the Louis Moinet team invited journalists and friends of the Neuchâtel Observatory to a special event billed as “200 years in 24 hours”. This exclusive programme provided a fun and unusual way for the independent watchmaker, which has its headquarters in Saint-Blaise, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the invention of the chronograph by Louis Moinet. During the course of the 24-hour event, which was broadcast live on Louis Moinet’s social media networks, stunning photographs were unveiled, providing an extraordinary insight into the birth of the chronograph and the life of its inventor, as well as the history of the Ateliers Louis Moinet, which was founded in 2004.
An extraordinary invention
In May 2012 Christie’s held an auction in Geneva. A timepiece that had remained hidden for a century and a half had resurfaced, proving that the renowned French clockmaker Louis Moinet had invented and produced the world’s first chronograph, some time between 1815 and 1816. Jean-Marie Schaller, co-founder and CEO of the Maison Louis Moinet, whose mission is to promote the heritage of its eponymous mentor, bought the precious object for CHF 50,000 (plus taxes and fees).
Originally designed to be used in tandem with an astronomical instrument, this “counter of thirds”, as Louis Moinet termed it (the word “chronograph” had not yet been invented), is exceptional not only for its ability to measure extremely short increments of time, but also for the astonishing way it does it. With a mechanism that runs at a frequency of 30 Hz or 216,000 vibrations per hour (compared with the 4 Hz / 28,000 vph of most modern watches) the chronograph precisely measures and displays one-sixtieth of a second increments on a central running seconds hand performing one revolution each second. This “thirds counter" also indicates chronograph minutes and seconds on two additional counters, as well as the hour on a 24-hour counter. The start, stop and reset functions are performed by two pushers. Interestingly, the zero reset function was also revolutionary, and was previously thought to have been invented by Adolphe Nicole in 1862.
Under the stars
But let’s get back to the present. On 16 September 2016, Louis Moinet invited us to observe the sky. Unfortunately, the cloudy conditions on Friday meant we weren’t able to witness the lunar eclipse. However, we did have the opportunity to discover the mysteries of the Neuchâtel Observatory, built in 1858 with the aim of promoting the development of precision watchmaking. It’s a highly symbolic place for Les Ateliers Louis Moinet; Louis Moinet himself was a passionate astronomer, and the night sky has become a source of inspiration for the company that now bears his name. This is clear from the Memoris Red Eclipse, which was officially launched during the “200 years in 24 hours” event. Shortlisted for the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the chronograph category, this timepiece, produced in a limited run of just 12, celebrates the 200th anniversary of the chronograph and pays tribute to Louis Moinet’s astronomical observations. The Red Eclipse advertises its celestial heritage with a red moon on the rotor, worked in gold-flecked enamel, as well as hand-engraved bridges and bezel.
Click on the image at the beginning of this article to browse the photos revealed at the Neuchâtel Observatory during the “200 years in 24 hours” event.
Photo credit: photos artistiques Louis Moinet
Ateliers Louis Moinet was born out of the passion of one man, and this is clearly to be seen in each of its creations. The Maison takes the concept of exclusivity to its height, producing only limited editions.Find out more
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