Louis Moinet, the historical 19th-century watchmaker, has been officially recognised as the creator of the world’s first high-frequency chronograph. Known as the ‘Compteur de Tierces’, this stopwatch – discovered in 2013 – was designed to time the passage of stars and could measure events to 1/60th of a second, complete with start, stop and reset functions beating at an impressive 216,000vph. As the President of the Chronometry Society of Paris, Moinet cultivated close ties and worked with the famous horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet from 1815-1823. The latest project to emerge from Les Ateliers Louis Moinet, the brand created by Jean-Marie Schaller in 2004, marries the leading innovations of the two historical watchmakers in one watch and flaunts a chronograph and a tourbillon on the dial. Catalogued in the brand’s Mechanical Wonders section, the Impulsion is true to the brand’s reputation for flamboyant mechanical displays.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the Compteur de Tierces that rewrote watchmaking history, Louis Moinet unveiled the whopping 46mm Memoris chronograph in 2016, with the movement proudly revealed on the dial. Appearing in more compact and less ornate versions over the years, recently the brand has released the more contemporary 40.7mm Memoris Spirit and even a customisable Time to Race version.
To house the double mechanical spectacle and accommodate the new movement, the Impulsion is presented in a custom-designed grade 5 titanium case. Combining resilience and lightness, the 42.50mm titanium case features hollowed-out lugs to reduce the weight further and is framed with 18k pink gold and a choice of Moinet blue or black accents. The piston-style pusher for the chronograph at 2 o’clock gives the watch a slight steampunk vibe.
The new Louis Moinet Impulsion model reveals two horizontally aligned sub-dials in the top half of the dial and the flying tourbillon in a large well at 6 o’clock. We managed to photograph all three models of the new Impulsion with their different colour schemes: the model with a black mainplate and black accents; a lively version with an orange mainplate and Moinet blue accents; and a third one with a sparkling aventurine mainplate and Moinet blue accents.
To ensure maximum viewing pleasure, the two sub-dials with 30-minutes elapsed times and running seconds feature their markings on smoky transparent sapphire discs. The bright red (yellow in the case of the orange mainplate model) central chronograph seconds hand – matching the two hands in the sub-dials – sweeps gracefully over the off-centred cage of the 60-second flying tourbillon when the pusher is activated and alights on the 3D peripheral track.
A curved sapphire crystal rises over the dial allowing close-up views of the movement exposing the column wheel and lateral clutch in pride of place at noon.
At the heart of the Impulsion is the calibre LM114, made in collaboration with partner Concepto. However, incorporating a tourbillon regulator into an already complex Memoris chronograph movement required significant innovations. Composed of 301 parts, many of the components had to be designed from scratch. One challenge was ensuring a sufficient supply of energy to power the two complications. This led to the replacement of the automatic winding system with a manual double-barrel winding system. Known as ‘volte-face’, the two barrels are arranged upside down in series and release their energy simultaneously, delivering a power reserve of 96 hours. Visible from the sapphire caseback, the base plate is decorated with circular Côtes de Genève and features cut-out areas to reveal parts of the movement.
Availability & Price
The Louis Moinet Impulsion is presented in three limited editions with alligator straps and folding clasps: 28 watches with a black mainplate, 28 with an aventurine mainplate, and 3 ‘Artist’s Proof’ models with blue and orange accents. The watch is priced at CHF 130,000 (before taxes). For information, please consult louismoinet.com.