The names of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Yuri Gagarin are familiar to us all, men whose endeavours in outer space earned them terrestrial fame as legends – and even inspired watch collections. But there are other pioneers of space whose names are less known and deserve credit for their adventures, like Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. Louis Moinet, the brand whose founder is credited with inventing the chronograph, bring us two watches celebrating two epic exploits in Alexei Leonov’s career: the Louis Moinet SpaceWalker & Skylink.
The final frontier, the great unknown, is a recurring theme for Louis Moinet and watches with dials made from meteorite shrapnel, or decorated with planets, artistic nebula and other extra-terrestrial motifs are standard fare at this brand. It is fitting since Louis Moinet, the founder, was a revered astronomer in his own right. Seeking to pay tribute to Alexei Leonov, Louis Moinet has created two very special watches to commemorate two of Alexei’s most memorable exploits. This Russian cosmonaut was the first man to actually “walk” in space, back in 1965. Years before the Americans even set foot on the Moon, this humble Russian was the very first man to venture outside the confines of his space module for 12 minutes and 9 seconds during the Voskhod 2 Mission.
Following his historic spacewalk, Alexei Leonov was selected for a very special mission in the 1970s, during the height of the Cold War. The US and USSR space programmes came together, literally, when the Apollo and Soyuz space modules docked in space, separating the two rival superpowers by only a steel hatch. On 17 July 1975, the two craft docked and Alexei Leonov was greeted by American astronaut Thomas P. Stafford for the first international handshake in space.
Louis Moinet SpaceWalker
Louis Moinet has created two different watches to commemorate these two legendary moments in space history. The first is the Louis Moinet SpaceWalker, which comes in a large 47.4mm wide 18k white or rose gold case. Louis Moinet has never been about subtlety and the watches stray on the extravagant, more ornate side of the equator. The case is decorated with hand-engraved details throughout and houses the LM48 hand-wound movement. This movement features a large tourbillon escapement at 12 o’clock, with a diamond satellite to depict Alexei Leonov’s spacewalk outside the space module. The choice of a diamond is a logical one as the Russian word for diamond is “almaz”, which was also used as a codename for the two cosmonauts (Almaz-1 and Almaz-2). The tourbillon is set over an aventurine background, which becomes translucent when it comes in contact with light.
The case used for the SpaceWalker and the Skylink is done in typical Louis Moinet style, with ornate detailing throughout – even for the non-engraved pieces. The LM48 movement is developed with Tec-Ebauches. Exclusive to Louis Moinet, the manual-winding calibre with a 72-hour power reserve for the hours and minutes can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback. It is covered (partly, due to the cut-out for the tourbillon and the time indication at 6 o’clock) by a very artistic dial. It depicts a nebula, a collection of interstellar dust and gases, and an artistic interpretation of the starry heavens Alexei Leonov witnessed on his spacewalk.
Obviously a watch like this is limited, and in this case, the engraved white and rose gold Louis Moinet SpaceWalker is limited to 12 pieces in each metal, while the non-engraved version will be made in a run of 18 pieces.
- Case: 47.4mm diameter –18k white or rose gold case – optional hand-engraved decoration – sapphire crystal front and back – 50m water-resistance
- Dial: openworked dial – tourbillon cut-out at 12 o’clock – off-centred hours and minutes – cut-out hour markers– dewdrop hands in blue – aventurine backdrop for tourbillon – celestial nebula decoration – Alexei Leonov signature at 9 o’clock
- Movement: Calibre LM48 – proprietary movement – manual-winding – outsize satellite tourbillon escapement – 3Hz frequency – 72h power reserve – hours, minutes
- Strap: leather alligator strap – 24mm lug width – folding clasp in 18k white or rose gold
- Limitation: 12 pieces in white or rose gold with engraved cases – 18 pieces in white or rose gold with non-engraved cases
- Price: USD 189,960
Louis Moinet Skylink
The second timepiece dedicated to the Russian cosmonaut is the Louis Moinet Skylink. A slightly less complicated, though not necessarily less dramatic and appealing watch compared to the SpaceWalker, it is executed in typical Louis Moinet style and comes in either an 18k white or rose gold case as well as a steel case measuring 43.2mm in diameter. The case is similar in style to the Louis Moinet Metropolis we featured about a year ago.
The Louis Moinet Skylink pays tribute to the moment when the Apollo and the Soyuz modules met in space. To emphasise this monumental occasion, a micro-capsule is positioned at 3 o’clock. This micro-capsule contains material from the Kapton foil of the Apollo module and fibres of the Sokol-K spacesuit worn by Alexei Leonov on the Soyuz missions. It is finished with his signature on the capsule and a tiny rendition of the Apollo and Soyuz modules just beside it, connected by the name of the watch – Skylink.
The Louis Moinet Skylink is equipped with the automatic calibre LM45 calibre. Wound by a Louis Moinet decorated rotor, it can store up to 48 hours of power reserve. The movement is the same one that powers the Louis Moinet Metropolis, developed by Concepto but exclusive to the brand. Measuring 30.4mm in diameter, the movement’s dimensions fit perfectly into the large Skylink case and can be viewed through the sapphire caseback.
The docking of the two modules in space was a momentous occasion and was seen as a turning point between the two superpowers during the Cold War. Desperately seeking a way to halt the political tension generated by the Cold War, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was a symbol of the policy of détente pursued by the two superpowers and marked the end of the Space Race that had begun with the launch of the Sputnik in 1957. To commemorate this historic moment, Louis Moinet will produce this watch in 19 pieces for the white and rose gold versions and 75 for the steel.
- Case: 43.2mm diameter – sapphire crystal front and back – 18k white or rose gold or steel
- Dial: partially openworked dial – micro-capsule containing Kapton foil material & Sokol-K spacesuit fibres – celestial nebula decoration – elongated hour markers with Roman numerals at 12 and 6– dewdrop hands – 60-minute chapter ring
- Movement: Calibre LM45 – proprietary movement – automatic winding – 4Hz frequency – 48h power reserve – central hour, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock
- Strap: dark blue or black alligator strap – 22mm lug width – folding clasp in matching metal
- Limitation: 19 pieces in white or rose gold – 75 pieces in steel
- Price: USD 16,000 (in steel)
More information on LouisMoinet.com.