When digging into the history of watchmaking, it has been long admitted that the invention of the chronograph was credited to Nicolas Rieussec. Indeed, in 1822, he patented a clock that was able to write time, to record measures of elapsed time. It was, until recently, known as the first ever chronograph (a machine that writes time…). However, in 2013, another watch has been discovered, a watch manufactured in 1815-1816 and that was able to be stopped and to measure portions of time. This discover changed the perception of history, a watch known as the Louis Moinet Compteur de Tierces, the first stopwatch ever, and it now celebrates its 200th anniversary.
As we explained in our “Technical Perspective” article about chronographs, The Louis Moinet ‘compteur de tierces’ pocket watch was discovered in 2013 and is since considered to be the World’s first known ‘chronograph’. According to the markings on the case, it was made in 1815-1816. Designed to time the passage of stars, it measures events to the 60th of a second with start, stop and reset functions. To reach this precision, which was unrivalled at the time and for decades after, its balance wheel beats at an impressive 216,000 vibrations per hour. Mind you, the average ‘normal’ mechanical movement these days beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour. The central hand indicates the sixtieth of a second; the second, minutes and hours are recorded on separate subdials. Definitely lightyears ahead of its time, the Moinet creation was endowed with a start, stop and reset function.
Recently, the name Louis Moinet has been resurrected, with a new independent brand manufacturing high-end watches. Saying that they are proud of this “Compteur de Tierces” would be an understatement – and clearly, when you can say that you own the name of the inventor of the chronograph, you should be proud. In order to celebrate the 200th anniversary of this invention, Louis Moinet presents a new version of its dedicated timepiece, the Memoris, a chronograph of course. Don’t see the Memoris as a revival watch. It’s a modern watch, with modern design, modern technology, modern dimensions and style. It’s more a tribute to the chronograph, to the complication itself. The idea behind this Memoris is indeed to center the show on this function, and that’s the reason why the entire chronograph function has been shifted to the dial. This watch is almost only dedicated to this complication, even if, be reassured, it indicates time – but only as a side function.
What is the Louis Moinet Memoris? It is an integrated, automatic, inverted, mono-pusher chronograph with column-wheel. From this description, the deal seems rather interesting. Apart from the off-centered sub-dial for the hours and minutes (at 6 o’clock), the entire face of the Memoris is focused on the chronograph. Classically positioned at 3 and 9, two counters indicate the small second and the elapsed minutes. The chronograph seconds are traditionally positioned on the central axis. The beauty of this thing comes from the upper part of the dial, entirely opened, to reveal all the gears, levers and wheels that actuate the chronograph function. The column-wheel, sort of mechanical computer of a chronograph, what serves as a link between all the parts and what commands the activation, the pause or the reset of all the functions, is proudly placed at 12. The beauty comes when pushing the button at 2, as all the parts will enter into action.
The back of the watch, considering the integration of the chronograph on the front side, remains more traditional and looks like a “normal” movement. The entire movement is highly decorated and finished, with polished chamfers, Geneva stripes or perlage. AS said, the movement is automatic and integrated. The movement beats at a modern 4Hz frequency (and it’s funny to see that a modern frequency is that far from the ultra-innovative but 200 years old Compteur de Tierces…) with a 48-hour power reserve. The case, in 18k pink gold, measures 46mm. On this 200th anniversary edition, the dial is hand-painted in blue, with dew-drop hands, blue-tinted with luminous coating (which will reveal at night time).
The Louis Moinet Memoris 200th anniversary is a limited edition of 20 pieces. Price: 69,000 Swiss Francs.
Specifications of the Louis Moinet Memoris
- Case: 46mm diameter x 15.75mm height – 18k pink gold – sapphire crystal on front and back – 50m water resistant
- Movement: LM54 caliber, designed and manufactured by Louis Moinet – automatic – 48h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – hours, minutes, small seconds and chronograph
- Strap: alligator leather strap with gold pink buckle
- Swiss retail price: 69,000 CHF