“The whole idea of ASTRONEF is to go beyond boundaries”.
« The concept “8 Marvels of the World” has been very well received in the Middle East».
« We really look forward to taking part to Watches and Wonders 2022 ».
Excerpts from the interview with Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO and Creative Director - Louis Moinet.
LM have recently revealed the “Astronef” with a special sapphire case and a unique movement concept. What is the inspiration of this limited-edition watch and what are the challenges LM faced in constructing this complicated movement?
ASTRONEF propels us into the exclusive world of uncompromising modern watchmaking. It is heir to both ancestral know-how and an unyielding desire to create the design of tomorrow. Its character combines adrenaline and contemporary art.
Technical discussions started, and soon limitations emerged, because such a concept did not exist before and nobody knew how to make it work. « Can we do it? » « It will never work! » « It is much too complicated to be made … »
The only approach was to go step by step and the engineer first imagined how to hide the mechanism in the bottom of the case, being as flat as possible. The challenge was met, and the height limited to 3.75 mm for a twin barrel caliber. Room was made for the show, what was next?
… to convey the energy to the tourbillons. A high-tech central tower was imagined, with a total of 44 ceramic ball bearings and a few secrets in its sophisticated conception.
Tourbillon counterweights became spaceships, crafted in titanium and hand-finished. If their weight would exceed 0.5 grams the system would not work perfectly. The perfect balance was to be found in micrograms.
The construction of the “Astronef” as a very vibrant and powerful watch complication must have a message behind its revolutionary approach. What is the technical message that LM wanted to communicate behind this fine watch making achievement?
The whole idea of ASTRONEF is to go beyond boundaries and therefore create art in a powerful way. I find boring to look at a watch which doesn’t show its soul. A timepiece has to be in motion to engage in a relationship with its wearer. Therefore, the plan has been to make it move at a speed which is fast enough to be noticed, even if you look at your watch just for a few seconds.
Actually, this is the magic of ASTRONEF. They are six elements always in motion under your eyes: two satellite tourbillons rotating around the dial, as well as their two cages and their two counterweights.
Astronomy is at the heart of LM watch making. Do you intend to further expand this collection to be crowned with more precious material or meteorites?
Today Louis Moinet’s collections are based on two pillars: “Mechanical Wonders”, the best example being the MEMORIS. These are mechanical watches featuring something unique; they show something special, and they are visually different. The second product category is “Cosmic Art”. These are all mechanical watches too, but they encapsulate elements that have to do with the conquest of space. We started with meteorites; today, my meteorites collection exceeds 25 different types, such as Moon or Mars meteorites (one of the rarest) or Allende meteorite (oldest known material in the solar system). Meteorites remind me of the infinite universe, and our relationship with time. They all have a different story to tell us: some of them are older than the Earth itself, others contain amino-acids, the blocks of life … then we teamed up with the famous Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space. And now, we have introduced a collection of watches that include materials that have been on board spaceships. Materials that have been to or around the Moon, and which have travelled thousands of kilometres in space. These fragments are incorporated into watches.
In 2021, LM introduced the 8 marvels of the World as a timeless collection. How was this collection received in the Middle East and who is the lucky owner?
The concept “8 Marvels of the World” has been very well received in the Middle East. Our clients in the Middle East are looking for creative objects conveying a new emotion. I believe there is no point in reproducing what already exists. We need to be genuine, animated by an artisan and innovative soul, exactly like Mr. Moinet 200 years ago. A watch needs to have its own character, different from others. “8 Marvels of the World” is the perfect example. This concept is inspired by my personal travels and discoveries. It arouses curiosity, as each watch gives off a particular emotion. These “8 Marvels of the World” are representatives of artistic diversity and human cultures through time to create as many highly ornamented and elaborate artistic homages.
I personally selected "8 Marvels of the World" representatives of artistic diversity and human cultures through time to create as many highly ornamented and elaborate artistic homages.
The colourful Memoris collection has met with much love and respect in the markets. What is the inspiration and objectives of launching such a sporty and colourful collection?
MEMORIS LIFE has generated a lot of interest since its launch. Indeed this creation expresses the potential of mechanics while making no compromises on elegance. The design this contemporary chronograph is inspired by the world's first chronograph. Every detail evokes sportiness, elegance and exclusivity based on a unique mechanism stemming from state-of-the-art research. This creation also symbolises dynamism and modernity. The domed coloured dials endow with energy and vitality, striking a vivid contrast with the bright red hands ensuring perfect legibility.
Louis Moinet will be present at the Watches & Wonders 2022 for the first time. Can you give us a glimpse of your new collection and LM fine watch making directions?
We really look forward to taking part to Watches and Wonders 2022. Through our new collections, we want to perpetuate the watch culture by inventing new watches that have both the wow-factor and the innate Louis Moinet authenticity. Basically, we are looking for new emotions to share with our friends and clients.
Where is the world of lady’s watches within Louis Moinet? What’s your approach towards genderless watches?
With our new collections, we will now be able to offer two of the brand's major products – Memoris and Tempograph – in a unisex size. I believe it is very important that our products retain a strong DNA specific to Louis Moinet. In this way, we can address modern men and women in a coherent manner, while remaining true to our values.
Sustainability and responsible sourcing are now a common practice in our industry. How is LM applying these steps?
Louis Moinet is a family-run firm that only works with trusted and above all local partners. Given the company structure and in order to create high-quality products, we are honour-bound to cultivate close relationships with our partners and that implies knowing them extremely well.
As an independent watchmaker, you must have a daily challenge. What are the most challenges that an independent atelier is currently facing?
When I started, I think the biggest challenge was to survive. Now, this is more a matter of harmony and of balance. I hope our watches have a soul. This is essential to me. At the same time, I must be careful to avoid making mistakes in order not to jeopardise the future of the brand.
In the past years, LM has revealed several Bespoke pieces for acclaimed watch collectors in the Gulf Region. How important is this region for LM? And how does LM promote this kind of bespoke services in the region?
The Gulf Region is important for Louis Moinet. Our clients in this region are watch connoisseurs particularly interested in the historical aspect of our watches. They do not need to read the time on their watches. Creating emotion is therefore essential. We enrich everything we do with a human touch, personalizing our creations to produce unique pieces. At the end, many of our customers become our friends. Their passion is addictive, one of them for instance has already collected 35 Louis Moinet watches.