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10 things you didn’t know about Ateliers Louis Moinet

Ateliers Louis Moinet’s tenth anniversary is an opportunity for the firm to look back on ten key moments in their history – ranging from the best-known to the most unlikely.

1. The father of Watchmaking Treatises – The collection of watchmaking treatises comprises some thirty original volumes, including works from 1848, 1856 and 1870. It took Louis Moinet over twenty years to write his own Traité d’Horlogerie, a work of reference in his time – and to this day.

2. Each Ateliers Louis Moinet timepiece is engraved with four symbols depicting the pillars of the maison’s identity. One of them is the Fleur-de-lis: a reference to the coat-of-arms of Bourges, the town where Louis Moinet was born.

3. In a watchmaking world largely dominated by digitally controlled machines, Daniel Haas is like a living fossil. That’s because his job involves drilling through the extraordinary stones that have come down to us from the mists of time, slicing them into the thinnest of dials, and then piercing holes through them. Daniel Haas carries out all these operations by hand – and uses nothing more than his own instinct to gauge the right pressure to be applied to the fragile stone.

4. Louis Moinet had a motto, attributed to him in innumerable quotations of his words but never engraved on any watch he made: “Above all, do not stray from what is true.”

5.  Louis Moinet, the Leonardo da Vinci of watchmaking – Louis Moinet’s chronograph, produced in 1816, was revolutionary. It measures sixtieths of a second, whereas the watchmakers of his day usually managed only one fifth, or at best one tenth of a second. It features a reset, a function which was only patented 48 years later… and beats at a rhythm of 216,000 vibrations per hour, whereas today’s mechanical watches make do with 21,600 or 28,800 vibrations per hour. Until recently, it was thought that Jack Heuer, who achieved 360,000 vibrations per hour in 1916, was the pioneer of high frequency.

All this means that history has had to be rewritten twice over: Louis Moinet was indeed the inventor of the chronograph – and the father of high frequency!

6. Louis Moinet and Abraham-Louis Breguet were great friends. Their passion involved developing the watchmaking of the Enlightenment – in Paris, home to the greatest minds of their day. So as not to waste a single minute of the day, Louis Moinet lived inside Maison Breguet itself, at Quai de l’Horloge. Today, one is remembered as the inventor of the tourbillon, the other as the inventor of the chronograph.

7. Louis Moinet is probably the only brand to have worked on stromatolite. Famous for being the oldest fossil on the planet, stromatolite stone is over three billion years old. It consists of layered structures formed by the growth of green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and is one of the first traces of life on Earth. Today, red stromatolite has become very rare, and is found only in certain parts of the globe.

8. Louis Moinet was the author of a very large number of watchmaking theses, most of which are recorded in his Traité d’Horlogerie watchmaking treatise of 1848, now universally recognised as the most advanced body of knowledge of his day, and indeed more generally of the golden age of watchmaking. However, some aspects of his writings have yet to be recovered, assembled, and interpreted. The future probably has many more discoveries about Louis Moinet in store for us.

9. Geograph Rainforest – Each time one of these watches is sold, a contribution is made to the Pulau Banding Foundation in Malaysia. The foundation is working to preserve and enhance our knowledge of the Belum tropical rainforest, one of the oldest in the world.

10. Five Red Dot Awards – Louis Moinet is without doubt one of the only brands (and perhaps the only watchmaking brand) to have won five Red Dot Awards, including one coveted Best of the Best prize. The Red Dot is one of the most important design awards in the world, going only to the very best creations of our time. The Red Dot Design Museum, in Germany, is considered to be one of the major international references in this realm.