Louis Moinet Reaches For The Stars With The Space Revolution
The Saint-Blaise-based brand is hoping its remarkable flying satellite double tourbillon timepiece, the Space Revolution, can claim glory at next month’s GPHG.
The Oscars of watchmaking, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), are nearly upon us again, and the red carpet, prize-giving ceremony at Geneva’s Théâtre du Léman on November 4th looks set to be another memorable evening. No fewer than 84 watches are nominated across 14 categories, with a winner to be announced for each category, in addition to the standalone top prize, the Aiguille d’Or.
Fighting it out for the tourbillon award are three big players and three independents: Audemars Piguet’s Code 11.59 Self-Winding Flying Tourbillon Chronograph; Girard-Perregaux’s Tourbillon with Three Flying Bridges – Aston Martin Edition; IWC’s Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon "IWC Racing" Edition; De Bethune’s DB Kind of Two Tourbillon; ArtyA’s Purity Tourbillon; and Louis Moinet’s Space Revolution.
While each of these entries has its merits, it is fair to say that if the tourbillon category were an interstellar contest, Louis Moinet’s Space Revolution would be walking – or flying – away with the prize.
Out of this World
The Space Revolution features a special, flying satellite double tourbillon mechanism that, beyond improving the timekeeping accuracy of the watch, forms the basis of a spectacular, intergalactic showdown that unfolds over the celestially inspired dial each hour.
Disguised as snowflake-shaped space stations, the two tourbillons attach to an axis on the center of the dial, with each tourbillon counterbalanced on the opposite side by a tiny spaceship. While one spaceship flies fast in a clockwise direction, the other cruises more slowly in a counterclockwise direction, and at a lower altitude.
The differing heights, speeds, and directions mean the two spaceships cross paths no fewer than 18 times every hour, creating a mesmerizing series of cosmic faceoffs, to which the central hour-minute indication plays second fiddle.
It was Louis Moinet CEO and Creative Director, Jean-Marie Schaller, who had the idea for the Space Revolution’s innovative mechanism, which required over three years of research. The project was so complex that after one year of working on it, the research team wondered if it could be successfully completed. In the end, Schaller and the Louis Moinet team actually pulled it off.
Differential Gear System
Both tourbillons take 60 seconds to make a clockwise rotation on their own axes, with a differential gear system employed to provide the average rate of the two escapements for improved timekeeping precision. Balancing them out across the dial are the two gilded spaceships, each made of titanium – weighing just one-half of a gram each – and hand-finished and colored using a hybrid ceramic coating.
While the spaceship corresponding to the upper tourbillon takes five minutes to revolve clockwise around the dial, the spaceship corresponding to the lower tourbillion takes 10 minutes to complete such a revolution. The dial itself is crafted from black aventurine for a sky-at-night effect, and in the center is a system of six ceramic ball bearings enabling the stable rotation of all the revolving elements.
Transparency and Light
The design of the 43.5mm case – a sapphire cylinder housed in an open-worked 18K gold caseband with lugs – allows for generous, well-lit views of the action and animation within, which may conjure images of a clash between Star Wars’ Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire.
But, rather than Star Wars, it is the stargazing exploits of the watchmaker, Louis Moinet, that inspired Schaller and his team to pursue the creation of this space-themed timepiece, part of the brand’s Cosmic Art collection. Moinet famously used his Compteur de Tierces, the first-ever mechanical chronograph, in combination with his telescope, to time the passage of stars, planets, and planetary moons.
And, with so much action going on dial-side, it is easy to forget that the Space Revolution has a pretty interesting exhibition case back too, with the well-decorated manual-winding Calibre LM104 on display. The movement includes two skeletonized mainspring barrels that help provide 48 hours of power reserve. Also, on the back of the watch is a sizeable function selector that allows the user to toggle between winding and time-setting modes.
Unique Fragments of Meteorite
This Space Revolution, with its aventurine dial and gilded spaceships, will be made in eight pieces and priced at CHF 360,000. Each of the eight pieces is made unique by the ring of rare meteorite particles positioned beneath the hands, which differs in each piece.
With the brand consistently recognized through international awards and prizes over the past decade, Louis Moinet has still yet to win a prize at the GPHG, despite several nominations. But, Schaller feels the Space Revolution’s participation in this year’s tourbillon category might change that pattern.
Schaller says, “over the past ten years, Louis Moinet creations have won more than 40 of the world’s most prestigious awards, including two Guinness World Records, a UNESCO Award of Merit, and a Gold Medal in Chronometry. Space Revolution needed three full years of research before coming to life. This birth was celebrated with the prestigious “Middle East Best Technical Innovation Watch.” We hope that it will be as appreciated in Geneva next month as it was in Dubai!”