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Louis Moinet: the world’s first ever chronograph

by Jonathan Fairfield
25 March, 2013
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About the author

Jonathan lives and works in Thailand as a writer and English Teacher. He is fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to watches, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and writes for a blog on the subject.

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So the setting was set, the world’s watch media gathered last Friday (March 21st 2013) at a press event held in Saint Blaise, Switzerland, the home of luxury watch maker Louis Moinet. CEO Jean-Marie Schaller assured the waiting hacks that the imminent announcement would be extra special. He didn’t disappoint.

As he began his speech by paying tribute to Moinet himself as one of the world’s greatest ever watch makers, what followed has all but rewritten watch making history.

At exactly 1pm, Schaller presented to the world what the Louis Moinet brand is calling the world’s first ever chronograph.

The high frequency pocket watch, officially known as the ‘compteur de tiercs’ (counter of thirds) was developed by the brand’s namesake in France in 1816.

 

This is hugely significant as until now, Nicolas Rieussec was credited with inventing the world’s first chronograph in 1822. Whereas Rieussec’s chronograph was more of a kind of ‘time writer’ which used drops of ink that were delicately dabbed onto rotating discs to record elapsed times, Louis Moinet’s chronograph is a genuine chronograph and corresponds more closely to today’s chronograph watches.

What’s more, the movement used in Moinet’s remarkable chronograph beats at an incredible 216,000 vibrations per hour, making it accurate to about 1/60th of a second. A frequency of this kind was not only unthinkable at the time when Moinet created the watch but it would be almost 100 years later until such a frequency would be seen again in watch making.

To put things into perspective – most of the mechanical watches you will find today beat at between 18,000 and 36,000vph.

In addition to its accuracy, it is believed that because Moinet had created the watch in order to help him with his astronomical observations, the mechanism is capable of running continuously for 24 hours, meaning that it in essence has a power reserve close to 30 hours.

In fact, the movement in Louis Moinet’s chronograph uses a fuse and chain system, which is a little similar to the Logical One from Romain Gauthier.

If you’ve got a spare 17 minutes, this superb video from the Louis Moinet brand contains some really interesting information on the watch and also offers up some footage of the timepiece in action.

 

Jonathan Fairfield | Website

Jonathan lives and works in Thailand as a writer and English Teacher. He is fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to watches, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and writes for a blog on the subject.

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