Louis Moinet Mars
The Louis Moinet Mars and its sibling, the Louis Moinet Moon, perpetuate the Maison’s association with astronomy. The dial of the Mars-inspired watch replicates the planet’s surface and incorporates a capsule containing a genuine Mars meteorite fragment.
This detailed review of the Louis Moinet Mars includes images, specification details and pricing.
Louis Moinet Mars in 18-carat rose gold (limited to 12 pieces)
Louis Moinet (1768-1853) was born in Bourges, France. He had a passion for art and horology. He spent his formative years in Rome and, subsequently, Florence. Moinet studied architecture, painting and sculpture and thereafter, moved to Paris to assume the role of Professor of Fine Arts at the world renowned Louvre.
Surprisingly, despite spending much time on his artistic pursuits, Louis Moinet simultaneously studied watchmaking. He trained under a master watchmaker, regularly visiting Switzerland, always eager to acquire greater knowledge of horology.
During his time at the Louvre he socialised with other talented individuals from the fields of astronomy and automata. He met Breguet and Houriet and spent long periods in the Swiss watchmaking enclave of the Vallée de Joux.
Over the years, Louis Moinet created clocks for several prestigious clients, including Napoleon, King George IV, Tsar Alexander and Thomas Jefferson, to name but a few. In addition, his mechanical prowess led Moinet to make highly precise instruments for astronomical observation and maritime use.
Jean-Marie Schaller holding the Compteur de Tierces
The ‘Compteur de Tierces’ was invented in 1816 and was the world’s first chronograph (verified by the Guinness World Records). The balance within this highly precise chronograph had a frequency of 216,000 VpH (30Hz), a dizzying cadence seldom seen equalled today. Moinet created his ground-breaking chronograph to measure the passage of stars, planets and moons.
Today, the eponymous watch brand, Louis Moinet, is deftly managed by its CEO and Creative Director, Jean-Marie Schaller. With extensive experience working in the watch industry, a love of painting and a keen interest in astronomy, Schaller seems the ideal person to perpetuate Louis Moinet’s name.
Indeed, it is Schaller’s predilection for astronomy which has led to the creation of numerous space-themed timepieces, such as the Skylink and the Spacewalker. The Swiss firm has also produced several watches endowed with distinctive meteorite dials, reinforcing the company’s reputation for original design.
New for 2019
In January 2019, Louis Moinet unveiled two new out of this world creations, the ‘Moon’ and the ‘Mars’.
Louis Moinet Moon in 316L stainless steel
In his work, ‘Around the Moon’, Jules Verne articulated the notion of travelling to the moon. Surprisingly, despite writing his text 100 years prior Neil Armstrong’s first small step, Verne imagined a launch site in Florida and rockets splashing down in the sea after completing a lunar orbit.
The Louis Moinet Moon features a capsule at 3 o’clock containing a genuine lunar meteorite fragment. In addition, the brass dial incorporates a three dimensional depiction of the moon’s surface. The watch is presented in a case which mimics the appearance of the first edition of ‘Around the Moon’. The presentation case includes a punched section, resembling a lunar crater, containing a second fragment of lunar meteorite.
‘The Mars’ shares the same 43.2mm ‘Neo’ case design and incorporates an identical Calibre LM45 movement, save for the colour of the oscillating weight which echoes the copper hue of the dial. Where the Mars differs from its lunar-based sibling is with its dial design. The dial features an intricate texture, bestowing a stunning Martian vista. Personally, I prefer the rich tones of the Louis Moinet Mars and, to this end, I felt compelled to explore its composition in detail.
To set the context for the watch, Louis Moinet asks ‘Remember the theory that the Martians built canals on Mars as a means of irrigating their planet?’ Today, such an idea would attract derision, however, in the 19th century Percival Lowell (1855-1916) took the idea very seriously. While Lowell’s ideas would later prove to be incorrect, his scientific ability remains impressive. He attended Harvard University and founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff which ultimately discovered Pluto some 14 years after his death.
Italian Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910) thought the dark marks he had observed on the surface of Mars were a series of lakes and canals. These beliefs formed the basis of Lowell’s work.
The dial of the Louis Moinet Mars faithfully depicts the surface of Mars, including its legendary volcanoes. In order to create this Martian landscape, the brass dial has ‘undergone expert craftsmanship’. I am unsure exactly what Louis Moinet means with this description, however, its reticence to elaborate is hardly surprising. Over the years, the Swiss watch company has conceived some very unusual and exclusive dial finishes e.g. ‘Magic Blue’. I suspect this is the reason for remaining tight-lipped about the method used for creating the lunar surface .
A capsule containing a genuine Mars meteorite fragment is positioned at 3 o’clock. Similar to the Louis Moinet Moon, the Mars model is presented in a case emulating the style of a leather-bound first edition. This presentation case incorporates a depiction of a Martian crater, containing a further fragment of meteorite in a sealed receptacle.
The hours and minutes are proclaimed with Gouettes de Rosée (dewdrop) hands, a style I have only ever seen on Louis Moinet timepieces. The hands exude notable style and lucidly articulate the time. The hour markers are ‘suspended in mid-air’, augmenting the allure of the dial vista.
A small seconds display is located at 9 o’clock. Between 8 o’clock and noon, the dial is openworked revealing the escape wheel, pallet lever and screwed balance. The Swiss firm has successfully enriched the dial with a myriad of layers, heightening the watch’s visual appeal.
The case construction of the Louis Moinet Mars is very complex. The stepped bezel is comprised of two elements, with the upper section affixed to the top of the main watch head using six screws.
All surfaces of the 43.2mm case are highly polished. The brand uses the term ‘Neo’ to describe the unusual case construction. Both sets of lugs, positioned adjacent 6 o’clock and noon, are joined with two bridge sections. The underside of the main watch head is held in place with six further screws, fitted to the caseback. This approach provides Louis Moinet with the freedom to play with the shape of the main watch head / caseband.
With the Louis Moinet Mars, the main watch head has curved sides which step away from the lugs, providing lateral spaces. This imbues the case with an elegant, almost delicate appearance.
On the curved flank adjacent 9 o’clock, the brand’s nomenclature is proclaimed in cursive text. The caseband features a pane of sapphire crystal affording views of the self-winding movement within.
The Louis Moinet Mars is equipped with an automatic movement, the Calibre LM45. While the Louis Moinet Moon and its sibling the Mars both share essentially the same movement, the Maison has chosen to incorporate a subtle point of differentiation. The Moon model features a blue oscillating weight decorated with a Clous de Paris stud finish, while the Mars model incorporates a copper-hued rotor.
Louis Moinet Moon
Measuring 30.4mm, the Calibre LM45 is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, diamond-polished facets and circular grained wheels. The mainplate is embellished with perlage and the bridges incorporate golden engraved symbols.
The screwed balance oscillates to a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 22 jewels. The power reserve is sufficient to deliver 48 hours of autonomous operation.
I suspect if Louis Moinet was alive today he would like Jean-Marie Schaller. Like Moinet, Schaller is an unassuming gentleman, sharing similar interests to his hero. Indeed, Schaller is an aesthete with an overriding passion for astronomy. The Louis Moinet Mars embodies everything Schaller holds dear.
The intricately textured dial surface, incorporating several Martian mountains, termed ‘Mons’ is incredible. The fragment of Mars meteorite represents another flourish of ingenuity.
Another key attribute of the Louis Moinet Mars relates to its Neo case. I have seen this housing on previous Louis Moinet models and yet, despite this familiarity, it still appears fresh and new. The open sections near the lugs and the curved caseband, juxtaposed with comparatively straight bridge sections, bestow a handsome appearance.
Man has always pondered, ‘Is there life on mars?’ I suspect the answer to this question will remain unanswered for some time to come. In the interim period, astronomy will continue to proffer enchantment and a stimulus to those with a capacity to dream, a talent very familiar to Jean-Marie Schaller.
- Model: Louis Moinet Mars
- Reference: LM-45.10.MA
- Case: 316L stainless steel; diameter 43.2mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
- Movement: Calibre LM45; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 22 jewels; power reserve 48 hours
- Strap: Brown alligator strap with steel folding clasp
- Price: CHF 15,000 (RRP as at 6.3.2019)
- Limited Edition: 60 pieces
- Also available in 18-carat rose gold, LM-45.50.MA, limited to 12 pieces – CHF 39,500 (6.3.2019)