Louis Moinet Transcontinental

The Louis Moinet name is synonymous with creativity. This reputation is maintained with the advent of a new watch that references a significant episode in American history.

The Louis Moinet Transcontinental embraces an interesting marketing strategy first employed by Breguet in the late 18th century, namely the ‘souscription’ watch. 

Louis Moinet Transcontinental

I have always marvelled at the creativity of Jean-Marie Schaller, the CEO and Creative Director of Louis Moinet. Over the years he has conceived extraordinary watches, rich in ingenuity. These have included timepieces with dials made of dinosaur bone, dynamic depictions of oil derricks and fossilised palm wood.

Louis Moinet Geograph Rainforest Palm wood

Creativity is at the heart of the Louis Moinet paradigm. For example, Monsieur Moinet invented the chronograph in 1816 (certified by Guinness World Records). Schaller has a profound love of space, manifest with the design of several models. In some instances, these pay tribute to astronauts and sometimes even incorporate pieces of meteorite. The capacity to develop ideas is clearly alive and well at Les Ateliers Louis Moinet.

Recently, the brand has unveiled the Louis Moinet Transcontinental Railroad, a timepiece marking the 150 year anniversary of the first railroad spanning the US, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This particular milestone in history had a huge influence on the US economy and led to greater dispersion of the country’s population.

The dial

The dial looks radically different from its contemporaries. Indeed, nobody could ever accuse Schaller of plagiarism. The hours and minutes are expressed with blue Gouttes de rosée hands which contrast notably with the black and golden backdrop of the dial epidermis. Interestingly, there is an absence of indexes and no chapter ring.

Louis Moinet Transcontinental

At 6 o’clock, a star shaped wheel proclaims the seconds. It exudes style and, courtesy of three red-tipped arms and a 20-second track, conveys meaning with lucid efficiency.

Unusually, wheels and beams occupy much of the remaining dial area. They form part of an automaton which resembles the animated derrick found on some earlier Louis Moinet models. However, in this instance, the right hand side of the uppermost beam is driving a golden spike downwards. Back in 1869, the ‘Golden Spike’ was ‘driven’ by Leland Stanford at the ceremonial opening of the Transcontinental Railroad. It provided a fitting acknowledgement of the thousands of dog spikes driven into wooden sleepers by legions of construction workers.

Louis Moinet Black Gold Derrick

The Transcontinental Railroad was opened in 1869, a historical milestone which is referenced at noon. In addition, a golden spike dissects the date and is marked with the watch’s individual number. The dial is comprised of golden bridges, steadfastly retained with gleaming screws. Each dial element is framed in black, providing an eye-catching means of delineation and, thereby, augmenting ease of interpretation.

The case

The Louis Moinet Transcontinental Railroad is offered in a choice of two models, one in steel and 18-carat rose gold (limited to 69 pieces) and a second presented solely in 18-carat rose gold (limited to 18 watches). Interestingly, the bi-metallic option measures 43.2mm, while the 18-carat rose gold version is larger, with a diameter of 45.4mm.

Louis Moinet Transcontinental

While Schaller is not afraid of embracing new ideas, he also understands the importance of consistency, repeatedly endowing his watches with common design elements. This strategy heightens the recognition of the company’s models. For example, the six arm bezel affixed to the Louis Moinet Transcontinental Railroad, seen on other watches from the Swiss firm, reaffirms the brand’s identity.

Irrespective of the case material selected, the upper six arm bezel on the Louis Moinet Transcontinental Railroad sits upon a circlet of 18-carat rose gold. This stepped bezel design heightens the overall allure of the watch.

A few years ago, Louis Moinet unveiled its Metropolis model which first featured the company’s ‘Neo case’. This case incorporated beautiful openworked lugs and has since appeared on other Louis Moinet timepieces. The Louis Moinet Transcontinental Railroad incorporates the same lug design.

Louis Moinet Metropolis

The vertical flank of the crown is endowed with the Swiss marque’s Fleur de Lys emblem, a motif which also appears on the folding clasp affixed to the alligator strap.

The movement

The self-winding Caliber LM64 contains 248 parts including 28 jewels. The balance has a frequency of 28,800VpH (4Hz) and the power reserve is sufficient to deliver 48 hours of autonomy.

Closing remarks

Louis Moinet has chosen to employ an idea first seen in the 18th century. The ‘Souscription’ watch was the brainchild of Abraham-Louis Breguet. Customers would reserve a watch with a down payment. In this instance, both the bi-metallic and gold versions of the Transcontinental Railroad can be pre-ordered at a discounted price until the 10th September 2019. Thereafter, the price ‘will be higher’. Once again, Schaller and his team have differentiated the company’s overall offering by selecting a route few other brands have ventured to take.

The overall design of the Louis Moinet Transcontinental Railroad is, no doubt, the product of much deliberation. Every aesthetic element of the dial and case coalesce in harmonious union.

Louis Moinet Transcontinental

Arguably, despite having a plethora of attributes, the pièce de résistance is the automaton. This aspect confers a wonderful sense of theatre which is likely to evoke a smile whenever the wearer glances down at the dial.

A danger for anyone with a creative role is ‘drying up’. The prospect of not being able to conceive fresh ideas is a daunting prospect for those who wield a pen or pencil. Schaller has repeatedly shown a capacity to look to the heavens and deliver originality. To date, he does not seem to have suffered a creative drought, regularly demonstrating his mind is overflowing with ideas. Indeed, like many admirers of Louis Moinet, I cannot help wondering ‘what’s next?’

Exhibiting brand at The Watchmakers Club event 5th June 2019 –

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Louis Moinet Transcontinental
  • Case: 18-carat rose gold or 18-carat rose gold & steel; diameter 45.4mm (gold version) or 43.2mm (bi-metallic version); water resistance 5 ATM (50 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes, seconds and automaton
  • Movement: Calibre LM64automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 28 jewels; power reserve = 48 hours; 248 components
  • Strap: Alligator leather with 18-carat rose gold or 18-carat rose gold & steel folding clasp
  • Price – CHF 38,500 (RRP until 10.9. 2019) for 18-carat rose gold & steel)
  • Price – CHF 57,500 (RRP until 10.9. 2019) for 18-carat rose gold)
  • Limited Edition: 69 pieces (18-carat rose gold & steel) and 18 pieces (18-carat rose gold)

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