Explainer: the new Louis Moinet Space Revolution

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We take a comprehensive first look at the new Louis Moiner Space Revolution. A watch which is currently a candidate at the category of “Tourbillon” at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) 2021.

Based on one to one discussions with Jean-Marie Schaller, owner and creative director of Louis Moinet, using press release photographs.

First look and explainer: the Louis Moinet Space Revolution

Retail price was set at CHF 360,000 before taxes on 23 Sept 2020. The official Louis Moinet website now has a POA button in place of a price quote.

Limited edition:

  • 2020 : 8 watches with deep black dial | 8 watches with aventurine & silver spaceships
  • 2021 : 8 watches with aventurine & golden spaceships

The basic idea is to build a flying orbital double tourbillon driven by a single gear train via a differential. But one which is intertwined with the fascination with space and interstellar travel.

The concept

The concept is to incorporate a movement with double orbital tourbillons with the spaceship idea. And to have the two spaceships battle it out, facing off 18 times every hour.

Space Revolution is art. The purpose of art is to bring of new vision of the world. At Louis Moinet, I am developing creations which can be identified as Mechanical Wonders and Cosmic Art. The first one focus on a pure technical soul, whereas the second one emphasize celestial functions, bodies as well as flown materials and cooperation with leading astronauts and cosmonauts. When I created Space Revolution, I wanted it to express cosmic art in the strongest possible way.

Jean-Marie Schaller, Owner and Creative Director, Louis Moinet

To do this the first tourbillon is placed on one end of an arm of a carriage pivoted at the center. On the other end of the arm, Louis Moinet place a spaceship, which acts as a counterweight. The second tourbillon is the same layout, but at a lower level. The upper carriage rotates in a clockwise manner, and makes one rotation every 5 minutes, while the lower carriage rotates in the opposite counter-clockwise direction, and makes one revolution every 10 minutes. Every 3 minutes and 20 seconds, the tourbillons and their spaceships pass over each other, facing off 18 times every hour.

As a result, 6 elements are in motion: two spaceships with their two satellite tourbillons rotating around the dial,
as well as the two tourbillon cages – each spinning on its own axis. The rotating elements are controlled from the center column which house the complex pinion arrangements. To make the mechanism even more complex, this rotational system of two oscillators is driven by a differential from a single gear train with double barrels.

Click here for an animation which shows this concept of the 6 rotating elements.

Click here to see an animation showing the levels of the mechanism.

The watch will be delivered as 8 piece uniques, each individualized with one of 8 different meteorite fragments used as a cap to cover the center column which bear the pinions of the mechanism.

The entire movement is encased in a sapphire box with a gold skeleton, so that light may enter from all angles, and the movement observed from any position.

The execution

The execution is in a case construction which is a sapphire container mounted on an 18k gold chassis. The case middle and lugs are open worked. The upper part of the movement is completely visible from the face of the watch. From here, the rotating circus of the two carriages with their tourbillons and spaceships, and two hands of the watch is visible over the backdrop of the night sky provided by the adventure main dial. Despite the number of moving elements on the dial, time readout is surprisingly legible. The hour and minute hands feature SuperLuminova infilling for visibility in the dark.

Though Louis Moinet does not use the term “Star Wars” to describe the watch, the overall vibe is one which evokes the famous franchise. Perhaps copyright prevents the adoption of the name.

At the base is a dial made of adventurine, a glass with gold flakes. The adventurine used is a 50 year sample of exceptional quality, supplied to Louis Moinet by David Haas. The original block is cut to slices, and polished by hand in 8 separate steps to prepare it to appear as the backdrop of stars for the starship battle.

Before we examine the movement, let us take a moment to look at the basic elements which make up the theme.

First, the tourbillon and their cages. The two tourbillons are the standard one minute flying tourbillon design, but each is mounted on one end of a satellite arm which itself rotates. This is the so called orbital flying tourbillon. The cage design is also rather unique. The tourbillon cage of the upper carriage is a geometric design of 3 arms, each a hexagon. The lower cage also has a basic 3 arm design, but each arm bears two or three further arms perpendicular to it. The shape reminds one of snowflakes. Each cage weighs only 0.24g.

The spaceships, being counter balances to the tourbillon is made of titanium, so that it matches the lightweight tourbillons on the other end. Each weighs no more than 0.5g. The spaceships have a gold colour, and one is given a black ceramic lacquer accent, the other a red ceramic lacquer. The use of color to differentiate the opposing forces is perhaps indicative of dark side and the light side of the Force.

The movement is reminiscent of the works created by Christophe Claret under the brand name Jean Dunand Orbital Tourbillon some 10 years ago. In that watch, Claret used the Cal. IO200 which is designed with a one minute tourbillon which rotates around the centre of the movement once every sixty minutes.

The Space Revolution takes the orbital tourbillon concept and makes a further development – taking the single tourbillon rotating around the center of the movement, to two such devices placed at different levels. It also greatly increased the orbital rotating speeds, making one make a full revolution in 5 minutes, and the other in 10 minutes. As well as to have the two orbital tourbillon systems rotate in different directions. This is a world premiere. As if that was not enough, the complexity jumps several more levels by combining this already very complicated idea with the Duality concept by Philippe Dufour. The two counter rotating arms that the tourbillons and spaceships are driven by a differential mechanism by a single main wheel train with double barrels. This entire spectacle is controlled from the central column, and appears to float over the adventurine dial.

As a result, the movement, the caliber LM104 becomes very complex (click to see an animation of all the moving parts in unison). It has over 470 components.

From the caseback, a sapphire glass aperture, in the shape of a crescent moon showcases the dual barrels and part of the wheel train. And next to it, a function selector toggles the keyless works from winding and time setting. This is switching system is similar to that used by Renaud et Papi in various watches, like the Richard Mille RM50-03, and also found in the Gronefeld One Hertz.

Louis Moinet claims that the mechanism is more accurate than a tourbillon, as the two oscillators are driven by a differential gear system at two different directions and different rotation speeds. This stems to be a reasonable claim, but no measurement data is offered as to demonstrate.

Some interesting curiosities are also implemented in the design. For example, instead of minute markers, an outer track marked from 0 to 990 is engraved on what might be called a rehaut sitting on the inner side of the sapphire upper dome. This is marked as a tachymeter of sorts, measuring the distance traveled by light during the elapsed time. The unit is in millions of kilometers. For example, in place of the 5 minute marker, Louis Moinet placed the red Arabic numeral 90,, which stands for the approximately 90 million kilometers that light has travelled in the 5 minute interval. Technically, in a vacuum, light would have travelled 89,937,737.4 km, but 90 million is close enough. The minute track is marked in this way till 60 light-minutes.

The presentation box is also original in its shape and execution. It comes looking like a sphere (Death Star in Star Wars? Again, our words not Louis Moinet), with the Dark Force space ship used as a closure fastener. Opening the sphere reveals the watch which presented in its cushion. The sphere is mounted on a pedestal.

Concluding thoughts

The Louis Moinet Space Revolution is perhaps a unique take on a very complex mechanism. The movement on its own, sans embellishment is worthy of consideration. Here is a highly technical double orbital tourbillon movement driven by a differential which is complicated, and fascinating. But Louis Moinet’s owner Jean-Marie Schaller has chosen to inject his own personality into the watch. The concept of battling spaceships and intergalactic travel provide a whimsical setting by which to set off this ultra complicated movement. As purists, perhaps, we think the cause might be better served without the Star Wars concept (again, a reminder our words to call it Star Wars, not Louis Moinet) and its accoutrements. A classical setting might better serve to highlight this amazing technical virtuosity. But perhaps it would not really be a Louis Moinet without the fancy theme. And so it comes to be. To us, the watch has a playful side. Whimsical. But we already said that. Or we can call it art. Let that or let that not detract from the fact that within, the complicated movement is admirable on its own. And at the end of the day, the Louis Moinet is all but an incredibly impressive work in watchmaking and art.

Louis Moinet Space Revolution Technical specifications

  • Reference: LM-104.50.50
  • Case: 18-carat rose gold case (diameter 43.5mm) / sapphire case (41.6mm); water resistance 1ATM (10 metres); sapphire crystal to front; sapphire caseback.
  • Functions: hours; minutes
  • Movement: Caliber LM104; hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 56 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
  • Strap: Alligator leather strap paired with an 18-carat rose gold folding clasp.
  • Limited Edition: 8 pieces

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