Louis Moinet releases the new 20-Second Tempograph, a self-winding mechanical timepiece with a twist. Founded in Saint-Blaise, Neuchâtel, in 2004. The fully-independent firm was established to honour the memory of Louis Moinet (1768-1853): master watchmaker, certified inventor of the chronograph (1816), and pioneer in the use of very high frequencies (216,000 vibrations per hour). While the watch looks unique in its own right, with a not so common ‘complication’, it is prudent to note that it is entering a market that is steadily being saturated with 3D dial movements, or semi-skeleton dial watches. Some of which includes the famous La Tradition by Breguet to the more exclusive Greubel Forsey. Even entry level brands such as Maurice Lacroix have also developed their own rendition of the miniature time dial and open work timepiece. Nonetheless, while we acknowledge that competition is stiff in this regard, the Louis Moinet Tempograph does offer some interesting features, so let us take a closer look.
Developed by Ateliers Louis Moinet in collaboration with Concepto, the Tempograph features an elaborate dial that showcases a twenty-second retrograde mechanism. While not intuitively a function that does anything, objectively speaking, it is still pretty fun to watch the lively retrograde hand that jumps back to the zero position after every 20 seconds. Additionally, there is a seconds display at 9 o’clock, a tricolour openwork disc, in white, grey and black that segments the minute in 20 second intervals. While the 2 above named features are cosmetic to say the least, these moving parts are fun to watch and bring live to the dial. Keeping with the spirit of open-work watches, the hour dial at four o’clock makes up only 20 percent of the total dial size, with the majority of the space given to automations and decorations. That said, the hour dial is beautifully finished in polished lacquer, with a dome shaped surface. The dial also features the classical railroad markers and roman numeral hour markers.
The caliber LM39 is jointly developed by Louis Moinet and Concepto. Armed with over 260 parts, the retrograde movement beats at 4 Hz and yields approximately 48 hours power reserve. Interesting to note, the movement is created as a single piece, rather than the usual modular movement types seen on other watches. While modular movements are popular for their easy servicing, and modifications, singular movements are known to be costlier to produce with the notion of being ‘unique’ and ‘customized’ to the watch. Additionally, single integrated movements are also known to provide better technical coherence.
On the back, the 20-Second Tempograph sports a adequately finished movement, which bears the circular Côtes de Genève pattern on the lower plates. According to Jean-Marie Schaller, Louis Moinet CEO and Creative Director, the automatic caliber was developed from scratch, which enabled Louis Moinet to develop unique features on the dial. For instance, the spiral shaped retrograde cam at 8 o’clock which shows off the mechanical automation of the retrograde complication. The movement uses a pawl-lever winding mechanism, with the rotor mounted on ceramic ball bearings. This reduction in friction from the use of ceramic ball bearings maximizes the effective wind of the automatic movement.
Three series of watches will be produced: the first two in pink gold and white gold – 60 of each at a price of CHF 44,000 each. The third series of 365 watches will be produced in titanium, at a price of CHF 22,000.
Overall, the package is rather interesting, with lots going on dial-side, and the case back showing a more modest, rather more traditional look. The finishing is quite good, especially on the dial side. Although the design elements and divers finishing modes may border on being a bit showy. But yet, the entire watch, perhaps due to the action going on dial side, retains an attractiveness which is beguiling and mesmerising to the eye. Perhaps a playful and fun take at the serious business of watchmaking.
Louis Moinet 20 seconds Tempograph Specifications
Features and functions
Hours & Minutes
20-second retrograde mechanism
Dial & Hands
Luminous “Gouttes de Rosée”® (dewdrop) hands, blued steel
Domed lacquered dial, diamond-polished decorative filet
Inner bezel ring adorned with guilloché “Clou de Paris” hobnail motif
Movement and finishing
Calibre LM39 developed and manufacture-made by Louis Moinet and Concepto
Oscillations: 28,800 vph (8 V/S, 8 vibrations per second)
Frequency: 4 Hz
Lines: 14 ½
Power reserve: 48 hours at maximum wind
Rotor : Pawl-lever winding mechanism
Mounted on a high-tech ceramic ball bearing
Decoration: Circular Côtes de Genève pattern, featuring diamond-cut chamfers and circular satin-finish gears with a 5N gold-toned finish
Case and strap
Case: Original Louis Moinet® design featuring six-screw bezel
Materials: Grade 5 titanium with polished and matt finishing
Diameter: 43.50 mm (titanium) ; 44 mm (18K gold)
Thickness: 15.60 mm (titanium) ; 16.10 mm (18K gold)
Water resistance: 50 metres
Case-back: Equipped with 7 screws, engraved with individual number and Louis Moinet symbols
Crystals: Two sapphire crystals with anti-glare treatment on both sides
Crown guard: Patent pending
Width between lugs: 24mm
Strap: Hand-sewn Louisiana alligator leather with alligator leather lining
Buckle: Double folding clasp in 316L stainless steel
Pin buckle in 18K gold
Louis Moinet book, hand-written guarantee
LM-39.20.80 365 watches Grade 5 titanium
LM-39.50.80 60 watches 5N 18K rose gold
LM-39.70.80 60 watches 18K white gold