Traveling through time to bring the soul back to fine watchmaking are the new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ timepieces
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from the Watches & Wonders 2021. Before we get to dive deep into the releases and go hands-on with as many of these as the two of us here can, here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Has it ever happened to you that you have looked at pictures of a timepiece and ironically lost track of time marvelling at the beauty? This was my first impression when we received the press images for the new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection.
There is a quote that I read somewhere that left a lasting impression; it also happens to be true in the case of these impressive timepieces that will be presented in an equally impressive natural elm burr and adorned with a silver-coloured Fleur de Lys pattern Louis Moinet travel trunk: “Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams”.
The artistry and watchmaking skills that Louis Moinet brings to the table here are the beacon of hope that the modern watchmaking industry is capable of producing objects of desire that are beyond the endless sinkhole being filled with dive watches and fauxtina. The new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection from Watches & Wonders 2021 rises like a phoenix from the ashes of dreams (of watch enthusiasts and collectors) that slowly are being shattered by the advent of a plethora of otherwise unimaginative watches.
As the name of the collection suggests, there are eight different watches being released, all inspired by different wonders of the world. And all of these are simply mesmerising.
True, I am only going off press renders, but damn it, if this ain’t exceptional horology, then nothing is. And not only are these excellent interpretations of the man-made wonders of the world in their aesthetically pleasing avatars, but the presence of the award-winning — Gold Medal at the last International Chronometry Competition — 60-second tourbillon at 6’o clock adds that final touch of horological excellence.
Out of all of these, my favourite has to be the Taj Mahal version. While all of these include beautiful hand-engraved dials, the presence of the polished and rhodium-plated grid that is affixed to the dial, adorned with ornamental motifs reminiscent of the moucharabieh windows found in traditional Indian-Mughal architecture, brings a great deal of realistic depth effect to the dial.
On the whole, it is the presence of different engravings on the bezels and the attention to detail — whether be it present in the Colosseum steps, the ribbed domes and half-domes of the Blue Mosque, or the distinctive fresco painting of Petra — that wins my heart and hopefully of other watch enthusiasts and collectors as well.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
These new watches are best suited for those who wish to take the road less travelled; it’s for those connoisseurs who appreciate fine watchmaking when they see it; it’s for those who would like to carry the wonders of the world on their wrist.
What is common between the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu and Abraham-Louis Breguet? Answer: Louis Moinet.
Moinet was an advisor and fellow watchmaker to Breguet and the names of the above wonders of the world are part of the stunning timepieces the Louis Moinet brand is releasing this year under the banner ‘8 Marvels of the World’.
Jean-Marie Schaller is the founder and creative director of the Louis Moinet brand that had a resurrection in 2001.
Over the course of the last two decades and various accolades later — Memoris Titanium winner of 2020 Red Dot Design Award, The Mars Collection wins the 2019 Good Design Award, Mobilis is pre-selected for 2017 GPHG, and many more — under Schaller’s direction, like a phoenix the brand has soared to new heights of horological prowess and has helped forward the name and amazing craftsmanship of one of the greatest watchmakers of all time, Louis Moinet, the inventor of the chronograph.
The eponymous brand was originally established way back in 1806, and just like Swatch Groups’s Breguet revival in the 1980s and Richemont’s A. Lange & Sohne revival in 1990, Louis Moinet minds itself in the distinctive position of carrying on legendary watchmaking into the modern day.
Cut to the present day, and Jean-Marie Schaller is presenting the “personally selected” ‘8 Marvels of the World’ that are “representative of artistic diversity and testifying to human cultures through time”.
The new official Wonders of the World are; Great Wall of China, Chichén Itzá, Petra, Machu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer, Colosseum, and Taj Mahal. Louis Moinet removes the Chichén Itzá from the list and adds The Blue Mosque and Pyramid of Khufu.
The calibre LM35 is a mechanical manually-wound movement that comprises of 19-jewels, beats at a frequency of 3Hz, and provides an impressive 72-hour power reserve when fully wound. The movement is finished with circular Côtes de Genève and anglage. The movement is encased inside a 47mm diameter 18k gold case that is water-resistant to 30m (3 ATM). All watches come on an alligator leather strap with a folding clasp and 24mm interhorn lug spacing.
The Colosseum, Rome
Ever wondered what the Colosseum looked like in its heyday? The artisans recreate and reinterpret the glory with which the Colosseum once stood, all compacted for your wrist pleasure. The 18K rose gold case comprising of 112 engraved arches for the case middle and 90 for the bezel encompasses the striking dial that in its centre showcases the main arena in onyx, surrounded by a magnificent symmetrical array of colourful baguette-cut sapphires.
Favourite part about the art: the detailed and polished steps
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul
The calming blue undertones of the bottom layer of this dial inspired by the motifs of the vaulted ceiling that decorate the interior of the Mosque first catch your eye. This mother-of-pearl inlay consisting of 13 elements in different shades of blue sets the tone for the top layer that features the hand-engraved mosque. The hand-chased case with ornamental arabesque motifs harks to the beauty of Islamic art.
Favourite part about the art: the 6 finely chased minarets that accentuate the grooves of the domes
Three different techniques have been combined to showcase the beauty of these rock structures:
- bas-relief engraving applied on a slightly rounded base to give more volume to the motif
- the grisaille pictorial technique is applied that uses only shades of the same colour that ranges from light to dark that beautifully depict the red-brown Petra sandstone
- finally, the distinctive fresco painting is added to the top
Favourite part about the art: the hand-engraved lugs that are adorned with a bas-relief and depict columns and elephants
Pyramid of Khufu, Egypt
The pyramids of Giza are as mysterious as time itself. To be able to capture their essence is worth commending. Willow Creek Jasper, a natural stone whose design is reminiscent of the sand dunes of Egypt is used as the base material for the dial on which Hieroglyphics are applied. This is then topped by a pyramid made from gold that is covered with carefully calibrated grains of enamel. The case is hand-engraved using the ‘taille de joue’ technique depicting the lotus flowers adorning the tops (capitals) of Egyptian columns.
Favourite part about the art: the attention to detail and accuracy evident in the inclusion of the white colouring as an ode to the original Pyramid of Khufu being covered with white limestone facings
Taj Mahal, India
As I said earlier, this is my favourite out of the lot, especially since I have been to the actual monument in person. Come to think of it I have also visited the Colosseum but frankly, I find it to have more character as a ruin and would have preferred to see it being depicted as such. As an architect, this entire series of watches fascinate me, but the white marble mausoleum has got to be the most accurately captured in essence.
I appreciate how the dial base is white marble, given that the actual monument is a white marble mausoleum that was built in 1648 by the Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Besides getting the dimensions and the ‘feel’ of the Taj Mahal correct, another impressive feature is the turquoise part that evokes the water of one of the garden’s canals.
The case like the other variations is again hand-engraved with ornamental representations of the Taj Mahal and Indian mandala patterns, complemented by an engraving of a Mughal motif on the bezel.
Favourite part about the art: the polished and rhodium-plated grid giving the dial a realistic and three-dimensional effect
The Great Wall, China
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Wall of China that stretches over 6,200 kilometres is as impressive as it gets, especially when it comes to size and scale. The dragon theme runs large here, depicted on the dial and also on the case middle, bezel and lugs. The Great Wall is depicted by a hand-engraved rose gold appliqué, the bright green shine of the maw-sit-sit jade stone lends itself wonderfully to illuminating the path of the dragons, and the background sparkles with 129 brilliant-cut sapphires and 11 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Favourite part about the art: the design interpretation where the artisans transform the wall into a fascinating dragon
Christ The Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
The hand-engraved statue rises on a gold base and stands out majestically from the landscape with a relief appliqué. Next to it is the hand-engraved and then enamelled in the translucent azure blue depiction of the waters, while the mountains are glazed in opaque Grand Feu enamel. As if this wasn’t enough, recalling the attention to detail, multicoloured buildings of the town are depicted in champlevé technique enamel micro-painting.
Favourite part about the art: the case features a skilful reinterpretation of the decorative elements of the Brazilian coat of arms: coffee and tobacco leaves
Machu Picchu, Peru
The main site of Machu Picchu is represented by a golden city at the foot of two marvellous mountains cut and carved with great finesse from a Yowah Nut opal. A hand-engraved golden sun shines above the creation while respecting the iconographic representation of the Incas. Most fabulously, four Andean condors are engraved and painted by hand on a backdrop of a deep blue sky crafted using a micro-painting technique.
Favourite part about the art: the hummingbird and the condor from the Nazca Geoglyphs depicted on the hand-engraved case and the green lacquered terraces depicting their distinctive farming system
A snippet from the press release reveals why these were chosen:
“Jean-Marie Schaller has revelled in discovering an array of monuments as varied as they are powerful, each playing a role in composing the tapestry of human genius”
Yes, and no. True, hand-engraved watches with tourbillons are not uncommon. A range of brands dabble in these, and few examples that come to mind (in no particular order) are:
- Glashütte Original PanoLunar Tourbillon Limited Edition
- Louis Moinet ‘Only Mexico’
- F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain with Hand-Engraved Régence Dial
- Richard Mille RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman
- Piaget Vibrant Plumage
- Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345
- Royal Blue Tourbillon by Ulysse Nardin
Watches like the Breguet Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 and the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367 need special mention, after all not only Breguet is the father of tourbillon but also both Louis Moinet and Breguet go way back.
When specifically looking at the Taj Mahal version of the new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection, it is a bit reminiscent of the Cartier Santos 100 Taj Mahal watch from 2009. This Gold Santos I believe was an Indian-market only limited edition release.
But I reckon no other brand has a homage to the wonders of the world collection in the scale of the Louis Moinet offerings.
The brand releasing slightly toned down sans tourbillon versions for people like me who can’t afford these but would love to add something similar to their collection.
That’s All Folks!
My interests besides watches include cinema, design and literature. Being an architect, this is one collection I am seriously in awe of. I remember last year when MB&F released a similar literature-inspired collection, the MB&F x Eddy Jaquet LMSE series of watches that were inspired by Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires series. I had been amazed by that too. I appreciate any brand that thinks outside the boxes and includes influences from other spheres of life into watchmaking.
“One of the ceaseless wonders of the world: The power of a smile,” said the prolific American entrepreneur Malcolm Stevenson Forbes.
The watchmaking brilliance of the new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ collection is so impressive that it ends up adding another wonder to their list, a smile for anyone lucky enough to own one.
To find out more about the new Louis Moinet ‘8 Marvels of the World’ Collection and other Louis Moinet watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © 2021 LES ATELIERS LOUIS MOINET. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.