A Guinness World Record for the chronograph? Believe it! This is not an insignificant title for Louis Moinet, in fact quite the opposite. While other Swiss watch brand’s might be too supercilious to go for such a certification, I’d say that life’s too short not to celebrate such an achievement! With their claim now also accepted by Guinness World Records (oh how I loved browsing their record books when I was a kid), it is then also official that this is the the 200th anniversary of the chronograph. Of course all this was already known many years ago when Jean-Marie Schaller, the the CEO of Louis Moinet (pictured above), beat out none other than the Patek Philippe Museum to acquire the legendary Louis Moinet Chronograph (seen below) at auction on May 20, 2012, for 65,000 Swiss Francs. But the Guinness certification does provide another feather in Louis Moinet’s cap!
The first chronograph, made in 1816 by Louis Moinet
The Louis Moinet chronograph was well ahead of its time for several reasons according to M. Schaller: 1) it was the most precise watch of its time, measuring down to 1/60th of a second (In 1820 the second best was only able to measure 1/5th of a second), 2) the chronograph was a pioneer in what we call “high frequency” movements as it operated at 216,000 vibrations per hour (it wasn’t until 100 years later that it was bested by Heuer who produced a 360,000 vibration per hour watch that measured 1/100th of a second), 3) the watch contained a immediate return to zero function that wasn’t actually patented until 1862 by someone else, and 4) the subdivision of the dials was very modern even by today’s standards, namely with separate dials for the hours, minutes, and seconds.
After the best part of six months of procedures and thorough investigations, Louis Moinet is especially proud to have become the official holder of the title of “First Chronograph”, awarded by the official Guinness World Records organisation.
In bestowing its Guinness World Records award, the worldwide authority brings further recognition of a fact already widely acknowledged in the world of watchmaking: the chronograph was first invented by Mr Louis Moinet in 1816, with his “Compteur de Tierces”.
We’re absolutely thrilled to have received this new honour in a very special year, in which we’re celebrating the bicentenary of the invention of the chronograph (1816-2016),” says Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO of Ateliers Louis Moinet. “The fact that Louis Moinet is the father of the chronograph – having invented it in 1816 – is beyond dispute, and well-known by lovers of fine watches. The title that’s now been awarded by the Guinness World Records organisation takes things to the next level. It opens up the way for greater public awareness of our firm, offering worldwide recognition that crosses borders and extends well beyond the world of fine watch connoisseurs.”
The Guinness World Records title that has just been awarded is the result of a detailed six-month investigation conducted by the organisation, calling for the provision of technical diagrams, historical proof, the written testimony of a large number of independent experts, and a whole host of photos and video material. All of these documents were submitted to the organisation’s own independent examination panel. Extensive discussions were required in order to confirm the authenticity of all the information submitted by Ateliers Louis Moinet, both to attest to the firm’s eligibility to claim the title, and to grant exclusive rights to its use.
“The substantial file of evidence we submitted was of course watertight; back in 2014, Louis Moinet’s Compteur de Tierces had already been unanimously recognised as the first chronograph in history by a select group of experts and historians,” explains Jean-Marie Schaller. “However, the Guinness World Records organisation is geared more to the general public, and as a result we had to review the entire submission from a different perspective in order to meet their criteria.”
The Ateliers have just celebrated the bicentenary of the invention of the chronograph at Neuchâtel Observatory. Memoris, the timepiece produced to honour this invention, has already found a place in the collections of many lovers of fine watches.
Three strictly limited editions have been created during this very special year. The first was unveiled in Geneva in January; the second, at Baselworld; the third, Memoris Red Eclipse, was unveiled at Neuchâtel Observatory and is currently shortlisted for the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.
“The mission of our Ateliers has always been closely tied to gaining recognition for Louis Moinet (1768-1853) and his essential contributions to watchmaking, and restoring him to the pantheon of great watchmakers. This Guinness World Records title is a decisive new step in that direction,” concludes Jean-Marie Schaller.
Congratulations to Jean-Marie Schaller and the entire team at Louis Moinet. I salute you!