Louis Moinet, The Inventor's Chronograph

The recent discovery of a hitherto unknown timepiece is rewriting the history of watch development. It turned out to be the first ever chronograph, although its maker, Louis Moinet, called it a “compteur de tierces.” According to hallmarks on the dust cover, the chronograph was started in 1815 and completed the following year.

Louis Moinet "Compteur de Tierces", First Chronograph ever!

This remarkable instrument of an entirely original design is evidently the work of a genius well ahead of his time. It measures events to the sixtieth of a second (known in those days as a “third” or tierce in French), indicated by a central hand. The elapsed seconds and minutes are recorded on separate subdials, and the hours on a 24-hour dial.

Louis Moinet, The Inventor's Chronograph on Video

The Louis Moinet History

Louis Moinet

Rewriting history

Louis Moinet or the first chronograph's history revisited

The piece historians today consider the first chronograph was actually called the compteur de tierces, or thirds counter, from an old term for one-sixtieth of a second. The day following its discovery, Wikipedia already corrected its copy on the chronograph.

by Joel Grandjean – History moves in strange ways. All it takes is one discovery to dispel certainties. The revelations made on March 21, 2013, at the Observatoire in Neuchâtel dismantled the story of the first chronograph. Jean-Marie Schaller, the brand's CEO, offered historical proof and expertises to support the notion that Louis Moinet was, in fact, the real inventor of the chronograph. This technically and aesthetically outstanding horological piece was signed by him and dated 1816, and that sent a shockwave through the entire industry. In fact, the day after, Wikipedia changed its definition: The first modern chronograph was invented by Louis Moinet in 1816, solely for working with astronomical equipment. It was Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec who developed the first marketed chronograph at the behest of King Louis XVIII in 1821.

Louis Moinet Compteur de Tierces: a historian speaks

Bernard Vuilliomenet is passionate about the past. He incarnates the free-thinker with a curious mind and an expressive style that come straight from the heart. And he has seen many a fragment of horological history.Including the rediscovery of Louis Moinet…

by Joel Grandjean – Bernard Vuilliomenet was born in Peseux in 1946. He trained as a watchmaking technician and then worked with companies like Bulova Watch, the Laboratoire d’Ebauches SA, Jaeger LeCoultre, Ebel, Breguet and Vacheron Constantin. He is currently an independent horological historian, but was once the president of the FSMA (Fondation suisse pour les métiers d’art) and vice president of the ASHR (Association suisse pour la recherche horlogère). As such, he continues to play an active role in the world of horology, maintaining a scientific and passionate approach by means of certain instructive memberships:in the SSC, for instance (Société suisse de Chronométrie), or the Chronométrophilia, the Association suisse de la Mesure du Temps, and AFAHA, the Association française des amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne. He has seen some historic pieces, and that is what we are here to speak about.

Louis Moinet Compteur de Tierces - Back to the future

Travelling back in time has always held a mystical appeal to vast swathes of the world’s population. Every individual has dreamt of retrospectively visiting a bygone era at some point in their lives. We would all love, at times, to rewrite history and influence the course of past events to determine an alternative conclusion.

by Angus Davies – Indeed, every time the lottery results are announced, I wish I could step back in history and select six numbers which would subsequently confer great fortune. The concept of travelling in time hasn’t escaped Hollywood. In 1985, in common with millions of other cinemagoers, I remember watching the film “Back to the future”. The blockbuster movie saw the fictional character Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, travel back in time to 1955 and observe his parents as adolescent teenagers embarking on a new relationship. A key aspect of this film was, of course, the silver hued DeLorean, modified into a time machine by the eccentric Doc Brown.

The Louis Moinet Chronograph by Joseph Flores