Louis Moinet CEO On Maintaining The Legacy of the Renowned 18th-Century Watchmaker

Jean-Marie Schaller, owner and creative director of the Louis Moinet Swiss watch brand believes that destiny led him to ensure that the legacy of one of history’s greatest horological geniuses...
by Charmian Leong

Louis Moinet

Louis Moinet, inventor of the chronograph, may have never come to light in modern times if it wasn’t for one particularly dejected businessman. “I was just divorced, my pockets were empty, and my children lived far away. I was having a bad time, but I really wanted to start a watch company,” says Jean-Marie Schaller, the owner and creative director of the revived Louis Moinet brand, who was recently in town for an event by Sincere Haute Horlogerie.


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And Schaller did that. The only thing he had to do was follow destiny’s very obvious signs. Louis Moinet’s name kept popping up in random conversations until a friend offered him the chance to buy the name for 8,000 Swiss francs (S$11,200). At first, he was hesitant, but when he found out that someone else was willing to pay 15,000 Swiss francs for it, he jumped at the chance, and launched the brand in 2004.

Then Schaller discovered that Moinet’s Compteur de Tierces — the world’s first high-frequency stopwatch that beats at 30Hz — was being auctioned by Christie’s in 2012. The maximum he was willing to bid was 30,000 Swiss francs. However, when he woke up on the morning of the auction, he heard a voice whisper: “50,000”. It turned out to be exactly the amount needed to outbid “an esteemed watch company from Geneva” that wanted it for its museum.


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“I have a feeling that Louis Moinet found me. I did not look for him,” he muses. Whether it was Moinet’s invisible nudging or simply his own gut instincts, what is certain is that Schaller has anchored the brand in a respectable corner of independent watchmaking while upholding its values of creativity, exclusivity, art and design. This means bespoke timepieces, high-end complications, and the use of exotic materials like moon meteorites, and fossilised dinosaur bones and palm trees.

Despite Moinet’s rich legacy, Schaller has no interest in making watches that look overtly traditional. “Louis Moinet was a visionary pioneer. I don’t think he would be happy if we made watches in a classical style. I want to push the boundaries and create bold, contemporary designs. I just want to be myself, and our customers just want to have fun.”

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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