LOUIS MOINET (1768 - 1853)
Excerpt from the Pantheon Universal Biography
was born in Bourges in 1768 into a well-to-do family of farmers.
During his studies, he quickly distinguished himself for his
mastery of classical subjects, and he regularly took first
place in academic competitions. While still a student, he
was introduced to the world of watch making, and he spent
almost all of his free time by the side of a master watchmaker.
He was also privately tutored in drawing by an Italian painter.
At the age of twenty, Louis Moinet dreamed only of Italy,
that classical land of fine arts. So, he soon left France
for Rome where he lived for five years studying architecture,
sculpting and painting. There he came into regular contact
with members of the French Academy which brought together
the most illustrious artists of the time. From Rome, he went
on to Florence to perfect the artistic skills he had acquired.
As a painter, his legacy includes a number of fine works.
his return to Paris, he was made a Professor of Fine
Arts at the Louvre. At this time, he also began his
theoretical and practical studies of watch making, an
art which he already loved most passionately. He reestablished
contact with his former master watchmaker and, within
less than ten years, the master was to find himself
in the position of student to Moinet. Watch making soon
engrossed all of Moinet's time and its tools brought
him frequently to Switzerland where he spent extended
periods of time.
He became President of the Chronometry Society of Paris,
and a member of a number of learned and artistic societies.
When Moinet met Abraham-Louis Breguet, the latter was
already quite famous. Breguet recognised Moinet's worth
at once, and the two men worked closely together. From
1811 on, Moinet became Breguet's personal adviser.
Abraham-Louis Breguet's son, Antoine-Louis, found it
difficult to tolerate the presence of a man who spent
far more time with his father than he himself could.
When Breguet passed away in 1823, Moinet left the house
on the Quai de l'Horloge to live elsewhere.
Among his many technical accomplishments, Moinet re-made
a Ferdinand Berthoud regulator almost in its entirety.
He also invented a counter that, even today, is unequalled.
The same can be said for another regulator and an astronomical
watch. In terms of watch making techniques, Moinet was
a genius and he improved upon many existing methods.
According to records from an exposition of industry
products, a Mr. Francoeur "recognised the usefulness
of a new balance-cock which helped with rewinding. The
idea belonged to Mr. Moinet".
Louis Moinet undertook to share his extensive knowledge
of watch making and, in 1848, he published the Traité
d'Horlogerie. Indispensable for anyone in the field,
this volume is the most complete and most well written
book on watch making in existence.
It is also an everlasting monument to Moinet, establishing
for all time his talent and reputation.
He sacrificed everything to art: his time, his fortune
and his health. He spent most of his life creating,
imbuing materials with a life of their own.
We had the great fortune to live near to him during
the last 12 years of his life, and no one can appreciate
the many qualities of heart and spirit of this excellent
man more so than we can. He was always, in all of his
interactions, the man we knew as President of the Chronometry
Society: precise, lucid, indulgent, illuminating the
weak with support and encouragement, sharing his own
light and knowledge without restriction or the slightest
Louis Moinet died in Paris on 21 May 1853. We hold him
in our memory as one of the most capable watch makers
that ever lived.
Vice-president of the Chronometry Society of Paris
important clocks were created for Kings and other famous
personalities : King George IV of England, Napoleon, and
James Monroe, the 5th American President. Crafted in conjunction
with the famous bronze sculptor Pierre-Philippe Thomire,
these works of art are currently on display in such important
Museums as the Louvre in Paris, the Château de Versailles
and the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
Louis Moinet Clock belonging to King George IV of England,
in the Empire style, depicting Apollo and the nine Muses.
Bronze with marble base. 8-day movement striking the hours
and half-hours. Enamelled dial with Roman numerals. 1825-1830.
(Courtesy of Richard Redding Antiques, Zurich)
Louis Moinet Superb Restoration style clock featuring an
extremely rare design. Patinated bronze and Sienna marble.
8-day mechanism, lever escapement, striking the hours and
half-hours. Enamel dial bearing the Louis Moinet signature.
1825-1830. (Courtesy of Richard Redding Antiques, Zurich)
D'HORLOGERIE" DE LOUIS MOINET
Louis Moinet is the author of the celebrated watchmaking encyclopaedia
first published in 1848.
This work consists of two volumes and describes the most sophisticated
and ingenious horological techniques.
This masterpiece is enriched by many illustrations and technical
drawings, hand-made by Louis Moinet himself. Moinet worked
for twenty years on writing this treatise, which became the
reference work of the period.
published in 1848, this is one of the greatest horological
works of the century and contains some of the most clear and
concise descriptions of clock-making ever written". Chamberlain
book is the most comprehensive, the best written and the most
indispensable of all the books that have been written on watchmaking."
Panthéon Biographique Universel, Paris, 1853
Louis Moinet page