The tourbillon-powered Derrick Gaz combines automaton and watchmaking prowess, illustrating the vitality of the fully independent Ateliers Louis Moinet,
Is there still scope for creativity, innovation and unicity? It would seem so, because once again Louis Moinet has moved into completely uncharted territory in both technical and aesthetic terms.
At the heart of this voyage lies creation in the strictest sense of the term. The twelfth-century word “create” derives from the same Latin root as “crescere”; before it took on its present-day meaning of invention, it originally had the sense of “grow”. And ‘growing’ was indeed the vocation of Louis Moinet, the man who invented the chronograph in 1816 and pioneered high frequencies in watches, along with many other discoveries: growing the art of watchmaking and taking it forward to new horizons. Today, creative growth remains the vocation of the Ateliers that bear his name.
The theme of the pipeline
Indeed, Ateliers Louis Moinet is continuing to plough the same creative furrow. The Derrick Gaz is a wholescale invention: a timepiece at the crossroads of high precision, watchmaking art and the great tradition of automatons. The piece is intended to be both technical and fun. Based on an attentive observation of the traditional gas extraction systems of the nineteenth century, it is fitted with an expansive tourbillon, one of Louis Moinet’s distinctive hallmarks.
Everything begins with the extraction of the precious chemicals. The gas derrick rises up majestically on the left-hand side of the timepiece. This large openwork structure – skeletonized would be the term from watchmaking – is made from 18-carat gold, a perfect reproduction in every detail of the derricks dedicated to underground exploration. Similarly, in the middle there is a replica of a drill – an endless screw that is also in endless movement on the Derrick Gaz, rotating about its axis once every 2.5 seconds.
And so the gas begins its journey along the pipeline, symbolized by the tourbillon bridge, suitably curved in exactly the right tubular shape to maintain the distinctive aesthetic appearance of the timepiece. The same type of bridge is also to be found beneath the regulator system for the hours and minutes.
The gas pipeline leads to the valve handle. Obviously, this is what controls the flow of fuel on a real-life gas network. With the same desire for consistency, Louis Moinet has connected it directly to the crown: when the timepiece is wound by hand, the valve handle turns too, as if it were regulating the supply of energy to the Derrick Gaz.
The pipeline continues its path to a white dial: the gas derrick’s manometer serves as the Power Reserve indicator for the Derrick Gaz. Everything on it – down to the tiniest details, including the shape, type, proportions and design of the hand – is a faithful reproduction of the real manometers to be found on gas networks.
The journey comes to a natural close at 3 o’clock, where the gas is stored in a tank made from fully polished 316L steel.
“The timepiece is so instantly compelling because we’ve successfully taken up the challenges involved,” explains Jean-Marie Schaller, Louis Moinet’s CEO. “Nevertheless, it was particularly difficult to produce this new automaton. To fashion each of its components, we had to use innovative manufacturing processes: only they could achieve the unrivalled degree of precision required to craft the gas derrick and the tubular pipeline structure running right across the timepiece. Each of the components was then hand-finished, as are all of our most exclusive pieces.”
The Derrick Gaz will feature many of Louis Moinet’s distinctive style marks: luminous Dewdrop hands, a 255-part Louis Moinet LM42 movement decorated with wave-pattern Geneva Stripes, sunray brushing and pearling, a Fleur-de-Lys applique, and a patented 47 mm Louis Moinet case. The dial will also be decorated with a coloured, lacquered Clou de Paris concentric pattern – a first in Louis Moinet collections.
The timepiece boasts a three-day power reserve and will be available in two exclusive limited editions of 28 pieces each, in 5N 18-carat rose gold with a black dial, and PD150 18-carat white gold with a blue dial.