Swiss luxury watch brand Maurice Lacroix developed the first memory function for a mechanical watch. This completely new Grande Complication, which will find its initial application in the exclusive Mémoire 1 chronograph.
Limited to 20 pieces, Maurice Lacroix Mémoire 1 chronograph is equipped with the first memory function for a mechanical timepiece.
Presented at Baselworld 2008, this watch has only two hands – one for the minutes and one for the seconds – along with a disc to indicate the hours.
By pressing the button integrated into the crown at 3 o’clock, the mode changes from “Time” to “Chrono”. The hands and the hours disc immediately change their positions. If their previous function was telling the current time, they are now available for the chronograph functions.
When the button is pressed once again, they all return to their positions for telling time. Even when the chronograph is running, it is still possible to shift back and forth between the two modes without losing the information provided by one or the other function.
The memory function of the ML 128 manufacture movement makes possible this unique connection between the time and chronograph indications. The mechanism and movement were completely designed and developed in the new “Atelier de Maurice Lacroix”. The highly complex grand complication calibre is made of 537 components for which Maurice Lacroix has already submitted two patent applications.
All the components and their positions in the heart of the Mémoire 1 watch have been conceived in both logical and aesthetic terms.
The automatic winding system consists of an exocentric oscillating assembly, which permits to show the regulatory system to advantage. Thanks to its small dimensions, the rotor does not cover the surface entirely and therefore offers a view into the workings of the Mémoire 1 from the underside of the watch. So that it can perform the necessary rapid and efficient winding of the barrel, the rotor has been constructed in tungsten, which is a heavy material.
But with an asymmetrical design and an unconventional shape, this rotor has been developed with the aim of achieving good, aesthetic integration in the special turret shape of the bridges of this movement.
The pure decoration and the innovative PVD surface treatment in tantalum colour bring the image of Maurice Lacroix to the fore. The specialists have pushed harmony as far as it can go and even went so far as to construct the screws on the bridges in a shape resembling that of the turret, so that the overall view forms a harmonious whole.
The rotor pivots on a ball bearing developed specifically for the requirements of this new calibre and works directly in the reverse, via the expedient of a “magic pawl” which optimizes all the wrist movements of the wearer. A bi-directional winding has been retained in order to allow maximum winding litheness and also guarantee maximum torque.
The power supplied by the automatic mechanism is transmitted to a barrel which has a strong energy density and this allows a power reserve of more than four days. From the barrel, the movement turns backwards. This allows a spring to be compressed on the barrel arbour, which is exactly the same as in a traditional movement. However, this spring compresses from right to left instead of from left to right. The result is logical: the wheels which transfer the motor power to the regulator turn backwards.
These wheels are endowed with the most modern profiles, which allow optimum performance to be achieved. It is the equivalent of transmitting the energy emitted by the barrel under optimum conditions. Furthermore, the special shape of the wheel arms, as well as their colour, also give a strong visual identification to Mémoire 1. Thus one can sense the philosophy that dominates this exceptional piece: logic married to technology and aesthetics.
Finally, and as always for technical and aesthetic reasons, the stones which decorate the movement are white and transparent. Of course this is all part of the aesthetic philosophy of Mémoire 1, but it also makes it possible to visualize and control the intermeshing between pinions and crown wheels. Moreover, the watchmaker can clearly see the drop of oil placed in the hollow section of the stone in which the pinion pivots.
After having transmitted through the wheels, the energy is passed on to the escapement. This has been developed especially for this new calibre carrying the signature of Maurice Lacroix because it has been totally adapted to the needs of its complication. The creators wanted to show it, to have it valued, as if to give all their importance to the heart of a watch that beats without a break and marks the passage of time.
As for the balance, this has been given a core of transparent sapphire and a felloe of gold, which underlines the depth of the movement, yet gives an airy impression to the whole regulation system. Finally, this mechanism is equipped with a new precision adjustment, different from the traditional swan’s neck design. This system, developed by Maurice Lacroix, will considerably simplify the work of the watchmaker when trying to obtain the best performance for the ML 128 calibre, which beats at 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour.
Furthermore, with an exceptional movement comes exceptional service. In order to be able to guarantee complete information for those wearing it, the movement of Mémoire 1 is supplied with a plate displaying service times, so the wearer can see when the next necessary service is due. Finally, this movement has an identity personalized by the name of the watchmaker responsible for assembling the elements of this Grande Complication, which bears the signature of Maurice Lacroix.
The base movement of this chronograph is a sufficiently major feature alone; it has been perfected, however, through the watchmaking ingeniousness of its complications.
Even if it does not seem so at first glance, the Mémoire 1 really is a chronograph. Using the button integrated directly into the crown, you can switch between time and chronograph mode.
The indication of the selected mode is taken over by a small hand near 3 o’clock. This operation is made possible thanks to an ingenious mechanism, which the creators christened ‘va et vient’ (‘come and go’) and for which Maurice Lacroix has already filed a patent.
Starting, stopping, and resetting the chronograph function the same way on the Mémoire 1 as with the stopwatch functions on all other similar timepieces: Pressing a button near 2 o’clock starts and stops timekeeping; resetting the hands is done with the button at 4 o’clock.
A heart-shaped metal component – one for each indication: hours, minutes and seconds – allows the chronograph hands to jump back to their initial positions at 12 o’clock.
The principle of ‘all or nothing’ permits the release of the detent arm on most watches with minute repetition when the appropriate rack has been fully pressed. If the wearer completely presses the corresponding button, the watch movement counts the full hours, quarter hours and minutes.
However, if the button is not pressed to the bottom, the function does not start. The Mémoire 1 is equipped with a similar system, which guarantees the perfect functioning of the mode change. This system is not only very interesting from a technical point of view, it also makes it much easier to tell the time because it ensures the precision of the indications of hours, minutes and seconds.
As soon as the selection mode with its ‘va et vient’ mechanism is pressed, a connecting mechanism, which is based on the principle of ‘all or nothing’, sets the three systems of the memory function in motion. These Mémoire systems are ingenious watchmaking devices that correspond to the indications – hours, minutes and seconds.
Not least, the Mémoire 1 has a date indication based on a newly developed mechanism, which unifies technology, design and readability perfectly. Contrary to traditional large date indications, the date on the Mémoire 1 is very discrete in order not to spoil the harmony of the dial while not compromising any of its easy readability.
The design and the movement decoration of Mémoire 1 feature several world firsts. The strong and unique visual appearance is its first distinguishing feature.
A closer look reveals the subtle harmony of the pure and elegant design with its smooth transition from mirror-polished components to fine-brushed surfaces uniting the different levels of the case and dial. The Mémoire 1 watch fuses elegant design and exceptional functions. Its unites eye-catching styling perfectly with simple readability and ease of use.
Round-shaped, the pure and elegant white gold case of the Mémoire 1 watch comes in a unique and entirely new look. It is built up from several different levels and its screw-fitted bezel with a laterally mounted sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating enables the movement of the seconds hand to be admired. Another innovative feature is the mode selection button which is integrated in the crown at 3 o’clock.
The dial also incorporates a number of innovations. Its different levels make the individual displays far more easily readable. A skeleton section with an aperture at 6 o’clock reveals the movement behind and the memory mechanism for the seconds. The date display is also special: with its uniquely inclined disc, this indication takes up a considerable amount of space, but does enable the date to be seen at first glance.
Another world first of the Mémoire 1 is the hours disc. This transparent disc is not made of sapphire, but an innovative mineral-based material with superior quality. The seconds hand is blued and mounted at its outer edge on the minutes ring, while the minutes hand has a white luminous coating with a blue radiance in the darkness. A skeleton hand at 3 o’clock shows the selected mode.
The Mémoire 1 is worn on a strap which is fully integrated with the case by means of a hinge system. It is made of precious, matte-finished alligator leather and its buckle is in white gold.
Model: Maurice Lacroix Mémoire 1 Limited Edition
Maurice Lacroix manufacture movement, mechanical movement ML 128 with automatic, bidirectional winding system, hand-decorated with vertical or circular satinized sections and PVD surface refinement in tantalum colour; wheels gold-plated or with black PVD surface refinement; 48 jewels (25 transparent, 23 ruby-coloured); Maurice Lacroix precision adjustment with “vis sans fin” (endless screw) system; transparent Maurice Lacroix balance with white gold ring; KIF shock protection; Nivaflex M mainspring (exclusive to Maurice Lacroix); 28,800 a/h.
Chronograph with mechanical memory function, real time (time mode) and measured time interval (chrono mode) use the same indications (disc and hands); indication of hours with disc, indication of minutes and seconds with central hands; date indication with disc at 12 o’clock; mode indication with hand at 3 o’clock.
White gold 210 0/00 palladium; sapphire crystals with anti-reflective coating on inside; screwed caseback with sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating (8 screws); water-resistant to 50m (5 atu); diameter 49 mm.
Black and silver-coloured; 4 parts assembled by hand; functions indicated on different levels; transparent, mineral-based hours disc with anti-reflective coating; minutes hand, hours disc and hours indication at 12 o’clock with white, luminous coating giving a blue radiance; applied and facetted index marks.
Hand-sewn, matte alligator leather with buckle in white gold 210 0/00 palladium
Limited to 20 pieces, numbered, with certificate.