After having shown off fragments of the Moon, Mars, and the oldest known rock in the solar system, what could there possibly be left for Ateliers Louis Moinet to present? The answer: the carbonaceous CM chondrite meteorite. Could this be the proof of life in space? Quite possibly. The meteorite in question contains amino acids – the basic requirement for all lifeforms, vital for all metabolic processes. Space Mystery is the first timepiece in the world to include these authentic fragments bearing traces of amino acids – perhaps the very first known sign of life in the cosmos.
Space Mystery is the theatre for this display. The 46-mm-diameter watch offers many other exclusive features, the fruit of almost two years of development. The first, and no doubt the most visible, is the Magic Blue dial. Its precise composition is secret – and known to Louis Moinet alone. The blue is unlike anything achieved using enamel, lacquer, or galvanisation. It offers unique depth and power, evocative of the immensity of the galaxy.
An outsize tourbillon is located at 12 o’clock. Its balance wheel and bridge have been crafted in authentic Louis Moinet style; the upper part is in blued titanium. The tourbillon cage, boasting an exceptional diameter of 13.59 mm, hangs suspended in mid-air, 1.8 mm above the dial. Not only does this satellite tourbillon – also exclusive to Louis Moinet – rotate on its own axis, it is itself in orbit, as is its very own satellite planet, revolving every 60 seconds. What is more, contrary to existing off-axis tourbillons, the axis of rotation of the Space Mystery tourbillon is not the same as that of the hours and minutes hands.
At 9 o’clock sits Space Mystery’s most singular aspect of all: an aperture in the dial houses an authentic fragment of the amino acid meteorite. “Whatwehavehereissomethingthatgoesbeyondwatchmakingalone,” concludes Jean-Marie Schaller. “It’sauniversalmessage. Here, thesubjectislifeitself; ourveryownorigins. SpaceMysteryismuchmorethanajourney; it’saquestformeaning: wheredidwecomefrom? SpaceMysterycontainsatinyglimpseofananswertoaquestionthattranscendshumankind.”
The Space Mystery case is entirely hand-engraved and hand-polished. On either side of the crown, each caseband will include two other authentic fragments of heavenly bodies – one from Mars and the other from the Moon. There will be four editions of Space Mystery, each comprising 8 watches (2 in white gold, 2 in rose gold).
This is a limited edition of 8, because the latter is a visual reminder of the infinity symbol. Invented by the mathematician John Wallis in 1655, its shape is similar to the figure 8-shaped plane curve known as the lemniscate of Bernouilli.
Amino acids are organic compounds that play a vital role in the cell structure of all known living organisms. To date, some 500 different types of amino acid have been identified. Only 140 are capable of producing proteins, 20 of which form part of the makeup of human DNA. They all contain the four basic elements of life: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen.
The best-known CM chondrite is the Murchison meteorite that fell to earth in Australia in 1969. Analysis of the meteorite has led scientists to conclude that it alone contained over 200 different amino acids – the probability that it contains the first traces of non-terrestrial life is thus non-negligible.
Nobody yet knows exactly where this meteorite came from. The presence of non-terrestrial amino acids could indicate that it came from outside our solar system, over 4.5 billion years ago. Another theory is that it came from a comet, or from the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.