Guinness World Records™️

First high-frequency stopwatch

Louis Moinet wins a new Guinness World Record™️ title for the first high-frequency stopwatch.

This new Guinness World Records™ title is awarded to Louis Moinet, who revolutionised watchmaking in 1816. Not only did he invent the first chronograph (certified by Guinness World Records in 2016) but also high frequency, duly recognised by a new Guinness World Records title in 2020. This “first high-frequency stopwatch” award for his Compteur de Tierces made in 1816 definitively places Louis Moinet in the circle of the world’s most avant-garde watchmakers.

First high-frequency stopwatch

216,000 vibrations per hour

The Compteur de Tierces, the first high-frequency stopwatch, was made by Louis Moinet between 1815 and 1816.

This extraordinary instrument features an entirely original and innovative construction, with a chronograph mechanism beating at 216,000 vibrations per hour (30 Hz), a frequency absolutely unheard of at the time. To put things in perspective, the usual frequency of a modern watch is 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz). Louis Moinet was thus a pioneer in both chronographs and high frequency, with a 100-year lead over later developments in the same fields.

So why was Louis Moinet looking for such a high frequency? Simply because, in addition to being a watchmaker, he was also an astronomer. While his telescope enabled him to follow the transit of an observed star with ease, he still needed to be able to measure sixtieths of a second.

A sixtieth of a second corresponds to a rate of 216,000 vibrations per hour, meaning high frequency.

Astronomical observations

by Louis Moinet

Louis Moinet devised the first chronograph in history so as to be able to accurately observe the movements of stars through a telescope. His invention enabled him to measure the exact distance of the reticule lines of his telescope.

Louis Moinet himself explains the details:

The most accurate instrument of its time

The absolute precision

Since the 19th century, watchmakers had been trying to improve the precision of their mechanisms. The quest for absolute precision was an integral part of the science of horology. In 1820, it was accepted that the most accurate measurement standard was the tenth of a second. That implied that the Compteur de Tierces was the most accurate instrument of its time, with an accuracy six times greater than the previously known benchmark. This sixtieth of a second measurement also establishes Louis Moinet’s stature as one of the fathers of chronometry.