The Making of the Ultra-Rare Red Stromatolite Timepiece: An Exclusive Interview With Daniel Haas

Luxury watchmaker Louis Moinet has created a stunning new timepiece which incorporates the earliest known life on Earth. The Red Stromatolite timepiece was named for the oldest known fossil today, an extremely rare material which now exists in only a handful of places on the planet.

Stromatolites are limestone structures formed some 3.5 billion years ago when particles were trapped and bound in the earth by microorganisms. Throughout history, stromatolites helped create an atmosphere rich in dioxygen, which allowed the development of new forms of life. Now, Louis Monet is using stromatolites found in Western Australia’s shallow, hypersaline lakes and lagoons to create one of the most unique timepieces the watch world has ever seen.

Louis Moinet tapped Daniel Haas, a world specialist in the cutting of rare and precious stones, to create the Red Stromatolite dial. Haas created his own tools, including a diamond grindstone and stonecutter, in order to make a series of cuts which would select the most spectacular portions from the ultra-fragile fossils. In an exclusive interview, Haas spoke about the making of this ultra-rare timepiece:

Living red stromatolite, Shark Bay – Australia. © Mark Boyle

Daniel, most stromatolites are dark coloured or green. Why is this one red?
The red colour comes from iron oxide, which is rarely found in stromatolites.

What are your feelings as you transmute the oldest fossil on Earth into a work of art?
It is always extremely moving to work on a “piece of eternity”, so incredibly ancient, while seeking to create a product that is a work of art.

What is the trickiest part of the work?
Each step is demanding, but the last stages are actually the most dangerous. After dozens of hours of work have been put into manufacturing a stromatolite dial, it would be terrible to ruin everything in the last phases! One of these is the final cutting of the piece, done by ultrasound. The piercing takes over an hour and a half. The piece is naturally cut and polished completely by hand, which requires a very delicate touch. The last operation consists in polishing the surface and fitting the stone in its brass base; this is done with a small milling cutter. This final stage is in fact one of the most perilous, for the thinner portions of the fossil can easily break. The shape of the Tourbillon Vertalis dial, with its fragile extremities, is particularly challenging; this makes the task even more difficult.

Although there are many limited-edition models out there, this is truly one of the rarest and most unique watches ever created. The Red Stromatolite timepiece by Louis Moinet is certain to make history in the world of haute horlogerie.

Photos courtesy Louis Moinet.

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