Montblanc is celebrating 110 years of fine craftsmanship with a limited edition of three timepieces. The Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition is a watch that features a one-minute tourbillon, a double cylindrical balance spring and the Maison’s Heures Mystérieuses display, all completely developed and produced in-house at the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. The first impression here, conceptually at least, is that melding Montblanc’s impressive achievements in the category they practically own – fine writing instruments – into one they are making serious gains in – fine watchmaking – is an exciting chess move.
5 key features of the serpent encircled Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition
THE SNAKE: We’ve seen snakes on watches, we’ve seen snakes in backyards (this is Australia), hell we’ve seen snakes on planes, but few as lifelike as this extraordinary three-dimensional, hand-engraved, anthracite serpent. The serpentine design recalls the Maison’s first fountain pen series – the “Rouge et Noir” line, which featured a serpent clip and was the inspiration behind this year’s new Heritage Rouge & Noir Collection, bringing a contemporary twist to the early model with a slimmer and longer silhouette, as well as incorporating modern piston technology.
THE FLOATING HANDS: Look ma, no (attached) hands! Where Cartier is coy about revealing the mystery in their Mysterious Hours models, Montblanc just come out and say it. The press release says, “A closer look at [the subdial at 6 o’clock] reveals an unusual set of regate-shaped hands that are not attached in the centre like a conventional timepiece, but float mysteriously above the subdial, which also displays elegant Roman numerals and rhomboid indexes on a mirrored surface. This fascinating complication called the Heures Mystérieuses is made possible thanks to two wafer-thin transparent sapphire crystal discs—one with the hour hand embossed on it, and the other with the minutes hand—which are linked to the movement and turn to indicate the time. Inspired by the mysterious clocks of the 19th century, the original designs hid the mechanism in the clock case, creating an enigma for watch connoisseurs of the day.” Mystery solved.
THE MYSTERIOUS MOVEMENT, ON SHOW: It’s an open hand as far as the mysterious movement, which is traditionally concealed, goes too. “For [this model] Montblanc has decided to leave the workings of the movement on show. The absence of a dial allows each owner to fully appreciate the floating hands and the Heures Mystérieuses mechanism that propels them. Black rhodium-plated bridges and plates contrast with the highly-polished mechanical parts and highlight the finest level of finishing and decoration that is one of the signatures of the Montblanc Collection Villeret timepieces.”
PITY THE WATCHMAKER ON TOURBILLON BRIDGE POLISHING DUTY: Because it takes a week. Just that single, eminently attractive double infinity symbol-shaped piece of metal. The remainder of the tourbillon’s 95 components are also hand-bevelled, chamfered, angled, polished and decorated in-house by Montblanc’s master craftsmen – but it’s the bridge that stands out. The one-minute tourbillon is detached from the movement and revolves in a case of its own, making a full rotation of its axis every 60 seconds. It has a a weight of 1.010 grams, and a traditional frequency of 2.5 Hertz (18,000 bph). Note the three mobile compensating weights, each featuring the Minerva arrow, which can be regulated to obtain perfect equilibrium for the manually-wound Calibre MB M65.63 and its 46-hour power reserve.
THIS IS ONE DOUBLE HAIRSPRING SHOW YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS: Most balance springs are flat and are wound around a common centre, you know the type. In comparison, a cylindrical balance spring is wound around a vertical axis, with each turn positioned on top of the next, and with each one having the exact same distance from the centre. They make a traditional balance spring look like a flat map of the earth. Not as exciting as the real thing. “This original formation helps to eliminate any eccentricity of the centre of gravity,” explains Montblanc. This model is equipped with two cylindrical hairsprings positioned concentrically, one inside the other, each with its own diameter, but both with identical torque. The springs move in opposite directions; while one spring expands, the other contracts, further optimizing isochronism and providing ultimate precision. The mind boggles at the thought of watching TWO cylindrical balance springs breathing in and out in harmony. One, pictured here at time stamp 1:30 is captivating enough….