Introduced at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2009, the Grand Chronographe Régulateur is further proof of the innovative impetus at the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie provided through cooperation with Montblanc, the aim of which was to generate one new movement every year.
The most eye-catching features on the new chronograph are the regulator dial with its small hour circle at 12 o’clock and a large central minute hand. These are complemented by a second time zone display, a day/night indicator, a combined power reserve / winding display, the continuously running seconds hand and the chronograph function with its single-button operation, a large centre chronograph hand and all the design features typically associated with the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie.
Apart from certain familiar elements, the latest addition to the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 comes with new features which one would not necessarily associate with a traditional manufacture and its 150-year history.
A high-precision pendulum clock featuring a regulator-type dial with a small off-centre hour circle and large central minute hand was often to be found in watchmaking workshops in the past. Its extreme precision helped watchmakers to time and set their own movements. The regulator dial blends perfectly with the ‘garde-temps’ philosophy that inspires the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie to make watches for the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858.
The MB M16.30 calibre is a chronograph movement with a large central seconds hand, a small minute counter at 3 o’clock and a classical column wheel with a horizontal clutch. The chronograph levers are meticulously hand-crafted and finished, while the chronograph bridge, too – in the V-shape typical of Minerva – is hand-chamfered and polished. The heavy screw balance with its Phillips balance spring oscillates at the classic speed of 18 000 beats per hour (2.5 Hertz), which enables the user to record times to an accuracy of one-fifth of a second.
A second time zone display is ideal for users who are frequently on the move. To meet this need, the Grand Chronographe Régulateur shows local time on the upper, skeletonised hour hand in the small hour circle at 12 o’clock, while the blued hour hand below shows the time at home. When the owner is in his home time zone, the two hands are precisely superimposed, one above the other, but whenever he moves into a different time zone, he can set the appropriate hour hand to local time in one-hour steps using the button at 10 o’clock. A small 24-hour dial with a day/night display keeps the wearer informed of his home time.
One genuine watchmaking innovation is the large power reserve display in the lower half of the dial, which has two indicators to provide two important pieces of information about the watch’s running time. When the movement still has sufficient power, the two hands are precisely superimposed and indicate the remaining power reserve. When the tension in the mainspring has reached a low point (French BAS), the upper hand remains static, while the lower, red hand moves into the red area, indicating that it is time for the watch to be manually wound again by hand. A new type of mechanism, consisting of 19 individual parts, was devised to achieve this and has been registered for patent.
As a tribute to Minerva’s foundation in 1858, the Grand Chronograph Régulateur timepieces in the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 will be produced in a strictly limited edition in accordance with the 1 / 8 / 58 formula: unique watches in platinum, editions of eight watches in 18 ct. white gold and 58 pieces in 18 ct. red gold. The cases feature a convex bezel, a steeply domed sapphire glass and a sapphire glass see-through back protected by a hinged cuvette, which is released by a patented mechanism.