Montblanc celebrates its 110 years of fine craftsmanship with a limited edition of three timepieces.
Completely developed and produced at the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret, the Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition features a one-minute tourbillon, a double cylindrical balance spring and the signature Heures Mystérieuses display.
This new timepiece recalls the design theme of Montblanc’s first fountain pen series – the historic “Rouge et Noir” line. This iconic writing instrument, with its serpent clip, 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.
A recurring motif in art and design, serpent was a rich source of inspiration during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods and today it provides the inspiration for Montblanc’s 110th Anniversary Collection, as can be seen on the face of this Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition timepiece, where a three-dimensional, hand-engraved, anthracite serpent has been integrated into the bezel. This historic design is also depicted on the back of the 52 mm red gold case with an elegant hand-engraving of a slithering serpent.
A large tourbillon, measuring 18.4mm in diameter, occupies the top half of the watch’s face, while a subdial of the same dimension at 6 o’clock shows the time display below. A closer look at it 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.
For the Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition, however, 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.
The Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition is equipped with the hand-crafted manually-wound Calibre MB M65.63 with a one-minute tourbillon and a double cylindrical hairspring. The tourbillon is one of the most complex horological mechanisms to produce, and one of this increased size demands even more skill and expertise to create. All of its 95 components are hand- bevelled, chamfered, angled, polished and decorated in-house by Montblanc’s master craftsmen, following the same techniques of decoration as those used centuries ago.
The tourbillon is detached from the movement and revolves in a case of its own, making a full rotation of its axis every minute. It has a high inertia at 59 mgcm2, a weight of 1.010 grams, and a traditional frequency of 2.5 Hertz (18,000 bph). Of particular note are three mobile compensating weights, each featuring the Minerva arrow, which can be regulated by the watchmaker to obtain perfect equilibrium for the manually-wound Calibre MB M65.63 and its 46-hour power reserve.
The large escapement of the Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition is composed of a bi-cylindrical hairspring that was developed by the engineers at the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret exclusively for the Montblanc Collection Villeret. The vast majority of contemporary balance springs are flat and are wound around a common centre. 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.
This original formation helps to eliminate any eccentricity of the centre of gravity. Montblanc has equipped its Villeret Tourbillon Bi- Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition with not one, but 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.
Cylindrical balance springs were first used in marine chronometers at the end of the 18th century. They were regarded as the peak of excellence and performance and were installed in only the finest and most expensive marine chronometers. The accuracy of these clocks over long periods of time revolutionized navigation at sea.
The Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret is one of very few manufacturers with the expertise to produce its own balance springs. After intensive testing of different types of balance springs, and the metal alloy used for the wire from which balance springs are made, specialists at the manufacture are capable of producing their very-own bi-cylindrical balance springs, bringing innovation and an additional element of exclusiveness to this already exceptional timepiece strictly limited to three pieces.