30 minutes on the wrist - The Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama Limited Edition
During the last SIHH, the Montblanc’s booth has been one of the most visited and admired. In the middle of the stand was a round table with, above it, an oversized tourbillon cage, whose effect was to attract enthusiasts to the brand’s latest high-end watchmaking creations. Collections that have drawn inspiration from legendary explorer Vasco da Gama, and in which the touch of Jerome Lambert is sometimes quite evident; he’s the brand CEO, as well as of some Jeager-LeCoultre creations realized in the past under his advice (the two watchmakers, if you didn’t know it, are both part of the Richemont Group). The Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres Vasco da Gama Limited Edition stood out among the novelties; this is a super-complicated timepiece that blends a cylindrical tourbillon with a double world-timer. An exceptional timepiece, such as we’ve gotten used to with Montblanc especially since the brand launched its Villeret collection some years ago, thus re-launching the development of legendary movement maker Minerva.
After a bit of anticipation (curiosity surrounding the timepiece was rife) the moment finally arrived when one of Montblanc’s master watchmakers showed me the watch, and introduced me to its technical features. To be honest during the presentation my mind was elsewhere, not only fascinated by the tourbillon complication, but rather by the dial’s unconventional design: this displays local time, home time and double world time via two 24 hours discs, with night and day indication, that rotate around two blue eyes, which represent the Northern and Southern hemispheres (a way for Montblanc to celebrate the circumnavigation of the globe by Vasco da Gama), protected by two thin sapphire crystal spheres.
Technical prowess begins with a 1 minute tourbillon cage that adopts a cylindrical spring applied to caliber MB M68.40, a solution developed and fine-tuned in-house, that helps improve precision rate if compared to a traditional architecture. The two hemispheres are painted using the “peinture miniature”, an old technique that today just a few artisans are able to master.
The different tones of blue that indicate the oceans’ different depths have also been realized through this technique. Home, local and world time-zones hours are all adjusted via the central crown. A single push button placed at 8 allows you to operate the hour hand independently from the minute one, when changing time-zone. Home time is located at 6, into a small dial in the shape of a wind rose, and whose hand is shaped as a small lily.
On the 47mm red gold case (the Vasco da Gama is impressive) are engraved, on the see-through transparent case back’s external ring, the names of the 24 cities of the world corresponding to the 24 time-zones.
The Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres Vasco da Gama Limited Edition will be made in just 18 pieces and is undoubtedly one of the most appealing tourbillon watches I have ever seen.
I don’t want to diminish the making of the tourbillon, that has been fully conceived, assembled and fine-tuned in-house (not to be given for granted even in high-end watchmaking), and that clearly stands out on the dial (thanks to the unmistakable bridge we are used to with a tourbillon from the Villeret’s line up, too); I do think though that the combination of technical complication and a three-dimensional dial, with the double time-zone visualization, are sky high and give the Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres Vasco da Gama Limited Edition that “warmth” that is missing from many competitors’ timepieces, that sometimes concentrate too much on the display of the technical architecture of a tourbillon, thus losing sight of its appeal. In this sense, the Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres Vasco da Gama Limited Edition stands in between classic high-end watchmaking and the idea of a time-machine, where traditional watchmaking begins to fade and turns into pure creativity, where design becomes a bit more unconventional, as it’s the case for instance with the so-called “de-structured hour” visualization.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter - Watches & Luxury