Founded by brothers Charles and Hyppolite Robert in 1858, the company that later took the Minerva brand name in 1923 had great success with its Calibre 13.20, a chronograph movement of exceptional quality with a column-wheel mechanism, a Breguet balance spring and 17 jewels.
In 2006 the luxury goods group Richemont, who owns Montblanc and several other luxury timepieces brands, bought the Fabrique d'Horlogerie Minerva SA which became a department of Montblanc under the name Institut Minerac de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie. Minerva movements have been used for Montblanc's Villeret 1858 collection as well as for some Officine Panerai models.
The Minerva Calibre 13.20 was one of the first chronograph calibres for wristwatches. Equipped with pulsometer scales, these precise measurers of brief intervals were especially popular among physicians enabling them to read the pulse rate per minute without having to continue feeling the patient’s pulse for a full sixty seconds.
The new Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph, introduced at the SIHH 2014, adopts a hand-made chronograph movement (Montblanc Calibre MB M13.21) which was inspired by the Minerva Calibre 13.20.
The V-shaped chronograph-bridge is directly inspired by its counterpart in Minerva’s Calibre 13.20 with inner angles that no machine can handle and can be found only in fine handmade movements. In fact, the bridge proudly bears the name “Minerva Villeret”. The movement draws its energy from a large barrel with circularly grained inner surfaces. The movement can be admired through the glare-free sapphire crystal in the back of the case.
On the dial side, the pulsometer scale of the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is positioned along the periphery of the dial and it is calibrated for 30 pulse beats with subdivisions for each tenth and fifth pulsation along a railroad-style track.
This scale concentrically surrounds the chronograph’s elapsed-seconds scale, which is subdivided into fifths of a second to correspond with the balance’s frequency of 2.5 hertz (18,000 vibrations per hour). The chronograph hands are crafted from blued steel with the elapsed seconds one being red tipped. The arrowhead of the small hand on the elapsed-minutes subdial is an allusion to the logo of the former Minerva Manufacture. The time is shown by faceted hands in the classical dauphine shape, which sweep over the silver-white dial embellished with sunburst patterns and the applied gold-plated Roman numerals “XII” and “VI”.
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph will be available in a 41-mm rose gold case. A diamond, cut and polished to form the emblem of the Maison, is inset into the middle piece of the case at “6 o’clock” to remark that this watch is equipped with a manufacture calibre.
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph (ref. 11626) will be in distribution in the fall 2014 in a limited edition of 90 timepieces with a a retail price of 27,000 Euro.