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SIHH 2015: Montblanc - Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph

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Montblanc debuted the patented ExoTourbillon mechanism, which was completely developed and built in the Manufacture in Villeret, as part of the Collection Villeret in 2010. Five years later, Montblanc returns to this patented tourbillon construction to integrate it into the new Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph, just unveiled at SIHH 2015.

As most of our readers know, a tourbillon mechanism encloses the escapement inside a carriage or cage that continually rotates around its own axis. The carriage’s rotation allows the watch’s average rate to remain constant.

For the Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph, Montblanc adopted a large, massy, screw balance which, in a traditional tourbillon construction, would require a correspondingly large and heavy rotating cage.

The ExoTourbillon solves this problem by isolating the screw balance from the rotating cage so the cage is smaller than the balance, which oscillates outside the rotating carriage and on a higher plane. In fact, the Greek prefix “exo” used in ExoTourbillon, means “outside” or “external”.

The advantage of this construction is that a smaller rotating cage has less mass so it needs less energy to support its rotary motion. Compared to a traditional tourbillon construction, energy savings of approximately 30% are achieved, while at the same time increasing the precision.

Montblanc also integrated a stop-second function that directly halts the screw balance by means of a tiny spring, a useful feature to precisely set not only the hour- and minute-, but also the second-hand. In order to precisely adjust the time, the tourbillon cage integrates a red marker in form of an arrow, which allows to read the seconds on the respective scale printed on the opening of the dial around the tourbillon.

The Manufacture Calibre MB R230 - beating at 21,600 vph and offering a 50-hour power reserve - combines all the elements of a traditional chronograph with a contemporary highly performing construction: monopusher with column wheel, efficient and precise vertical coupling, automatic winding and two barrels.

Two semicircular counters with hands of different lengths to match the appropriate sectorial scales, enable the Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph to tally elapsed seconds (at 8 o'clock) and minutes (at 4 o'clock). These counters are embedded on two levels into the nicely crafted dial, which also bears six faceted, applied, red gold indexes.  The date is indicated by a hand which extends the dial’s centre. The tip of this hand points to the current date on a circular grey scale.

Another useful feature, especially when travelling, is the possibility to reset the hour-hand in hourly increments without affecting the minute- and second-hand.

The 44 mm diameter case - thickness is 14.79 mm - is crafted from red gold with a concave bezel for scratch protection. The faceted horns are satin-finished on the inside and polished on the outside.

The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph (ref. 112542) has a price of Euro 38,000.

A limited edition dedicated to Vasco de Gama and his flagship, the São Gabriel, is also available. Produced in just 60 pieces, the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama Limited Edition 60.

The upper part of the dial is embellished with a slice of aventurine, dyed dark blue, with numerous small dots to emulate a starry night sky. A wave-shaped guilloché, designed in flinqué style and coated with blue paint, in the centrally positioned hand-type date display refers to the nocturlabium (star clock), which was one of the navigational instruments aboard the São Gabriel.

The pane of sapphire crystal in the case back is decorated with a sketch of the historic sailing vessel.

Available in a 44 mm white gold case, the Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama Limited Edition (ref. 112649) has a price of Euro 45,000.

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