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Live report from Olivier Muller of Delos Communications

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Montblanc is now under the direction of Jérôme Lambert, former CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. What does it change? Actually nothing so far, the brand is still very strong with a broad and consistent offer, from the Heritage 3-hands collections up to major complications, ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 Euros.

Entering the Chronometry world

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For this Heritage collection, the key word is chronometry. That's quite a strange wording considering that the pieces are not certified by the COSC or anything, but that's the way for Montblanc to refer to its glorious past gained with the acquisition of Minerva.

Along with this Chronometrie motto, Montblanc explores the seas and the path opened by Vasco de Gamma. Montblanc has already been exploring hemispheres with some Timewalker editions last year, but now the new Heritage Chronometrie Collection is strong of six models. It includes a perfect balance of two entry level watchs, to medium and two high end. The collection includes a timepiece that displays a second zone time (Dual Time) with an in-house developed complication, also offers a full calendar mechanism with classical window indicators (Quantième Complet) and an annual calendar mechanism (Quantième Annuel). An innovative further development is embodied by the reinterpretation of the patented "ExoTourbillon", which was originally introduced in the Collection Villeret in 2010. Five years later, Montblanc returns to this complication to integrate it into its own monopusher automatic chronograph calibre.

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With this ExoTourbillon construction, Montblanc offers for the first time a stop-second function that directly halts the screw balance by means of a tiny spring. Such a construction is very useful if the wearer wants to precisely set not only the hour and minute, but also the second-hand. Directly halting the balance in a tourbillon is a more precise construction than arresting the second-hand by halting the rotation of the tourbillon's cage because the former instantly stops the balance and prevents the "after-swing" that can occur when the tourbillon's cage is stopped.

However, the Heritage Chronométrie Exo Tourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama is probably the most exciting watch. Priced at 45,000 Euros, its construction is quite close from a Rieussec. Actually its caliber is an MB R230, that is to say, basically, a Rieussec movement with now a tourbillon. The typical face of the caliber can be recognized with the two counters on the lower part of the dial, with now 60 elapsed seconds and 30 elapsed minutes counters with double indication hands and corresponding sectorial scales.

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If you don't like the entry level models or you are not rich enough to afford tourbillons, have a look at the Quantième Annuel. A Quantième Annuel means that the watch only needs a manual correction for the switch from the 28th or 29th of February to the 1st of March. Quite a useful complication, only 238 units for 11,100 Euros. A more affordable version (Quantième Complet, counting full 31-days month all along the year) is also proposed with a moonphase at only 4350 euros.

Only for frequent travelers

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In addition, Montblanc unveiled three new references for frequent travelers, the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum. It's actually only one same piece, but with various finishings, from steel to gold, from 4990 euros up to 13 900 euros. The dial is constructed in a multi-layer way. At its centre, the main sapphire crystal dial displays the continents as viewed from the North Pole which are encircled by the names of the 24 cities representing the different timezones. Under the main dial is a disc showing day and night as well as the 24 hours timezones, which rotates with the movement mechanism.

And the talking piece is...

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The Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama! Its 47-mm-diameter case comprise hand-wound tourbillon Calibre MB M68.40, which supports quite an impressive number of functions : a triple time zone; the continually running and independently adjustable display for the home time is presented on a three-dimensional twelve-hour compass rose at "6 o'clock"; and a pair of globes depict the 24 time zones in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, along with the passage of the days and nights. Engraving and miniature painting on these two halved balls indicate in relief the outlines of the continents, their borders and the oceans that separate them. A pretty amazing miniature painting.

To understand the philosophy of the piece, it's important to note the use of the cylindrical hairspring, installed centuries ago only in the finest and costliest marine chronometers. Like a conventional balance-spring, a cylindrical balance-spring is a concentrically wound strip of elastic metal; however instead of being wound side by side, at increasing distances from a common centre and all on the same plane, its individual turns are all of equal diameter and are wound one atop the other. This eliminates the slight eccentricity of the centre of gravity, which has always been the Achille's heel of conventional balance-spring.

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