This is a good example of Montblanc’s push to make complication watches more accessible. €38,000 sounds a lot, but for this sort of watch is an extraordinarily low price when compared to most tourbillons, particularly considering that it features the ExoTourbillon, a Montblanc exclusive rather different from the normal tourbillon, and a monopusher chronograph, with a movement that seems fundamentally in-house.
An innovative tourbillon
The concept of the ExoTourbillon is that the balance is larger than normal, something that increases precision but also (perhaps more importantly) makes the watch more spectacular to observe. Normally a large balance would require an even larger tourbillon cage, but in the ExoTourbillon the cage sits under the balance on a two-point bearing. This saves weight and energy. The ExoTourbillon has another feature that would seem obvious in a complication designed to increase precision but that appears on just a few tourbillon watches (such as the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar), namely a stop-second function so that the watch can be adjusted to the second. The tourbillon cage has a red marker arrow that can be used to stop the seconds to a reference position (a partial scale is provided above the tourbillon aperture). A small spring stops the balance so that it can be restarted in synchronization with a time signal.
Chronograph with an unusual display
The chronograph is of the column-wheel type, and it is controlled with a monopusher. The two counters for chronograph seconds and minutes (60 seconds, 30 minutes) are semicircular, with hands of different lengths so that they correspond to the respective scales. The stepped dial gives the hands the space to clear the tourbillon bridge below. All together, this is truly an ingenious design solution that reduces the space taken up by the counters, maximising the space for the tourbillon. The date is shown on a circular central dial.
Symmetry and asymmetry
The watch is perfectly balanced, symmetrical from one side to another, but intriguingly asymmetric considering the vertical layout. The hour and minute hand pivot is above centre, and so the hour and minute scales around the edge of the dial have differential divisions (a solution often used by Cartier).
Time-setting adjustments are performed using the crown, and the hour hand can be set in hourly increments, useful when crossing timezone boundaries. The date is adjusted by advancing or retreating the hour hand.
Figures and details
The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph has the reference 112542, and it is powered by the automatic Calibre MB R230 movement, with double barrels providing a power reserve of about 50 hours. The case is 44 mm in diameter and 14.79 mm thick, with a transparent sapphire crystal caseback. Price €38,000.
Below, the automatic Calibre MB R230 movement: