The first major watch fair of the year, Salon International de Horlogerie, which takes place at the start of the year in Geneva, was the venue for the premier of the latest timepiece from the Montblanc’s Nicolas Rieussec collection. It is a watch dedicated to the first commercialized chronograph of the modern era which was created in the 19th century by Nicolas Rieussec and it more or less replicates the appearance of that historic timekeeper while employing modern engineering solutions. The novel mono-pusher chronograph can likewise pride itself with an innovative dial with hour numerals that become visible only when its dark. Montblanc Homage to Nicolas Rieussec will be available in two limited editions this fall. The first one is a steel housed edition of 565 pieces which will feature the price of around $12,250, while the other more lavish edition is ensconced in a rose gold housing. It will be restricted to 193 pieces and will cost around $36,770 when it arrives later this year.
A Monarch plus Passion for Horse Races Equals a Chronograph – The Invention of the First Modern Commercialized Chronograph
Montblanc introduced the Nicolas Rieussec collection seven years ago and it is the series which incorporates almost all of the brand’s most representative timekeepers. The entire collection is dedicated to Nicolas Rieussec who invented the first commercialized chronograph in 1821. This tribute to the celebrated French horological innovator who was employed by the nation’s royal court, is even clear from the name of the piece. Nicloas Rieussec is a very important figure in the history of watchmaking since he perfected one of the first chronographs of the modern times in 1821. His invention came at the request of Louis XVIII who was the French king at the time. The monarch was a known aficionado of horse races which is why he needed a device that would provide the exact measurement of race times for each of the horses. In order to tackle the problem, Nicolas Rieussec devised an ink chronograph with two rotational discs for seconds and minutes. Its motion was activated with a starting gun which would set two enameled disc in motion. Every time a horse would finish the race, the timekeeper’s operator would press a button which would cause the rhombic-shaped pointer to leave tiny drops of ink on two discs thus signifying the elapsed time. This procedure of “time writing” is exactly the reason why we call these kinds of watches chronographs which is Greek name for “time writing”.
Fixed Pointers are Rotating Chrono Counters
Montblanc Homage to Nicolas Rieussec from 2014 is modeled on the appearance of the original timekeeper which is mostly visible in its two rotational discs that are used for chrono counters. As it was initially so, the novel watch comes with static rhombus chrono hand used with both of the two revolving white lacquered discs. Of course, the practice of using droplets of ink to mark the measured period is abandoned in favor of modern horological solutions. The first look on the silver-colored dial of the Montblanc newcomer shows clean and minimalistic design with off-centered dial on the upper section, chrono counters on the bottom, as well as with neat indications for day/night and date display on the left and the right, respectively.
A Hidden Innovation
The off-centered dial of the new Montblanc apparently includes only minute scale with Arabic numerals in ten minute increments and lacks a Breguet-styled Arabic numerals scale which is characteristic for the products from the Nicolas Rieussec collection. But this is what is revealed only at the first glance. In fact, there is a scale with Breguet numerals which can be seen only in the dark. This is possible since the hour scale is made from innovative hybrid ceramic which is treated in Superlumionova. As the brand’s representatives reveal, this is the first time that the solution was used in watchmaking which gives the piece an additional doze of charm. The off-centered dial with hidden numerals likewise includes three skeletonized leaf shaped hands. There are two blued ones which are utilized for hours and minutes and an additional one in a gray shade that is used to show the hour in the second time zone. When it comes to the embellishments of the watch’s face, one notices that most of it is finely grained which looks very pretty in combination with the shiny surfaces of sub-counters. Additionally, there are satin-finishes encircling curved apertures at the sides.
Column Wheel Chronograph with Vertical Coupling
In the essence of the Montblanc’s latest timekeeper lays a mechanical movement that brings traditional craftsmanship and modern engineering together. It is self-winding Calibre MB R2000 with a column-wheel chronograph complication operated with a single pusher. Thanks to the vertical coupling that alternately engages and disengages the chrono wheels and the gear train, the chrono feature works nearly sans wear. Likewise, it additionally prevents the jumping of chrono hands once the feature is activated. It includes a sizeable bridge that still leaves its balance wheel visible while the chrono wheels can be partially seen. All of this, as well as a rotor with the brand’s logo, can be seen through the transparent section on the case-back.
Calibre MB R2000 is an in-house movement that includes 40 jewels and consists of 319 parts in total. It features a screw balance with a substantial diameter of 9.7 mm. It should also be said that it incorporates a flat hairspring and that it operates at the frequency of 28,800 vph. Thanks to a double barrel, this self-winding movement has a power storage that lasts for three days. When decorations are concerned, we can notice Geneva stripes on the bridges that likewise have polished and beveled edges.
Steel or Red Gold
The mentioned dial with a hidden hour scale is guarded with a sapphire crystal which is just slightly cambered and treated with glare-proof coating on both sides. Moreover, the watch has a fixed bezel and a housing of circular shape. The case is 43 mm wide and 14.8 mm thick and features a single pusher used for its chrono feature which is conveniently placed at the eight o’clock position, so it can be effortlessly operated with the wearer’s right thumb. There is also an onion-type crown with an engraving that shows the brand’s logo. Joined to the case by double stepped lugs that secure comfortable wear, there is a black alligator leather strap with a triple folding clasp which is made in the material of the case. As it has been mentioned, there will be two available case materials. The first of them is stainless steel. Montblanc has revealed that this issue will be restricted to 565 copies and will feature the price of about $12,250.
There is also another more luxurious version of Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Homage to Nicolas Rieussec which will be presented in a 18 K red gold case. This version will be launched in 193 copies (thus signifying the number of years since the invention of the original Nicolas Rieussec’s chronograph). Naturally, the more lavish version of the watch will also come at the higher price that measures to around $36,770. The release of the timekeeper that honors Nicolas Rieussec and his innovation is scheduled for this fall, though the precise date is still unknown.