Over the top

Mont­blanc’s new tourbillon sus­pends in mid-air with just half a bridge.

Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

Watch­mak­ing at Mont­blanc hap­pens at two sites within Switzer­land. Le Lo­cle is its high­vol­ume man­u­fac­ture that pro­duces most of the en­try-level pieces up to medium com­pli­ca­tions, while Villeret is its ex­clu­sive her­itage-rich man­u­fac­ture pro­duc­ing small quan­ti­ties of finely hand­crafted haute hor­logerie trea­sures. In­creas­ingly syn­er­gis­tic, the two man­u­fac­tures crosspol­li­nate ideas and ex­per­tise, re­sult­ing in stronger and more co­he­sive col­lec­tions un­der one brand name, Mont­blanc.

The Star Legacy line is a new in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the pre­vi­ous Star col­lec­tion, which fea­tured pre­dom­i­nantly bread-and-but­ter mod­els with ex­ter­nally sourced move­ments. Now though it is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to Mont­blanc’s Villeret spirit, specif­i­cally, the old Min­erva man­u­fac­ture es­tab­lished in 1858. (Min­erva is the name of the man­u­fac­ture in Villeret be­fore Mont­blanc took over.) This means that ev­ery Star Legacy time­piece will be made with clas­si­cal fin­ish­ing and de­sign that’s tra­di­tional but also in­no­va­tive in terms of watch­mak­ing fi­nesse.

Lead­ing the charge is the Star Legacy Sus­pended Exo Tourbillon, a watch that sounds com­pli­cated—and it is—but ac­tu­ally isn’t too dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. First up, Mont­blanc’s Exo Tourbillon is a pa­tented de­sign that im­proves on the tra­di­tional tourbillon. Exo here is de­rived from the Greek word for ex­ter­nal, and it refers to the fact that the balance wheel is placed out­side the tourbillon car­riage—in clas­si­cal tour­bil­lons, the balance wheel is placed inside the car­riage. This frees the car­riage of the weight of the balance wheel and lib­er­ates the balance wheel of the in­er­tia of the car­riage. More­over, by uncaging the balance wheel, Mont­blanc could in­crease the di­am­e­ter of the balance, thus in­creas­ing chrono­met­ric ac­cu­racy.

This con­struc­tion el­e­vates the large balance wheel 3.2mm higher than the dial, re­sult­ing in a stun­ning ar­chi­tec­ture and Mont­blanc high­lights this fea­ture by us­ing a tourbillon bridge with only one arm. Be­cause of its asym­met­ri­cal de­sign and the ex­tra-long axis for the balance, the Sus­pended Exo Tourbillon was more com­plex to as­sem­ble than or­di­nary tour­bil­lons.

One of the most charm­ing fea­tures here is the ode to Min­erva: a large balance wheel with a fre­quency of 18,000vph. Another nod to the leg­endary man­u­fac­ture is an ar­row-shaped mir­ror­pol­ished bar­rel pawl—a sig­na­ture of all Min­erva move­ments.

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