On 18th January 2010, Montblanc has revealed its Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph (ref. 105920) with some parts of its hand-wound Calibre MB R120 made of silicon. Among hundreds of ultra-luxury wristwatches that were presented during the SIHH 2010, this one, perhaps, was among those precious few that offered the most interesting combination of the deliberately classic exterior, and their in-house caliber that now features a deliciously modern twist to it.
Although its explicitly three-dimensional face looks rather busy with moving and static parts, it is still legible enough because all the elements are placed following the logic of usability.
The chronograph’s visual center is only a couple of millimeters lower than the real center of the dial demonstrating that it is the hour and minute sectors that lead the cast of characters here. The dial with its tri-compax layout looks like the three sub-dials are in constant motion slowly orbiting their common center of mass.
Of course, what is the most interesting about this Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is its hand-wound Calibre MB R120 movement.
Based on the well-known Calibre MB R110 (that, in its turn, is based on an earlier MB R100: a movement that Montblanc has reportedly developed together with its sister brand ValFleurier that is, too, owned by the same Richemont Group,) this little engine features a deliberately archaic design, yet has its lever and the escape-wheel made of silicon. Anti-magnetic, corrosion-resistant and extremely lightweight, this material allowed the watchmakers from the recently established Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haut Horlogerie to lower the parts’ dead weight by about 70 percent, thus reducing energy loss and increasing the accuracy.
With the frequency of its balance wheel limited at deliberately low 18,000 vph, the twin-barrel mechanism offers surprisingly low power reserve value of just 72 hours. Still, this would be enough for those planning to wear the chronograph daily. Those who plan to limit its use to only particularly special occasions may find it not as convenient since, sporting a hand-wound system, the mechanism would have to be manually wound and re-set each time you’d find yourself in a mood of wearing one. For me, this sort of breaks the deal, but for me having a collection of watches was more about the spontaneity of choice: I am one of those persons who always waits till the last second before choosing a timekeeper I want to go with today.
The movement is hidden inside an elegant round case 43.0 mm in diameter and 14.6 mm thick. The case, which is predictably crafted from 18-karat rose gold alloy, is a tad too large for what is essentially a glorified dress watch, yet the timekeeper is deliberate in its largeness: after all, its main point is to attract attention to its owner and that it does perfectly.
Priced at $34,000 and limited to only 25 units, the timekeeper has a solid, heavy appearance about it making one proud of owning such an exclusive piece of work.
Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Silicon Escapement (ref. 105920) specification
Price: $34,800 (MSRP)
Movement: Montblanc Calibre MB R120, hand-wound, 18,000 vph, a silicon escapement, twin barrels, Swiss Made
Complications: Chronograph, date, power reserve
Power reserve: 72 hours
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire
Size: 43.00 mm
Height: 14.60 mm
Dial: White, partly skeletonized, three-dimensional
Strap: Brown leather
Crystal: Sapphire, AR-coated
Water resistance: 30 meters