Montblanc Adds Sparkle to its Entry-Level ExoTourbillon Chronograph (Review, Photos & Price)


Montblanc gives a bit of flash to the Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph with the new Vasco da Gama limited edition set with diamonds. 

In the world of tourbillon chronographs the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph is the most affordable yet. Unusual for its unique tourbillon that separates the cage and the balance wheel, it still costs €39,500 for the basic model, but that’s half as much as the competition. At the recent Watches&Wonders 2015 fair in Hong Kong Montblanc debuted the jazzed-up version of the Heritage Chronométrie tourbillon chronograph, a 25-piece limited edition set with diamonds dedicated to Vasco da Gama. The Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph is based on the self-winding chronograph movement found in the Nicolas Rieussec chronographs, one of the brand’s signature timepieces. It retains the same twin chronograph registers, but with hands instead of the discs that distinguish the Rieussec chronographs. The seconds are on the left counter while the minutes are at right.

The unique, dispossessed tourbillon What makes the Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph unusual is its tourbillon regulator, one that’s constructed totally differently from conventional tourbillons. Named the ExoTourbillon, the regulator was originally conceived for the pricey Villeret 1858 timepieces, including the €250,000 ExoTourbillon Rattrapante.

The cage visible below the gilded balance wheel, with the red-tipped arrow as the seconds hand

Ordinary tourbillons have the balance inside a rotating cage, the ExoTourbillon separates the two, with the cage sitting below the balance wheel. That construction means that the cage can be smaller, requiring less energy to turn, making the movement more efficient. And it also means the balance wheel can be larger, giving it greater inertia and stability. Another unusual feature is the stop-seconds mechanism: a tiny lever presses against the balance wheel when the crown is pulled, stopping the balance and the seconds hand for more precise time-setting. Time-setting is also made more convenient with the independent adjustable hour hand that can be set in one hour increments when crossing timezones. Setting the hour hand does not affect the synchronisation of the minute and seconds, ensuring their accuracy.

To the right of the balance is the stop-seconds lever

The twinkling night sky The limited edition Vasco da Gama tourbillon chronograph is fitted with a dial made of aventurine, a quartz crystal with tiny, sparkling mineral inclusions, giving the dial the look of the night sky. A diamond shaped like the Montblanc logo – its cut is a Montblanc patent – is the 12 o’clock marker, while just below the date is indicated on a small sub-dial finished with a radial wave guilloche. 

On the back, the sapphire crystal is printed with a stylised rendering of the São Gabriel, the flagship of Vasco da Gama, the 15th century Portuguese explorer Montblanc has adopted as an emblem. That’s a nod to the spirit of exploration, and also a catchy appellation for its timepieces.

The movement decoration is adequate for the price point. As expected, it is all mechanically applied, but nonetheless good enough to be visually appealing. The arrow-shaped tourbillon bridge for instance has bevelled edges as well as countersinks for the screws and jewel.

The case is the same 44mm style for all editions of the Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph. It’s large, but not overly so by modern standards. Both limited edition models are in white gold, while the regular production model is in rose gold.  Pricing and variants The Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama Diamonds Limited Edition 25  shown above is priced at € 52,500 (or S$83,100 in Singapore).  The version without diamonds is limited to 60 pieces, priced at €48,000 (or S$71,200). And the regular production model in rose gold is priced at €39,500 (or S$60,200).

Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph regular edition
Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama Limited Edition 60
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