A frequent motif on early 20th century fountain pens, typically forming a serpentine clip or in the form of a metal overlay on the pen body, the snake is the principal theme of Montblanc’s 110 Years Anniversary collection, a line-up that includes watches, pens and leather goods. The flagship anniversary product is the Collection Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary, featuring a very large tourbillon regulator and equally large serpent coiled around the dial.
The snake theme originates with the Rouge et Noir series of pens introduced in 1909, the very first pens made by Montblanc. Named after Stendhal’s novel about an ambitious young man’s rise and fall, the Rouge et Noir pens were available with the option of a slip-on snake pocket clip, like other pens of the time. Though not unique to Montblanc, the snake clip is synonymous with the brand today because of the successful Agatha Christie limited edition pen of 1993 that had the same serpentine clip.
Consequently the snake has slithered its way into all of Montblanc’s 110th anniversary collection, including the hand-engraved, anthracite-coloured serpent that frames the dial of the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique. Made by Minerva, the high-end watchmaking workshop of Montblanc, the watch gets its name from the double cylinder-shaped hairsprings of the tourbillon, one sitting inside the other. Each hairspring breathes opposite to the other, giving the oscillator better symmetry and concentricity. Consequently, the balance has better isochronism, beating in the same manner regardless of the position of the watch or its power reserve.
The other notable feature is the mystery time display: the hour and minute hands are metal arrows deposited onto clear sapphire discs, leaving them floating in midair, suspending over the mirrored base of the dial. Like all mysterious time displays, the sapphire discs have toothed rims which are connected to gears that drive them. Because the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique has an open-worked dial, the mystery display mechanism is visible, taking away the mystery but offering a clear view of the novel mechanism. And like all other movements made by Minerva, the calibre is finished by hand in a traditional manner to a high standard, some exemplified by the slim, polished and rounded tourbillon bridge.
The Collection Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary is a limited edition of three watches, with a price tag of €280,000, equivalent to US$315,000. Fortunately the 110 Years Anniversary collection also includes more affordable items, including a series of snake pens as well as accessories like tie clips and cufflinks. And the range also includes a one-off steamer bag with painted decoration.
The 110th anniversary pen line-up is diverse, with the most basic being the Heritage Collection Rouge et Noir in black or coral-coloured resin and lacquer. These start at US$410 for the ballpoint pen in black, rising to US$780 for the coral fountain pen.
Looking very similar is the Heritage Collection Rouge et Noir Limited Edition 1906 – identical in design to the resin model but made of matte black ebonite (vulcanised rubber), with rubies set into the eyes of the snake. This is limited to 1906 pieces each for the fountain pen and rollerball, priced at US$1825 and US$1620 respectively.
There are additional limited edition pens featuring with solid gold snake overlays, including a one-off pen with a rose gold overlay set with diamonds priced at €1.2 million.
Cufflinks start at US$440 for the sterling silver pair; solid gold versions are also available.Back to top.
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