Conceived as a line of classically styled, affordable watches with modest complications, Montblanc’s Heritage Chronométrie recently got a facelift (starting with the open-worked perpetual calendar) that gave the watches a sleeker, sharper look.
Now it’s the turn of the Exo Tourbillon, which despite the exotic name, is actually an entry-level tourbillon wristwatch, albeit with an 18k white gold case that probably nudges the price upwards. Two versions are available, both powered by the same calibre. The simpler, and more affordable, of the two is the Heritage Chronométrie Exo Tourbillon Slim.
At 40mm wide and 8.9mm tall, the new Exo Tourbillon is elegantly proportioned, being wide but relatively flat. The lugs are narrow, with a subtle bevel along their length, emphasising their slimness.
The dial is clean and handsome in grey, finished with a vertical brushing and ringed by a metallic blue chapter ring for the minutes. Legibility is helped by the apple hour markers and two-tone hands. It’s a fuss-free but still attractive.
The tourbillon sits in an aperture at six o’clock, looking slightly small for the size of the watch. That’s despite the fact that the Exo Tourbillon construction frees the balance wheel from the tourbillon cage, allowing it to be larger than otherwise possible. Instead, the cage sits under the balance wheel, almost like a platform.
From the back the view is clean, thanks to two large bridges that cover almost the entirely movement. Fortunately they have been dressed up, with a spiral striping as well as blued steel screws. The edges of the bridges and countersinks are also polished. Though the decoration is all done by machine, a necessary condition of the accessible price, the movement is visually appealing.
The Heritage Chronométrie Exo Tourbillon Slim Openworked, on the other hand, is fancier, but also more expensive. Though priced at about 20% over the model above, this is worth the added cost just because it is a lot more interesting. As entry-level tourbillons go, this is one of the most striking.
Essentially the skeletonised version of the preceding watch, this Exo Tourbillon has its bridges open-worked in an unusual, geometric style.
While skeleton watches often suffer from being hard to read, the blued steel hands stand out against the brushed grey base plate, giving this watch a surprising degree of legibility. Attention has also been paid to consistency in the two-tone blue and grey colour scheme, such that the balance wheel has been plated grey instead of the usual gold (though it would have been perfect if the gilded shock absorber for the balance staff was silver or grey as well).
The open-working takes its cues from dazzle camouflage, irregular patterns painted on naval vessels during the First World War that were mean to confuse the enemy by distorting the ship’s direction, range and speed. While the relationship between this wristwatch and naval disguise is odd, it makes for an intriguing look.
All of the skeleton work is clean and angular, not artisanal but neatly executed. And it’s thorough, revealing the mainspring and keyless works. Especially notable are the angular spokes of the gears, which echo the skeletonisation of the bridges.
The bridges on the back are less open-worked than on the front, instead having several recessed portions finished with a grained surface to continue the motif.
And unlike on the front, the countersinks as well as the larger and outer edges of the bridges have polished bevels, though of the mechanically finished type.
Both Exo Tourbillon watches are affordable within the category of tourbillon wristwatches in 18k gold cases, though not quite entry-level in absolute terms. While other Heritage Chronométrie complications are offered in steel cases, this pair of tourbillons is not, at least for now. A steel case would perhaps shave a third off the retail price of either model.
That being said, word on the street is that the Heritage Chronométrie will be further expanded next year, which might make for some compelling watches at SIHH 2019.
Price and availability
The Heritage Chronométrie Exo Tourbillon Slim (ref. 118471) is priced at €33,500, or S$47,100. That’s about US$34,000.
And Heritage Chronométrie Exo Tourbillon Slim Openworked (ref. 118512) is €39,700, or S$55,800, equivalent to US$41,000.
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