For ‘Watches and Wonders’ in Hong Kong this year, Mont Blanc has released the Villeret 1858 ExoTourbillon Rattrapante – this watch manufacturer’s latest success in the world of Haute Horlogerie. The name Villeret pays tribute to the small Swiss town of the same name, which lies in the Jura region in the Canton of Bern. Mont Blanc’s current watch factory was first built right there in 1858. This masterpiece is being produced to just 18 examples worldwide, and will probably only be available at select Mont Blanc boutiques.
The Mont Blanc Villeret 1858 ExoTourbillon Rattrapante is sculpted from 18kt white gold. The diameter of the case stands at 47mm, while the case height is a very thick 17.5mm. All in all, this release from Mont Blanc carries hefty dimensions. This is perfect because the Regulator style layout of the dial needs space to be legible. The case is polished and features pushers at the 2 and 8 positions. The main crown is prominent allowing for the uncomplicated winding of the watch, and carries an integrated chronograph pusher.
The dial is silvered and carries the expertly crafted ExoTourbillon at the 12 position. The ExoTourbillon is patented as it carries a couple fundamental differences from regular tourbillons. The ExoTourbillon rotates once every 4 minutes, whereas regular tourbillons rotate about their axes once every minute. The reduced speed of the rotations allows this tourbillon to be free of the carriage, which reduces the mass. With the reduced mass and slower rotation, this tourbillon uses 30% less energy than conventional models. The balance wheel is normally attached to the tourbillon but in the ExoTourbillon is separate, thus the amplitude is increased in the balance wheel making for greater precision.
The higher degree of alternations from the balance wheel benefits the Rattrapante complication, as this allows smaller intervals of seconds to be timed. A Rattrapante, also known as a double chronograph, allows two separate events to be timed simultaneously. The Rattrapante function is fitted with two column wheels, one for each of the timing functions. This double chronograph can time events up to 30 minutes, which can be found at the 3 o’clock position.
At the 6 position is the main subdial, which displays the hours and minutes indicated using blued steel hands. The markers used are rendered in Roman numerals, which add a very classic feel to this timepiece. The continuous seconds subdial is located at the 9 position. A large, central, skeletonized, blued steel hand is used to indicate a second time zone, while a thinner central hand indicates the chronograph seconds. At 4:30, there is a day/night indicator, though subtle, breaks the perfect symmetry of the dial. Protecting the dial is a domed sapphire crystal, chosen due to its scratch resistant properties. The case back is also fitted with a sapphire crystal used to evince this aesthetically pleasing and highly functional movement.
The Villeret 1858 ExoTourbillon Rattrapante is outfitted with a black alligator leather strap, secured by a folding clasp made entirely from 18kt white gold. This timepiece is water resistant to 30 meters (3 ATM).