High Seas Horology: Montblanc’s Régulateur Nautique
Written by Mark Bernardo,
A skeletonized hour hand inside a subdial at 12 o’clock indicates the local time; beneath it, another hand indicates the home time (i.e. the time in one’s harbor of departure). When the watch is in its wearer’s home time zone, the former is always directly above the latter; when the wearer travels to a different time zone, he presses the button at 10 o’clock to reposition the local hour hand in hourly increments until it shows the correct time for the new zone. Another subdial at 1 o’clock offers a 24-hour display of the home time and the day/night display. Running seconds are at 9 o’clock.
The chronograph in the watch is a monopusher, with a central elapsed-seconds hand and a counter for 30 elapsed minutes at 3 o’clock. The manufacture movement, Caliber MB M16.30, has a column wheel and horizontal coupling. The chronograph’s levers are meticulously handcrafted and painstakingly hand-abraded to the nearest 1/100-millimeter. The steel components and the typical Minerva V-shaped chronograph bridge are manually beveled and polished. The bridges are hand-embellished with Geneva waves. The balance beats at 18,000 vph, enabling the stopwatch to measure precise intervals to 1/5-second.
The clock’s large, regulator-style dial, patterned after that of the watch, provides not only two but three time zones: the time at the harbor of departure on a 24-hour subdial at 9 o’clock; the time in the port of destination on another 24-hour subdial at 3 o’clock; and the current local time on the main dial. As on the wristwatch, there is a combined power-reserve and winding-zone display. In addition, the clock features a world-time function, with a 24-hour scale and the names of 24 yacht harbor names inscribed below the cardanic suspension, visible only from the side and bathed in blue LED illumination. The owner can even customize the harbor names: for example, a Red Sox fan can choose to use Boston, rather than New York, to represent Eastern Standard Time.
To build the clock, Montblanc teamed up with the renowned Erwin Sattler clock manufacture in Germany, which crafted its golden gears in a laborious multistage method that calls for each tooth to be individually and sequentially milled from the solid brass blank. Each wheel required multiple finishing steps, including deburring, polishing its surfaces and the flanks of its teeth, and plating with gold, which protects it against corrosion and reduces friction. The huge barrel and lengthy mainspring provide the clock a 360-hour power reserve. A so-called “fuseau transmission,” which transfers energy to the first wheel in the gear train via a cable wrapped around a conically shaped fusee, compensates for the decline of torque in the mainspring. Transmission of energy is regulated by means of a Swiss lever escapement and a screw balance with a blued hairspring. The balance is visible through an aperture in the dial at 1 o’clock.
Sixteen clocks will be made, paired with the 16 watches. The cost for one of these nautical objets d’art is $385,700. They will be available at Montblanc boutiques and select jewelers beginning in June.