Montblanc presents the chronograph in its seminal form and makes it state of the art with a silicon escapement. Nicolas Rieussec registered the world’s first chronograph for a patent on in 1822. That first “timewriter” is reflected here with disks that turn beneath motionless hands, as the chronograph’s inventor intended. Rieussec sought the ultimate in accuracy and reliability, and this limited edition is true to that history with a movement in which the lever and escape wheel are fashioned from silicon.
This piece will please those who love history as well as those who want the latest in technical innovation. Like microprocessors for computers, certain movement components can be etched from paper-thin silicon wafers. The DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching) method combined with silicon’s inherent properties offer optimal conditions for manufacturing tiny movement components. Silicon is 60% harder and 70% lighter than steel, highly resistant to corrosion and entirely nonmagnetic. When silicon is processed by the DRIE method, the resulting surfaces need no further processing because they’re already absolutely smooth and scratch resistant. These attributes significantly improve a watch’s rate and long-term reliability. The lever and escape-wheel must be alternately accelerated and halted 28,800 times each hour. This makes it clear how important it is to reduce the masses of these components. In a watch with lever and escape wheel made of steel, the escapement alone absorbs more than 60% of the energy. Reducing the mass by 70% means that the escapement requires significantly less energy, so more power is available to maintain the stability of the balance’s amplitude and to lengthen the power reserve. And silicon’s inherent hardness reduces wear and improves long-term reliability.
This hand-wound movement indicates the hours and the minutes, displays the current date via a rotating disc and a motionless hand, and indicates the chronograph’s functions on a counter for 60 elapsed seconds at the 7 o’clock position and a counter for 30 elapsed minutes at 4 o’clock. The chronograph is operated by pressing a pusher in the flank of the case at the “8”: this button acts via a column wheel to trigger the start, stop and return-to-zero functions. The nearly wear-free vertical coupling allows the chronograph to remain permanently switched on, if desired. The remaining power reserve is displayed on the back side of the watch, where it can be viewed through the sapphire crystal.
The 43mm case is 18K red gold. The knurled red-gold crown bears the Montblanc emblem. Montblanc’s first wristwatch with silicon components will be available in October in a strictly limited series of 25 individually numbered pieces. The European MSRP is 28,000 euros.