A little history lesson…
On July 8, 1497 Vasco da Gama set sail with a small fleet of four ships. The goal was to reach the coast of India. Until then, spices as well as precious stones, were transported overland, via Arabian, Persian, Turkish and Venetian middlemen, who made it extremely expensive to import anything from the East. If Vasco da Gama could succeed in finding a southern sea passage to India, bypassing the land route, it would have meant a tremendous trade advantage for Portugal.
Commercial sailing in the 15th century was an entirely different venture from what we experience today. The only navigational tools were a so-called nocturlabium and a Jacob’s staff. The sextant was not yet invented, and they were largely sailing on uncharted waters. The only accurate map was the starry night, and above all the Southern Cross, a small but very distinctive and easily recognizable constellation. With four stars it forms a sort of a celestial crucifix, which is portrayed on the two Heritage Chronométrie Annual Calendar Vasco da Gama watches.
Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Annuel Vasco da Gama Limited Editions
The Vasco da Gama version of Montblanc’s new Annual Calendars all have a deep blue circle around the moon phase indication, which depicts the starry firmament in the Southern Hemisphere, including the aforementioned Southern Cross constellation. Other indications on the dial are the month (at 12 o’clock), the date (at 3) and the day of the week (at the nine o’clock position).
As is always the case with an annual calendar, only one correction per annum is needed, which is at the end of February. The calendar mechanism “knows” the length of each month, and automatically switches to the first of the next month at either the 30th or 31st of the month. However, as February usually has 28 days, and 29 days in a leap year, this is a divergence the annual calendar does not detect automatically, and so it has to be corrected by hand.
The Vasco da Gama comes in an 18K red limited edition of 238 pieces, and a stainless steel version of 316 pieces. The gold version has a retail price of € 11,050 Euro, and the steel comes at a price of €6,650 Euro.
Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Annuel Non-Limited Editions
There’s also a non-limited edition in stainless steel, without the blue starry night surrounding the moon phase indication. It has a strong resemblance to the Annual Calendar that was presented last year, but it comes without a leap year indication. This non-limited edition in steel retails at €6,500 Euro.
Like the Dual Time we presented this past Monday, its lines are beautifully shaped. The case has classic proportions, with a diameter of 40 mm and is just 9.55 mm thick. The downward sloping lugs are slightly angled and, like the entire case, fully polished. Only the bezel’s edge is satin finished.
- Case: 18K red gold or stainless steel, 40 mm in diameter and 9.55 mm in height, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, correctors for each calendar function in the caseband, caseback with inset pane of sapphire crystal (for the Vasco da Gama limited editions with the Vasco da Gama’s Flagship São Gabriel and his signature)
- Movement: caliber MB 29.18 (Selitta SW200 base with annual calendar module), 42 hours of power reserve, 25 jewels, 28,800 vph (4Hz)
- Strap: black alligator strap made by Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence with pin buckle in the same metal as the case.