Hosted by LMDM, Managing Director, Leon Mervis, General Manager, Randall Foote and Swiss Fine Watch Trainer and Consultant, Julien Miribel at Doltone House in Pyrmont, Sydney, Montblanc showcased their international 2015-2016 collections to key media and influencers during the Black and White Press Breakfast, earlier in July.
For the first time in Australia, guests were able to experience the much talked about Chronometrie exoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Vasco da Gama, the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum and the Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphe`res Vasco da Gama Limited edition to name a few.
From the finest european craftsmanship of the Montblanc Meisterstuck to the timeless and feminine Boheme collection, Montblanc prides itself on being the finest price in the luxury market.
The highlight of the event though was our one on one workshop with the master watchmaker himself. Ever wondered what inspires these creative minds? Julien Miribel spoke with Hours And Minutes on the day about the technical and intricate detailing behind the art of Montblanc’s fine watch making. Excerpts from the conversation…
We saw so much diversity in this years introductions at the SIHH. What sources of inspiration do you and your team draw to develop new introductions?
We start with the name of the collection and the topics. One of the topics for this year was chronometry, which means precision in French. We have shown this precision through the Vasco da Gama piece. We try to go in the direction after starting from the name. It is also important to remember that our choice is also an expression of our ambition and focus.
Coming to the Montblanc Heritage Chronome´trie ExoTourbillon….Could you tell us a little about the challenges faced placing the balance wheel and tourbillon bridge outside the cage. How does this impact the overall functioning of the timepiece?
The concept of the exoTourbillon was launched in one of the Villeret collections in 2009. We needed to create a different feeling about the tourbillion. The tourbillon is an old invention. every tourbillon has the same basic construction – the balance wheel is inside the cage and the cage makes a rotation. The goal was to bring something new and improve the accuracy. So, we have the concept that if we remove the weight of the balance wheel out of the cage, we may have better accuracy. When we did the prototyping, we saw that it was a little bit better than the regular tourbillon. It was a challenge as nobody had done this kind of a tourbillon before. But it’s always good to prove that we are innovative and we bring something new in terms of technique and aesthetic.
The Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphe`res Vasco da Gama. It is the first time you have integrated a cylindrical tourbillon and a functional world time indication… Also why was it crucial for Montblanc to develop an in-house cylindrical spring?
It is unique for a company to be able to develop its own cylindrical spring in-house. We have the machines and the knowledge to develop it. It is a question of challenge. We want to make all our movements from A to z. The cylindrical spring is very interesting. It was used to give precise time when people travelled by sea as the rate of accuracy is one of the best. It is an impressive spring. Few brands are using it. It is long and expensive to create your own spring. It is challenging to finalize the right size and dimension. But, we have used it here, in this masterpiece. We have matched the world timer with the cylindrical spring.
Your views on the increasing usage of non-precious materials like silicon in movements…
It is interesting to see that Montblanc can go for classical timepieces with in-house movements with traditional finishing, but with the launch of the e-strap we could also move into another direction and launch a different view of watchmaking. I think it is good to use different materials, techniques and designs. The watchmaking world is big and so lets try to propose different concepts.
What are the risks associated with a high frequency mechanical watch?
In watchmaking we always think that we can’t get more far or complicated, and we are always surprised to see new developments. The frequency of the watch should be useful to give better performance. Personally, my tastes are traditional. But, I like new developments; they are useful in terms of precision. The more the frequency, the less you have to power the balance wheel. If you compare precision of low frequency 18,000 and high frequency 26,000 the precision of the higher one will be better. But, with passage of time, let us say we rewind both these after ten years, the one with 18,000 frequency will have better precision. That’s why, for collectible pieces, we have a preferred frequency of 18,000.
We have a standard – minus 2 second and plus six second. We test it with a machine.
The Montblanc Laboratory Test 500…
After the watchmakers fit the watch, we want to be sure it is able to take the 500-hour test. This test simulates the lifecycle of a timepiece. The machine simulates all that a watch goes through. you can be assured that when a watch passes this 500-hour test, the quality and accuracy are the highest. All the tests are designed by us. The case back is engraved with “500”. All our main lines are covered by this. We believe that the customers deserve a perfectly functioning timepiece. Other tests like COSC are very expensive and can be quite subjective.
In other words, from a brand interpretation point of view, think of it as us monitoring you for 3 weeks in your every day life; when you sleep, when you run, go to the gym, at work, when you’re stressed etc. The machine simulates all these aspects. So when you actually go to the factory the tour guide says for example, these watches are sleeping, just woke up and so on. We can basically tell our customers that yes our master watchmakers have tested this top to bottom throughout your normal day, 24 hours a day, 500 hours listening to every heart beat, waiting for an irregularity. If an irregularity is spotted the process starts all over again.
Assembling a watch…
The complexity of the watch will ask for different times required to assemble the movement. you can spend more than three months to create a watch or even a week. The watchmaker has to ensure that all the parts one assembles work correctly and provides the right accuracy.
Is there a hierarchy of design goals at Montblanc Villeret such as accuracy, consistency, durability, reliability. What are Montblanc’s priorities?
It is not that one is more important than the other. To create a collection is a mix of many things. It is really the spirit of the designer, the watchmakers, developers of the calibres and the tests…. everyone will share their thoughts. The priority is to ensure that every part of the watch is creative, innovative and in-house.