This timepiece offers a full calendar. The anomalies of the Gregorian calendar ordinarily mean that a watch’s owner must occasionally reset the date, month and day of the week on his watch’s calendar, but this timepiece makes that intervention unnecessary for an entire year. The annual calendar mechanism, which francophone watchmakers call a “Quantième Annuel”, automatically “knows” the lengths of all months from March to January. The watch asks for special attention only on the last midnight in February. A manual correction is needed for the switch from the 28th or 29th of February to the 1st of March. This is easily accomplished with extracting and turning the crown. On all other days of the year, the watch provides accurate calendrical information via four subdials: one for the day (at “9 o’clock”), another for the month (at “12 o’clock”), a third for the date (at “3 o’clock”) and a fourth for the moon-phase display (at 6 o’clock). The last-mentioned indicator is embedded in a depiction of the starry firmament in the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross is readily visible, especially the delicate reddish colour of the star named Gamma in this distinctive constellation. If one looks closely, one can also see the Cross’s other three stars Alpha, Beta and Delta, along with other stars as they appeared to the Portuguese seafarers in 1497.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Annuel Vasco da Gama © Montblanc

To display the phases of the moon, the blue-lacquered constellation holds an aperture for a golden turning disc below featuring the moon in the night sky. Montblanc took great pains to emulate the heavens with the utmost fidelity. The annual calendar mechanism is encased in a 40-mm-diameter case that rises a mere 9.5 mm from back to front. The silvery white dial has a sunburst pattern; the gold-plated facetted indexes and the numeral “12” are applied to the dial. Two facetted gold-plated sword-shaped hands indicate the hours and minutes. The hands for the calendrical display are blued, thus harmonizing with the dark blue colour of the miniature firmament.

The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Annuel Vasco da Gama is naturally affiliated with Vasco da Gama’s floating flagship, the São Gabriel. A sketch of the historic sailing vessel is engraved on the pane of sapphire crystal in the case back, as is the signature of the discoverer and seafarer.

Back view of the watch. © Montblanc

The series is limited to 238 watches as an allusion to the “Cape Point Peak” lighthouse, which was built at precisely 238 meters above sea level at the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama sailed around this cape in the last days of November, 1497. The leather strap is made at the Montblanc Pelletteria, the Maison’s own leather manufacture in Florence, Italy.