Vasco da Gama was one of the most brilliant captains of his time, undertaking what was in his time the longest-ever ocean voyage in order to connect Portugal with India entirely by sea, thus bringing enormous benefits for the lucrative spice trade and helping Portugal expand its empire. The Southern Cross constellation played an important part in Vasco da Gama’s expeditions, acting as the principal focus of the explorer’s night-time navigation using a nocturlabium, or “nocturnal”.
The latest collection unveiled by Montblanc at this year’s SIHH is dedicated to the exploits of this legendary explorer and features both the Southern Cross and engravings of the vessels he sailed on as part of the design of the four models that make up this new line in the brand’s Heritage Chronometrie range.
The first model in the collection is the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Dual-Time, this specific watch, entirely designed and constructed at the Montblanc watchmaking workshops, comes in a steel case with a contemporary diameter of 41 mm. In its silver sun-brushed dial, set in applied manner, line indexes along with a bold 12 indicate the time along with spade hands allowing for a small seconds sub-dial at six o’clock and a second time zone sub-dial at 12 o’clock with AM/PM indicator and a date window at three o’clock. It is powered by the Montblanc automatic Calibre MB 29.19, which has an in-house module for the dual time zone indication.
Next in line is a Complete Calendar complication with a 40mm stainless-steel case with a silvered white dial with applied Arabic numerals and a date scale around the perimeter. Two separate windows at 12 o’clock clearly indicate the day of the week and the month, while a coaxial hand with a red C tip shows the date. At six o’clock, a moon phase aperture shows the age of the Earth’s satellite along with a painted depiction of the Southern Cross constellation in elegant lacquer. The movement used in this particular rendition is a mechanical automatic Calibre MB 29.16 with an in-house module for the complete calendar, which is programmed for 31 days in each month, meaning that a correction is only required for months shorter than 31 days.
A step up in technical terms, Montblanc has produced in a limited edition of 238 pieces an annual calendar piece called the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Annual Calendar Vasco da Gama. The 40 mm case, in 18-carat red gold, has three sub-dials for the indication of month, date and day of the week, while an aperture at six o’clock is reserved for the indication of the moon phase along with a Southern Cross depiction in lacquer. The Annual Calendar complication recognizes the different 30/31 days rule in months and only requires one adjustment at the end of February by means of an external pusher. The mechanical automatic movement used in this Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Annual Calendar Vasco da Gama is the Caliber MB 29.18 with an exclusive Montblanc module, designed and constructed in house. The solid gold back of the watch has a design of the Nao Sao Gabriel that Vasco da Gama captained during his epic Voyage to India.
The piece of resistance in the collection is the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie ExoTourbillon Chronograph Vasco da Gama, built in only 60 pieces due to its complexity and details. It is housed in an 18-carat white-gold case of 44 mm diameter, with a dial made of aventurine. While the date is indicated centrally using a red crescent-tipped hand, two dissected sub-dials with double-edged hands indicate the elapsed time of the chronograph function (which is activated by a single pusher at eight o’clock). The lower half leaves space for one of Montblanc’s specialties, the one-minute ExoTourbillon which brings the balance up to level with the dial for an additional visual experience.
In addition to the handy monopusher chronograph function, this piece also allows the date to be adjusted both forwards and backwards using the crown. Its superior status is indicated by a diamond in the exclusive Montblanc Star cut at 12 o’clock and an engraving of the Nao Sao Gabriel etched into the sapphire crystal case back.