Two Grand Traditions
The Minerva Manufacture, which is the direct ancestor of the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret, fabricated in 1923 one of the first chronograph calibres for wristwatches and thus paved the way for the success of mechanical wristwatch chronographs. Equipped with pulsometer scales, these precise measurers of brief intervals were especially popular among physicians. Calibrated for 30 pulse beats, a pulsometer scale enables a doctor to read the pulse rate per minute without having to continue feeling the patient’s pulse for a full sixty seconds. These watches were animated by the noteworthy Minerva Calibre 13.20, which was first encased in 1923 – i.e. almost simultaneously with the Montblanc Meisterstück fountain pen 149.
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph continues this horological tradition. Its chronograph movement (Montblanc Calibre MB M13.21) is inspired by Minerva Calibre 13.20. Like its predecessor, the contemporary movement is manually fabricated and finely adjusted in accord with the principles of the traditional art of Swiss watchmaking. In combination with authentic Meisterstück design, the Heritage Pulsograph thus embodies two grand traditions.
The pulsometer scale of the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is positioned along the periphery of the dial. This logarithmic scale is calibrated for 30 pulse beats (GRADUÉ POUR 30 PULSATIONS) with subdivisions for each tenth and fifth pulsation along a railroad-style track. This scale concentrically surrounds the chronograph’s elapsed-seconds scale, which is subdivided into fifths of a second to correspond with the balance’s frequency of 2.5 hertz. Slender black index strokes alternate with red Arabic numerals at five-minute intervals. The chronograph’s elapsed-time hands are crafted from blued steel: the large trotteuse culminates in a red tip and the small hand on the elapsed-minutes subdial bears an arrowhead. The latter is an allusion to the logo of the former Minerva Manufacture. Closer to the dial’s centre lies the minute scale with tidy black dots, hour indices in the form of sharply faceted gold-plated appliqués, and applied goldplated Roman numerals “XII” and “VI”. Styled to harmonize with the gold-plated dauphine hour-hand and minute-hand, these numerals form a chromatic unity with the elegant 18 karat rose gold case.
Classical Chronographic Mechanisms – Fabricated by Hand
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is animated by chronograph Calibre MB M13.21, which embodies all the distinguishing features of classical chronograph mechanisms and the traditional watchmaker’s art. It functions with a column-wheel and horizontal gear coupling. As a monopusher construction, it has a three-phase control which sequentially triggers the start, stop and zero-return commands. When the lone button is pressed, it activates a series of levers, each of which is painstakingly manually embellished. All levers and springs are polished on their flat surfaces, satin-finished on their sides, and manually bevelled along their edges. All functional planes are individually and manually adjusted in each movement to maximize the smoothness and reliability with which the button triggers the commands. Similarly luxurious finishing has been lavished on all other components of the movement. The plate and bridges are fabricated from rhodium-plated nickel silver; the bridges are bevelled by hand, and these chamfered surfaces are then manually polished. Classical Geneva waves embellish the planar surfaces. The V-shaped chronograph-bridge is an eye-catching and characteristic feature: inspired by its counterpart in Minerva’s legendary chronograph Calibre 13.20, its inner angles are a symbol of traditional horological craftsmanship that no machine, no matter how modern it may be, could possibly imitate. The bridge proudly bears the name “Minerva Villeret”. The pale silver-grey hue of the movement’s chassis contrasts with red jewels and a large massy screw balance that oscillates at the classical pace of 2.5 hertz. Both the balance and the hairspring, which culminates in a Philips terminal curvature, are manufactured and manually adjusted inhouse. The balance’s frequency (18,000 A/h) demands meticulous fine adjustment, but rewards this labour by accurately timing elapsed intervals to the nearest fifth of a second. The movement draws its energy from a large barrel: with circularly grained inner surfaces, the barrel is elaborately decorated even in places that ordinarily remain unseen – further proof that this calibre embodies definitive horological craftsmanship.
The positioning of the chronograph’s sole button at “2 o’clock” shows that this timepiece is a high-quality monopusher chronograph. Its handmade movement can be viewed by peering through a pane of sapphire crystal in the back of the case. Both surfaces of this crystal have been specially treated to prevent glare and reflections.
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph will be available in an elegant 41-mm case made of 18 karat rose gold. A Montblanc diamond, cut and polished to form the emblem of the maison, is inset into the middle piece of the case at “6 o’clock”. As a valuable but unostentatious symbol, it shows that this watch is equipped with a manufacture calibre.
The watch is worn on a black alligator-skin strap with large reptilian scales. The wristband culminates in a rose gold pronged buckle. The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph will be launched in a limited edition of 90 timepieces. The limitation to 90 watches pays homage to the year nine decades ago when the Meisterstück fountain pen was born (1924) and to the pen’s 90th anniversary, which it celebrates in 2014.