A watch is a bit like an iceberg: what you see on top is just a small part, and under the surface there is a vast amount of design, experience and technology. Montblanc’s Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph offers the perfect example. It is powered by the new MB R230 movement, designed and built at the Villeret manufacture, which has 157 years of tradition behind it, and a massive technical heritage: for example, it is one of the few manufactures capable of making the tiny balance spring that lies at the heart of every mechanical watch.
In this piece, the monopusher chronograph function has been added to the ExoTourbillon, originally created in 2010. A tourbillon improves precision by compensating for the effects of gravity on the balance wheel, and the ExoTourbillon is a Montblanc speciality in which the cage that normally encloses the balance has been separated and placed underneath, reducing the weight of the cage and making the balance more visible. The tourbillon is given pride of place at the bottom of the dial. Just above, the two chronograph subdials have a very effective design, with semicircular scales and hands of different lengths so that they correspond to the respective scales. The date is shown on a circular scale, at the centre of which are the hour and minute hands, in a vertically offset position. Other innovative features include the stop-second function for precision setting, and the single pusher on the left side of the case, which cycles through chronograph start, stop and reset functions. It is a superb piece, and – considering its complexity and finish – it has a very attractive price.
Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie ExoTourbillon
The Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio 52 mm is a perfect example of the brand’s colourful history. It is a re-edition of a 1943 chronograph that Panerai, at that time based in Florence, supplied to the Royal Italian Navy, and it mirrors the unique appearance of the historical piece – above all its massive size, 52 mm in diameter – while incorporating contemporary technology. The case is in titanium, much lighter than the original steel, and it houses a new hand-wound manufacture movement, the OP XXV calibre.
Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio 52mm
IWC Schaffhausen followed the same sort of approach with the 75th anniversary edition of the Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days, one of the first versions of the original Portugieser dating to 1940. The dial looks very similar to the historical precedent, with the old-style International Watch Co. logo, the stylised numerals, and the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. New features comprise a small date window at the bottom edge of the dial, the lovely Santoni strap with orange lining, and the fabulous calibre 59215 movement visible through the sapphire caseback. A beautiful piece, available in two limited editions, in red gold and stainless steel.
the 75th edition of the Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days by IWC Schaffausen
At first sight, Omega’s Speedmaster Silver Snoopy looks like a classic chronograph with depictions of the world’s favourite dog, dozing on the small seconds subdial on the front and floating through space on the caseback. But it is a watch that expresses a small portion of the brand’s huge heritage, running back to 1848, and the more you look at it, the more you discover. The first 14 seconds of the chapter ring are accompanied by the lettering ‘What can you do in 14 seconds?’ which refers to the Apollo 13 emergency, when astronaut Jack Swigert used his Speedmaster to time a 14-second engine ignition that helped get the damaged spacecraft back to earth. At the centre of the dial, Snoopy is dreaming the words ‘Failure is not an option,’ a quote from the Apollo 13 movie. The caseback is designed to resemble the Silver Snoopy Award, designed by Charles Schulz, and given to individuals who made a notable contribution to the Apollo space programme. After Apollo 13, it was awarded to Omega. It’s a lovely, eminently collectable piece.
Speedmaster Silver Snoopy by Omega