November 8, 2008
by Ariel Adams
In Villeret Montblanc is feeling very proud of itself. It has gone from making pens, to being a preeminent watch maker. The recent acquisition of popular family owned (previously) Minerva gained Montblanc that ability to tout in-house movements. So now their watches look nice and have lots of bragging rights. While I enjoy some Montblanc watch designs more than others, I can’t argue that any of their recent releases are anything less than elegant and well conceived.
In celebration of Minerva turning 150 years old, we have the Montblanc Grand Tourbillon Heures Mysterieuses (that is the most uncomfortable way of writing mysterious if English is your native tongue!). Inside is an in-house Minerva movement (of course) caliber MBM65.60 with a manual-wind 1 minute tourbillon (the tourbillon functions as the seconds counter and makes a full revolution each minute), 26 jewels beating at 18,000 bph, and with a power reserve of 50 hours. Not too shabby, and it is nice to look at. The tourbillon is pretty basic by today’s standards, but the bridge is nice to look at and for me, functions as the bow-tie of this tuxedo look.
So look at the 47mm wide by 14.4mm thick case done in platinum (one piece) or white gold (limited edition), and tell me that it does not look like a watch in a tuxedo. The textured black area resembles a vest tapering in around a white-ish shirt with a big bow-tie at the top. That is just what I see when I look at it. I like how the watch is not too heavy on the branding, but the Montblanc name is much more prominent than “Minerva” which is faintly located off to the upper corner. At least it says Minerva on the Minerva anniversary watch right? The fact that they are raised and appear to float over a mirror polished surfaces as style to this little trick.
So lets get to the Mysterieuses part. Basically, when the word ‘mystery’ or any synonym for it is placed in a watch name, it means there is something that moves the hands that is hidden. That is all. Here, the central points of the hands don’t appear to be attached to anything. They aren’t. The hands are actually attached to the rings that they appear to revolve around. Thus creating the illusion that the hands are moving on their own. See what I mean? You can’t help but appreciate the sober festive look of this solid gold dialed watch. So much emphasis is placed on the tourbillon, it is almost amusing; as though Montblanc is shouting “yes we can!” (build a tourbillon that is). A few years ago it used to be a big feat for a watch maker to build an in-house tourbillon. Now it is almost an obligation. Here is Montblanc traveling down this necessary road.
See Montblanc and Minerva watches on eBay here.