Watches: Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on January 29, 2015

The Collection Villeret 1858, Montblanc’s Haute Horlogerie offer, is getting better and better with every timepiece introduced by these exceptionally skilled watchmakers. The unique artisanal structure and immense traditional craftsmanship of this small Manufacture makes it possible to unveil stunning tributes to the fine art of watchmaking and the latest addition to the line, the Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama, showcases another unprecedented combination of complications and displays in homage to one of the greatest explorers of all time: Vasco da Gama.

On board the carrack Sao Gabriel, the Portuguese explorer was the first European to reach India by sea at the end of the Fifteenth Century and all his expeditions helped fortify Portugal’s predominance as a seafaring and trading nation. This year, Montblanc has decided to honour the first European to establish a safe way to travel between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres with a series of four beautiful timepieces with varying degrees of complexity. I will, of course, review them all on Watch Agora with live pictures and videos but for today, let us focus on the flagship model, the impressive Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama!

Impressive is definitely not too strong a qualifying adjective to describe this 3-dimensional marvel powered by the hand-wound MB68.40 entirely designed, developed and manufactured in Villeret by the brand. This 38.40 x 10.50 mm movement features a one-minute tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring with double Philips terminal curves produced by Montblanc! Few Manufactures have the technical know-how to fabricate their own balance wheels and hairsprings nowadays and the achievement becomes even greater with a cylindrical hairspring instead of the more conventional flat one. This concentrically wound strip of elastic metal eliminates the slight eccentricity of the centre of gravity (the classic Achille’s heel of a conventional balance-spring) and enhances the precision of the tourbillon mechanism.

In addition to this prestigious regulating organ and, making perfect sense for a timepiece in tribute to an explorer, the Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama offers an original triple time zone indication. Indeed, the local time is traditionally displayed by the central hours and minutes hands while the home time is provided by a continually running and independently adjustable three-dimensional twelve-hour compass rose at the 6 o’clock position. In addition, a pair of domes depicts the World’s 24 time zones in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, along with the passage of days and nights.

With the use of engraving and miniature painting, these two motionless halved balls display the outlines of the continents and the oceans that separate them as well as the circles of longitude and latitude. Around them, two 24-hour world time indicators with day-night markings rotate once per day, clockwise for the Northern Hemisphere and anti-clockwise for the Southern counterpart. They can be used together with the meridians of longitude to determine the current time in any part of the world.

Together with the compass rose at 6 o’clock, they also provide a breathtaking show on the lower part of the dial and proudly demonstrate Montblanc’s decorative skills. Although the stunning Hemispheres capture all our attention, let me mention here that the watch’s compass rose, composed of four elements and entirely hand-made and manually decorated, is equally beautiful. It is inspired by the gigantic marble compass rose at the base of the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, the famous monument in Lisbon celebrating all the Portuguese discoverers.

The upper part of the dial dedicated to the tourbillon also boasts magnificent decorations. The plate received a manually executed wave-patterned guilloché work inspired by Vasco da Gama’s voyage across the world’s oceans and for the very first time the tourbillon bridge departs from its planar shape. It acquires a convex form in harmony with the two domes representing the Hemispheres. It retains the distinctive twisted shape and immaculate polished finish of Montblanc’s tourbillon bridges and requires no less than seven days of hard work by a skilled artisan.

This exceptional timepiece comes in a perfectly polished 47.00 x 15.38 mm case in red gold mounted on black alligator and secured by a folding buckle in the same material as the case. It is strictly limited to 18 pieces and retails at EUR 250,000 plus VAT. This is certainly not in everyone’s budget but if you are lucky enough to be able to afford this type of toys, the Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama would definitely be a magnificent addition to your collection. In any case, it places Montblanc at the very upper ladder of the Fine Watchmaking world!

For more information please visit the Montblanc web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: