2012/09/28 - Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 Regulateur Nautique Timepiece Set


Precise time measurement was first devised to enable ships’ captains to exactly determine their location at sea. Accurate knowledge of home and local time was essential to calculate the longitude with precision. Montblanc has paid tribute to the importance of early navigational timepieces by creating the new Régulateur Nautique set within the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858.

Each set comprises a white gold wristwatch chronograph and a large navigational clock. Only 8 exclusively limited sets will be produced and will be available as of July 2012. The function and the design of the wristwatch offer fascinating insights into the history of navigation on the high seas. The regulator dial with a central minute hand, a separate hours subdial at 12 o’clock and another displaying the seconds is an homage to the regulator pendulum clocks that stood in harbourmasters’ offices in all of the world’s major ports. A captain’s last task before leaving port was to synchronise his ship’s chronometer with the harbourmaster’s so that the precise time on his clock could be carried for the entire voyage. Classical navigational instruments could only enable a mariner to determine his geographic latitude between 90° North and 90° South, but not his geographic longitude. Knowing local time and time in the home port were prerequisites for calculating the precise longitude of a vessel.

The dial of the new Montblanc Régulateur features eight indicators showing home and local time, day and night, a chronograph, a 30-minute counter, small seconds, and a combined power reserve and winding zone display on more than half a dozen levels, symbolically representing the theme of depths and shallows in the sea. The dial has been partly skeletonised to reveal the exquisite circular graining decoration on the movement’s plate, above which the wheels of the movement can be admired.

Second Time Zone

Local time on the Régulateur Nautique is shown by means of a skeletonised hour hand inside a small hours circle at 12 o’clock, beneath which another hour hand indicates the vessel’s home time. When the wearer is in his home time zone, the skeletonised hour hand is always directly above the home time hand.

Monopusher Chronograph with a Column Wheel

In the best tradition of the Montblanc manufacture in Villeret, the wristwatch in the Régulateur set is a chronograph. The large elapsed seconds hand is at the centre of the dial and at 3 o’clock is a 30-minute counter for elapsed minutes. The chronograph mechanism has a classical column wheel with a horizontal coupling. Many parts of the chronograph are meticulously crafted and decorated by hand. The levers that operate the chronograph are delicately fashioned by hand to the nearest hundredth of a millimetre and the stopwatch functions are checked under a loupe. The edges of the steel components and Minerva’s typically v-shaped chronograph bridge are bevelled manually to enhance their visual appeal and the bridges are embellished with “Geneva waves”. The large balance wheel oscillates at the classical frequency of 18,000vph (semi-oscillations an hour) and this enables the chronograph to measure time intervals with precision to the nearest fifth of a second. The stopwatch function is activated by means of a button incorporated into the winding crown.

Power Reserve Display with Winding Indication

The large power reserve display in the lower half of the dial is an innovation in mechanical watchmaking: it uses two hands to provide important information about the running autonomy of the watch. Reliable navigation can only be achieved if a watch is wound regularly and never stops during the voyage. To ensure this watch is wound when necessary it features a combined power reserve and winding-zone indicator.

Watchmakers talk about three different states for the mainspring. In the normal state it has enough power to run the watch and maintain good timekeeping. In the “winding zone”, it can keep the movement running, but without enough power to ensure rate accuracy. In the third state, the mainspring has run down until the movement has stopped. The combined display in the Montblanc Régulateur Nautique chronograph distinguishes between the first two states and shows how many hours longer the movement will run before it has to be wound. In the normal state, the two hands are superimposed. When the remaining power is insufficient to maintain good amplitude, the red hand moves into the red zone, indicating that the watch needs to be wound again.

To display this complex information, Montblanc Villeret developed and patented a 19-part mechanism. It’s blued steel rack, which is visible, features an arrow tip reminiscent of the Minerva logo.

Exclusive edition

Only 8 Régulateur Nautique sets will be manufactured. The white gold cases of the wristwatch chronograph are 43.5mm in diameter with a fluted crown, with the chronograph monopusher inset into its centre. The gently curved horns hold the dark blue leather strap with its white gold clasp. A button at 10 o’clock advances the hand for the second time zone in 1-hour increments. The concave crystal has an anti-reflective coating on both sides to ensure the 3-dimensional dial can be seen clearly. The screwed case-back has a sapphire crystal so that the hand-finished movement with its large balance wheel can be admired.

Montblanc Régulateur Nautique Navigational Clock

Montblanc has given its new wristwatch chronograph a worthy companion: a new nautical clock which can ideally serve aboard a private yacht, but which will also attract admiring attention on dry land. This instrument is 93cm high, 56cm in diameter, weighs a substantial 120kg and stands on a base of granite, brass, aluminium and carbon fibre. Its mechanism has been manufactured using the finest traditions of the watchmaker’s art and is both a scientific instrument and a striking objet d’art.

The heavy granite base has curved aluminium and carbon fibre struts that provide a rock solid base. Because the movement is mounted on a gimbal suspension, it remains horizontal despite any movement of a ship. It even has a scale to indicate how far the vessel is listing, using a downward-pointing arrow on a scale from 0 – 27 degrees.

Because the navigation clock is only one half of each Régulateur Nautique set, another, smaller, gimbal is built into one of the struts supporting the clock and the wristwatch can be placed in this when the owner is not wearing it.

The dial of the navigation clock is mostly patterned in the same style of the wristwatch, but its much larger size provides ample space for three time zones. Time in the home port is shown by a 24-hour subdial at 9 o’clock, time at the destination port is at 3 o’clock and local time is indicated on the main dial, arranged in classical regulator style with a large minute hand at the centre, and the subdial for hours at 12-o’clock. Right next to it is the small seconds display. Like the wristwatch, the clock features a combined power reserve and winding display, although winding is only necessary every two weeks. The clock also features a world time indicator that shows the time in 24 yacht harbours below the gimbal mechanism.

LED illumination bathes the entire assembly in blue light. The owner can choose to replace the standard harbour names with others of his or her choice, making that timepiece exclusive. In this way the Montblanc Régulateur Nautique timepiece set morphs from being part of a very limited edition to being unique.

Complying with the Rules of Artistic Hand Craftsmanship

As its partner for the production of this impressive navigational clock, Montblanc joined forces with Erwin Sattler, one of the finest manufacturers in this field. The design and construction features a blend of artistry and high quality manufacture production, with extensive finishing carried out by hand. Its 360-hour autonomy requires a large barrel for the very long mainspring. Compensation for the decrease in the torque of the mainspring is achieved by means of a fusée mechanism. The energy transmission is regulated by a Swiss lever escapement and a screwed balance fitted with a blued steel balance spring. These can be observed oscillating at a classical frequency of 2,5 hertz through an aperture in the dial at 1 o’clock.