Montblanc commemorates the very first ascent of the Mont Blanc mountain in 1786 with a limited edition of eight Star Legacy Exo Tourbillon Skeleton timepieces, featuring a new movement architecture and handmade decorative work on both the dial and movement. While a representation of a mythological wyvern creature, believed to have lived on the Mont-Blanc’s Mer de Glace glacier, is positioned on the right.
The Story of the First Ascent
The story of the first ascent of the Mont Blanc mountain is one of courage, curiosity, ambition, and action. Since the dawn of civilisation, the Mont Blanc mountain has inspired both fascination and fear in equal doses. Local legend had it that dangerous mythical creatures inhabited the high passes, preventing passage to the 4,810-metre peak. It wasn’t until 1760 when the naturalist Horace-Bénédict De Saussure offered a substantial prize to the first person to find a way to the summit that interest grew.
After numerous unsuccessful attempts, an ambitious young hunter and gold seeker, Jacques Balmat, enlisted the help of Michel-Gabriel Paccard, a doctor with a passion for botany and minerals, to help him find a way to the top. At 6:23 pm on August 8th, 1786 the duo reached the summit, making history, a whole century before the word “alpinist” even entered the dictionary. One year later, the duo returned with Horace-Bénédict De Saussure so he too could experience the summit of his dreams. The story of these three gentlemen shows how anything is possible when you have determination and courage at your side.
Every great achievement begins with a pioneer, a vision, and a determination to do something that has never been done before. Just as the summit of the Mont Blanc was conquered by two mountaineers, the Maison was founded by three visionaries, who took Europe’s highest mountain as the symbol of perfection against which they measured every achievement. Following the spirit of the founding fathers, the driving aim of Montblanc today remains to reach that ideal, with all the surprises and challenges that come along the way. Like the climbers, who made their way from plateau to plateau into the snowy heights of the Mont-Blanc massif, the artisans at the Montblanc Artisan Atelier and the master watchmakers of the Montblanc Manufacture overcome different challenges in their respective art forms.
Montblanc Star Legacy Exo Tourbillon Skeleton The Ascent - LE 8
In commemoration of this historic moment, Montblanc is unveiling a new Montblanc Star Legacy Suspended Exo Tourbillon Skeleton The Ascent Limited Edition of eight pieces. Each piece is hand-engraved with the Mont Blanc mountain in the sub dial at 12 o’clock. Surrounding the “White Mountain”, an 18K white gold engraving of Balmat climbing to the summit can be found on the left , while a representation of a mythological wyvern creature, believed to have lived on the Mont Blanc’s Mer de Glace glacier, is positioned on the right.
It requires a lot of experience to create such detail in the tiny space of a watch dial. Montblanc’s goldsmiths and engravers start with a piece of 18K white gold, they are able to turn a 2D drawing into a 3D 18K white gold sculpture, bringing realism and emotion to the scene.
During the historic climb, Balmat and Paccard set off with leather backpacks that contained blankets, pouches for rock samples, and various measuring instruments, making their ascent even more impressive by today’s standards. One of their experiments was to measure the intensity of the sky’s colour using a new invention at the time called a cyanometer. In fact, a few years later, De Saussure was able to use this device to prove that the sky’s blue tone became increasingly darker with a decrease in humidity, concluding that the colour of the sky was determined by the water content of the air.
In celebration of this invention, the Montblanc Star Legacy Exo Tourbillon Skeleton, The Ascent, Limited Edition features a cyanometer gauge that runs around the periphery of the tourbillon cage, indicating the different shades of blue sky.
New Architecture and Level of Suspension
First introduced in 2010, the patented Exo Tourbillon complication is a key pillar of the Montblanc watch collection. The idea was to position the large balance wheel, beating at the traditional low frequency of 18’000 oscillations, outside of the tourbillon’s rotating cage (explaining the term “Exo”).
The massive balance wheel is raised 3.2 mm higher than the dial and appears to be floating above it. This suspended position has been made possible thanks to a dedicated tourbillon bridge with only one arm which is curved, creating a three-dimensional look and a fine watchmaking aesthetic.
This new limited edition pushes the concept of a floating mechanism even further. Montblanc’s engineers worked for over 12 months to conceive a new skeleton movement (on top of the original three years of R&D), injecting lightness, rethinking design and geometry, while also testing the stability of each element.
188 components of high complexity, including five supporting pillars between the base plate and bridges, are all aligned to let the light filter in. As a result, a composition of delicate and pure lines, some as thin as lace, come into play to magnify the mesmerizing tourbillon as it rotates. It is rare to see a whole movement working from 360 degrees as can be seen with this suspended calibre.
A skeletonized movement is considered a complication in itself due to the savoir-faire needed to open up the movement to the light. The challenge is to make the components as thin as possible, while not weakening the structure of the movement. As the components can now be seen from each and every angle, the quality of the finishing becomes highly important.
The Montblanc Star Legacy Suspended Exo Tourbillon Skeleton movement includes 420 inner angles that have all been polished by hand. The inner angles are among the most difficult parts to polish due to their difficulty of access. It is impossible to polish them by machine, and only an expert hand can bring out the beauty of the inner angle. In Villeret, each artisan has his or her own techniques, often using local mountain flower stems, such as the Gentian flower, in the search of the polished angle.
The Montblanc Star Legacy Suspended Exo Tourbillon Skeleton, The Ascent Limited Edition is a celebration of the courage it takes to advance into unchartered territory in the search of beauty in all its forms.
Montblanc Star Legacy Exo Tourbillon Skeleton, The Ascent - LE 8
Movement Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB M18.69
Type of movement Manufacture hand-finished manually wound movement
One-minute patented Suspended Exo Tourbillon Skeleton
Exo Tourbillon surrounded by a cyanometer scale of 52 shades
Dimensions Diameter = 41.95mm; height = 6.45mm
Number of components 188
Number of rubies 19
Power Reserve Approx. 50 hours
Balance Screw balance, diameter = 14.5 mm; moment of inertia
= 59 mgcm²
Frequency 18,800 A/h (2.5 Hz)
Hairspring Blued hairspring with Phillips terminal curve
Plate Open-worked rhodium-plated German-silver, stretched
stripes on both sides, hand-chamfered edges
Displays Off-centered hours and minutes, small second at 6 o’clock
Patented Exo Tourbillon (one revolution per minute to indicate
the seconds) with one arm-bridge at 6 o’clock, mirror-polished
Exo Tourbillon cage
Bridges Open-worked rhodium-coated German-silver, stretched
stripes on both sides, hand-chamfered edges
Going-train Gold-coated, circular grained, chamfered, diamond hubs
on both sides
Barrel Mirror-polished open-worked ratchet, circular-graining
inside the mirror-polished winding pawl shaped with the
Case 18K white gold, polished case
Crystal Domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective
Back 18K white gold sapphire crystal case back with simple
Dimensions Diameter = 44.8mm; height = 15.1mm
Water resistance 3 bar (30m)
Crown 18K white gold with Montblanc diamond
Dial 18K white gold hand engraved dial representing the
Mont Blanc glacier, Balmat first ascending it in 1786
and its Wyvern
blue steel polished hour and minute hand
Wristband Blue Sfumato alligator leather strap, semi-matt, large scales
with dark blue hand-sewn stitching and blue alligator leather
lining, 18K white gold triple-folding clasp
Limited Edition 8
Certified by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500H