Four years ago Montblanc brought automaton-like functions to the wrist with the Metamorphosis, which was the world’s first wrist watch that comprised two different dials, and corresponding functions, in one wrist watch. To be clear, we’re talking mechanical watches here, no smart watches, no LCD screens. Upon pushing a minute-repeater-like slide, a genuine metamorphosis takes place, and changes the dial with time and date indications, to a dial with time and chronograph counter, that rises from underneath the other dial. How brilliant is that!
Originally launched in 2010 – as the first of the Timewriter program – the Metamorphosis was developed in the Montblanc manufacture in Villeret – the former Minerva manufacture. The Timewriter program gave young watchmakers the chance to develop their (spectacular) ideas with the help and full support of Demetrio Cabiddu (the master watchmaker) and his team. Now for the upcoming Watches & Wonders Montblanc launches the Metamorphosis II, in a limited edition of 18 pieces in 18K red gold.
In the 18K red gold crown is the pusher for the chronograph function. It’s a mono-poussoir (single pusher) chronograph that allows the wearer to perform the start, stop and reset to zero function through one pusher. With its single pusher, column wheel chronograph mechanism, featuring a horizontal clutch and large balance wheel with Phillips terminal curve, operating at a traditional frequency of 18,000 semi-oscillation per hour, Montblanc pays tribute to the legacy of the iconic (and highly collectable) Minerva chronographs.
Features of the Montblanc Metamorphosis
There are two dials with corresponding functions, that can be evoked by pushing a slide in the left-hand side of the case. The middle part of the dial, that always stays in place, is decorated with hand-crafted silvered “Grain d’orge” (barleycorn) guilloché. The change happens at the upper part and lower part of the dial. The following video of the Metamorphosis I, made by Andreas Boesch from Iontime, shows perfectly what happens upon pushing the slide.
In the upper section the hour hand remains in place, however the ‘dial’ changes from Arabic numerals on a silver sunray brushed dial to a hand-crafted black-coloured “Clous de Paris” guilloché dial with Arabic numerals that features a silvered spiral guilloché and circular-brushed satin finish of the centre part of the dial. Time is indicated in a so-called regulator-style, meaning the hours and minutes are indicated on their own sub-dials. The hours are indicated in the sub dial located at the upper part of the dial; a centrally placed retrograde minute hand indicates the minutes.
In the lower section the date indication is replaced by the chronograph counter. A sapphire bridge offers stability to the hand that either indicates the actual date, or the elapsed time. While the retrograde minute hand retains its original function, the central seconds hand changes its function to serve as the chronograph second hand.
The chronograph dial/function, with it’s darker grey colours, is clearly more sporty than the classic silvered time and date dial.
The outer ring around the dial features a circular-brushed satin finish, with second markers and even 1/5th of a second markers. Finally, the retrograde minutes are indicated on a sapphire minute track, that is placed on a hand-crafted raised brim index. This raised brim doesn’t cover the entire minuterie, as it’s interrupted between from the 16th to the 44th minute. The entire minute index goes from “00” on the left side, to “55” and a few more minute markers on the right side.
So we have a:
- watch with two dials/faces with corresponding functions
- superbly hand-finished, with overwhelming variation in decorations
- regulator-style time indication
- retrograde minutes
- a second hand that serves as normal second hand, and after switching to the chronograph, serves as chronograph second hand
One of the most innovative, technical characteristics of the Metamorphosis II is its ability to permanently retain all of its functions irrespective of the chosen face. The chronograph and date functions remain active independently of the watch face. Hence, when the timepiece is in classic mode and the chronograph is started, the chronograph minute counter will start to run and measure elapsed time. When the chronograph face is revealed again, the elapsed time will be shown. The same happens for the date: even if the chronograph mode has been active for several days, the date continues to run in the background, and is displayed again with complete accuracy when the watch returns to the classic mode. It only takes around five seconds to switch from one face to the other.
On the wrist
With a hefty diameter of 52mm you might think it’s unwearable, however I’ve had the Metamorphosis I on the wrist and it wears remarkably well. That’s because of the slightly curved case, that follows the rounding of your wrist, and the sloping short lugs. Yes it’s big, but sit perfectly balanced on an average size wrist. With it’s two faces, and the automaton-like functionality to change face AND function, it’s one of the most spectacular timepieces available on the market.
The new Montblanc Metamorphosis II is a limited edition of 18 pieces in 18K red gold, and is available for € 270.000 Euro (incl. taxes/VAT in EU).
Specifications Calibre MB M 67.40
- hand-wound – 50 hours power reserve – 85 jewels – 18,000 vph (2.5Hz)
- Components: 746 (494 for the metamorphosis)
- Dimensions: 16 lines (38.40 mm) by 12.45 mm
- In-house made balance spring with Phillips terminal curve
- Main plate: Rhodium-plated nickel silver with circular graining on both sides
- Bridges: Rhodium-plated nickel silver with Côtes de Genève
- Going-train: Gold-plated, faceted arms, diamond polished surfaces
- Functions: mechanical transformation of the time indication function to the chronograph function – regulator-style time indication – retrograde minutes – single-pusher chronograph with horizontal clutch and column wheel
More info about watches from the Montblanc Villeret collection here.