Montblanc’s new Star Legacy Exo Tourbillon Skeleton LE8 is a skeletonized version of the haute-de-gamme timepiece it first unveiled in 2018. The watch has a unique construction allows for use of an imposing balance wheel to be the star of the show, relegating the mighty tourbillon to a supporting cast role.
The watch is part of Montblanc’s Star Legacy line, a family of classically-styled watches that take their style cues from Minerva pocketwatches made during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It uses an imposing 44.8 mm 18K rose gold case that’s 15.01 mm thick and fitted with a domed sapphire crystal on the dial side and an exhibition caseback to allow for 360 degree views of the three-dimensional skeleton movement. Fitted with an 18K rose gold onion crown with the Montblanc emblem in mother-of-pearl, the case is water-resistant to 30 meters.
The openworked movement’s architecture is dominated by the eponymous suspended balance wheel that anchors the whole show. The imposing 14.5 mm balance wheel is suspended by a steel cock. The tourbillon’s mirror-polished rotating cage is actually below the balance wheel – see, this is how Montblanc puts the Exo in Exotourbillon by placing the balance wheel outside of the tourbillon. Exo is the Greek word for outside or external. The tourbillon takes a minute to complete one rotation and the massive balance wheel is raised 4.15 mm higher than the dial and appears to be floating above it.
Time is displayed on an 18K gold dial with grand feu enamel coating. Slim rose gold hands sweep the dial printed with Breguet style Arabic numerals. The movement’s three-dimensional architecture is down to the five pillars that support the main plate on the top, and the barrel and gear train bridges. Montblanc says it took its engineers 18 months to develop this, the in-house Calibre MB M18.69 is composed of 188 components, entirely hand-finished at Montblanc’s Villeret facility. Except to see finishing techniques like circular graining, mirror-polishing, and beveling of bridges. The open-worked German silver bridges are rhodium-plated and have hand-chamfered edges, the gold-plated wheels of the gear train have a circular grained finish.
In addition, the movement also has 420 inner angles that can only be polished by hand. A hallmark of haute horology movements, these sharp inner angles are formed at the intersection of two chamfered surfaces and generally elicit oohs and aahs from the watch cognoscenti. Limited to just eight pieces, the timepiece is fitted with a brown Sfumato alligator leather strap sourced from the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence and is equipped with a triple folding clasp with security pushers, offering a secure grip.