Horological trickery is alive and well and, just like the mechanical automatons made by Jaquet Droz in the 18th century which amazed on-lookers, modern-day watchmakers are using similar micro-mechanics once used to animate the “toy” animals and human-like figures, and are putting them to good use in the creation of a new breed of watch dials which can prove to be more than they first appear.
In 2010, Montblanc wowed the industry with their showcase piece, the Metamorphosis I, a product of their melting pot of young watchmaking talent, the TimeWriter program. It had an arresting feature – the ability to switch between two different dials, each with its own characteristics and functions, and all operated by mechanical power. The two individuals behind its creation, Johnny Girardin and Franck Orny took some of their inspiration from “Transformers” robot toys, and indeed the piece had a rather modernistic appearance – perhaps just a little too contemporary for the collector’s marketplace at which it was aimed. Now it is back with a new, much more refined but no less complex edition, the Montblanc Metamorphosis II.
The Metamorphosis II is a masterful creation. It features an entirely mechanical transforming dial, but its dual personality is not limited to aesthetics. One dial has time and date, the other has time and chronograph indications yet before, during and after the changeover, the functions remain running and independently active. In other words, if the chronograph timer is activated, it will continue to run even if the wearer decides to change to the time and date dial – an exceptional achievement.
The Montblanc Metamorphosis II – Time for a Change
The conversion takes place on demand and is operable via the slide on the left side of the case. The central section of the dial remains in place while above and below it the transformation occurs. On activation, two sections at the upper and the lower dial part and slide to the side gracefully. At the upper section Roman numerals change to Arabic while the hour hand remains in place. At the lower dial the date moves aside to enable the chronograph indication to rise up and take up its position. Almost five hundred parts are required to make the mechanism work, but the switch between each dial is not a radical about-face, it is a gentle exchange which takes about five seconds.
Despite its supremely technical nature, this piece also displays some fine hand-finishing. One hour hand features a sunray brushed finish, the other contrasts superbly with a black guilloché background and also features an unusual spiral guilloché centre. The middle section of the dial which remains in place is silvered and is hand-decorated with “Grain d’orge” guilloche. Similarly the date/chronograph counter has circular-brushed satin detailing with darker aesthetics for the chronograph side. A sapphire bridge which traverses the date/chronograph indication and a sapphire minute track are subtle modern inclusions in an otherwise traditionally crafted timepiece.
A new rounded watchcase has been created for this model, replacing the egg-shaped profile of the first edition, crafted from 18k red gold and measuring 52mm across. This extraordinary timepiece is powered by the Montblanc Calibre MB M 67.40 which delivers a power reserve of 50 hours when fully hand-wound. Functions are transforming time and date indication to chronograph function, regulator-style time indication with retrograde minutes and column-wheel chronograph with single-pusher operation.
The Montblanc Metamorphosis II will be limited to 18 pieces priced at 270,000 €.