Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is an interesting watch inspired by a chronograph patented in 1838. This not-the-usual-layout system uses two disks for precise passed time measurement. During this year’s SIHH, I got the chance to have in my hands the latest two iterations, the Reference 119964 in gold and Reference 119954 in steel. I like both variants, but the gold version winked to me from the first moment. Check below my impressions.
Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph
The last two pieces in the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec collection offer a dial variation from the steel, silver version seen at SIHH 2018. This time, the unusual chronograph also comes in precious metal – 18 k red gold. Since the combination of the grey dial and the red gold is appealing, I decided to give slightly more attention to the Ref. 119964. With the note, that the steel version looks and feels exactly the same, but is manufactured in non-precious metal.
Two new grey dial brings, in my opinion, a touch of modernism. While the older version with the white dial looks absolutely gorgeous and classical, it was a very traditional implementation of the Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph design.
A history, not to be forgotten
Nicolas Rieussec patented in 1821 a precise time measuring device. It gave it the name of “chronographe“! A few years later, Rieussec patents a new version. The 1838’s variant was simpler and it was easier to use. More about Nicolas Rieussec in this Wikipedia article.
Montblanc released the first Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph in 2008. In 2012, the watch received the third hand, as a second-time-zone.
Montblanc from the top to bottom
Or better said from the case to crown…
The polished case measures a large 44.8mm. The height is also generous – 15.02mm. The case has to deal with the large Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB R200. As before, the side step on the lugs is present.
The slightly raised bezel is curved, featuring a domed sapphire. The warm vintage note of the bombe case, bezel and crystal is elegant and pleasant.
The crown, my favourite part of the exterior holds the traditional black and white Montblanc emblem. On the other side, the chrono pusher makes a clear statement – “I am important, I am the only one…“, without being brutal or vulgar.
Not your usual chrono
The dial of the Nicolas Rieussec chrono is a playful collection of finishes in multi-level surfaces. The guilloché pattern surrounds the various displays present on the dial.
The time’s display uses a stepped sub-dial with printed numerals. The minutes’ outer track uses dots as indexes. The hour and the second time zone have two sets of indexes: a set of golden Arabic numerals and a set of printed dots on sunken sub-dial’s beveling. The day/night indication is smartly presented through an aperture in the 9’clock position.
The dial holds on the upper side of the Montblanc name.
Like all the other elements of the dial, the date indication at 6 o’clock received well-deserved attention. Maybe the choice of black on white is debatable. Certain is that the legibility is excellent. The date is adorned with an exquisite frame. The fixation is done in the dial disk and not above it, using two screws. I find this particular element to have an undoubtful sophistication.
The chronometric function of the Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is ingeniously implemented. Instead of using hands on a fixed dial, the chrono uses two rotating discs. The indication is realised by a single raised rhombus shape placed between the two discs. The right disk is responsible for the 30 minutes counter. Note the cool mirror finish on the surfaces of the chrono’s three-dimensional rhombus.
On both discs, two sets of rail tracks are used for increased legibility. The circular brush of the domed discs makes a charming contrast with the central, mirror polished weights.
The dial is a splendour of details. The good general legibility is added to a balanced combination of colours and shapes. Montblanc made no mistake in this one.
In a heart bit
The Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB R200 is, as the name suggests, manufacture in-house. And this since 2007.
This automatic movement is used in all Nicolas Rieussec watches, with specific variations. The column wheel and vertical clutch movement beats at 28’800vph. The 4Hz Gyromax spring is able to squeeze 72 hours of power reserve from the two barrels design.
The movement is lavishly decorated, using the typical Haute-Horlogerie finishes: Côtes de Genève on the bridges and on the rotor weight, bevelled and polished edges and jewels’ sink, blue screws and an attent design. The skeletonised rotor is adorned with the Montblanc star.
Attention to details
The unusual chrono display and the elegant execution make the Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph a tempting proposal. It looks good in steel, even better in gold (for me, at least…)! The sum of the dial elements, nimbly implemented using a two-century-old patent and the beauty of the movement bring a je ne sais quoi to the watch. One cannot simply ignore it. And in my opinion, you can only love it.
I have to admit, that playing with the chrono was an unusual experience. The odd position of the chrono-pusher is intended to be used with the right hand’s thumb. I had always the urge to keep the watch on the right side using the index and middle finger – for precision and stability. I find it to be ok, un-obstructive for the reading. The rotating discs are mesmerising and bring a fun note to the entire experience.
The watch feels good on the wrist. Very good! Its weight is ok for someone used to heavier pieces. A person who only wears titanium cased quartz might find it unbearable. But I know it is not the case of the usual watch lover/collector.
As a conclusion: an exceptionally built watch with an elegant and exquisite presentation powered by a handsome movement. And let’s not forget about the 500 hours test routine that assures the quality and the chronometry of the watch (marked also on the caseback). A good choice for any collector.
Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph
Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Reference 119964 in gold and Reference 119954 in steel.
Movement Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB R200
Type of movement
- Mechanical movement with automatic winding mechanism, chronograph and double barrel
- Chronograph Monopusher with column-wheel and vertical coupling
- Diameter = 31 mm; height = 8.46 mm
Number of components
Number of rubies
- Approx. 72 hours
- Screw balance, diameter = 9.7 mm; moment of inertia = 12 mgcm²
- 28,800 A/h (4 Hz)
- Rhodium-coated with circular graining
- Rhodium-coated with “Côtes de Genève”
- Special toothing for more efficient power transmission
- Off-centred hour- and minute hands, second-time-zone on the same axis as the hour- and minute-hands with day/night display
- Date window at 6 o’clock
- 60 elapsed-second and 30 elapsed-minute counters on rotating discs with central motionless hand
- Travel function with rapid reset of hour-hand and date display either forward or backward
- 18 K red gold, polished case – Reference 119964
- Stainless steel, polished case – Reference 119954
- Scratch-resistant, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
- 18 K red gold with inset pane of sapphire crystal – Reference 119964
- Stainless steel with inset pane of sapphire crystal – Reference 119954
- Diameter = 44.8 mm ; Height = 15.02 mm
- 3 bar (30 m)
- 18 K red gold with Montblanc emblem – Reference 119964
- Stainless steel with Montblanc emblem – Reference 119954
- Monopusher chronograph at 8 o’clock
- Anthracite with guilloché pattern in places,
- domed hour-circle with azuré decoration in the centre and red gold-coloured Arabic numerals,
- filet sauté guilloché around the dial, red gold-coated leaf hour- and minute-hands,
- rhodium-coated, respectively, blued skeletonized second-time zone-hand,
- red gold-coated, respectively, rhodium-coated titanium domed chronograph counters with satin-finishing
Wristband Grey Sfumato alligator-skin strap from Richemont Pelletteria in Florence, Italy with 18 K red gold pin buckle, or stainless steel triple-folding clasp for the steel version.
Certified by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500
For more information visit the Montblanc Website.
The article was originally published on Watch I Love Magazine.