Many of you have seen the Montblanc Rieussec Chronograph. But did you know where its design originates from? I had the chance to take pictures of the 1821/1822 original that belongs to the Patek Philippe Museum.
The history in brief:
During the second half of the eighteenth century, when a hand indicating the seconds (then called trotteuse) is introduced on pocket watches, it needs a device to enable it to stop. Initially, the solution was to stop the movement by using a small lever. In 1776 Jean-Moïse Pouzait adds a complete movement for the seconds, with its own barrel in order to stop the trotteuse without stopping all the movement. This was called independent dead second. Why dead second? The trotteuse at that time makes one jump every second.
On March 9th 1822, following a favorable verdict from the Royal Academy of Science, the consultative committee for Arts and Engineering of the Ministry of the Interior granted Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec a five-year patent for a “timepiece or counter of distance covered” which its inventor named a “seconds chronograph.” Rieussec’s device, fitted with a cylinder escapement, which was already accurate to one-fifth of a second, deposited a drop of ink, on demand, onto a rotating dial to mark the start and finish of an elapsed time. Frederick Louis Fatton, in association with Abraham-Louis Breguet, proposed an improved version of this inking chronograph in 1823.
So why did Montblanc choose this ancient Seconds Chronograph to act as a model for its first chronograph?
That´s easy to explain: Ink was the perfect way to marry both, the world of fountain pens and the world of mechanical watches. We just learned that the Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec chronograph deposited a drop of ink on demand onto a rotating dial to mark the start and finish of an elapsed time.
All clear? So ink was the shared element that would unite the two main worlds of Montblanc.
Besides this Montblanc was able to create a very particular chronograph design with the help of the old Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec timepiece, a chronograph that for sure was not just another of its kind. The look of the modern Montblanc Rieussec is so particular, that it has to be seen as a sort of reinvention of the theme chronograph.
Guys, this is what I would call perfect marketing!
Have a look at the Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec Seconds Chronograph dating from 1821/1822. The mahogany timepiece belongs to the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
Click to enlarge …
And these finally are different versions of the Montblanc Rieussec chronograph all equipped with Montblanc in-house made calibers.
A new version will be presented at the SIHH 2014 in Geneva. I cannot tell you more today. After seeing these pictures above, if you like the 1821/1822 original, you will for sure very much like the new 2014-version 🙂