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Review: Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph

Classic and modern with the new star on the chronographs’ sky
by Dan-Andrei Kluska on December 8, 2017
Positives

● Good looking, three-dimensional dial with multiple finishes
● Monopusher chronograph
● Not the usual chrono appearance
● It wears smaller as expected from the size
● Interesting movement, visible on the back
● Attractive price

Negatives

● The size might be a problem for a small wrist
● The chronograph pusher on the left is not for everyone.

The latest chronograph from the Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec collection is a great reinterpretation of the successful 2008’s chronograph. The new version comes with a reworked dial and an overall appeal. Will be the Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph a worthy follower? We try to answer this question in this full hands-on review.

 

Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph

Montblanc proposes a new Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph as an exercise of maturity. The case features subtle changes, while the dial has some major modification: date position, day-night indication, dial restyling and nice decorations.

 

Review: Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph

Talking about the Nicolas Rieussec, we automatically think about two aspects: the Montblanc with a vast experience in micro-mechanics from their extraordinary writing instruments and, more recently, their tangible horological pieces and the powerful legacy of the French watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec.

Montblanc is a  pioneer in the art of writing instruments since 1906. Their Meisterstück fountain pens are emblematic for the beauty and quality. It is said that every person, man or woman, should have one: inherited, received as a gift or acquisitioned. Having in mind the various collaborations and special edition, Montblanc has a powerful and solid reputation in the world of writing instruments. At the same time, Montblanc becomes, more and more, a big, reputable name in the horological world. The recent 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter LE,  in bronze, brings the heritage of Minerva, with a vintage appearance and a beautifully designed movement into a modern time telling machine. Another interesting piece from the Le Locle Maison was the Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama. With a tourbillon placed at 12 o’clock and the world, divided in two on the dial, the watch is spectacular.

Nicolas Rieussec is the watchmaker who patented, in 1821, a precise time measuring device, under the name of chronographe.  A new patent was awarded in 1838 for a simplified and easier to use version of the chronograph.

 

Nicolas Rieussec chronographe

The Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph in double exemplar: the original design of the French watchmaker and the latest chronograph of Montblanc.

 

A distinction should be made between the chronometer and the chronograph. Chronometry is a property of the watches on how well they perform. For instance, a chronometer has a very good precision but is not intended to measure necessarily time intervals. For the chronometric precision can be certified by technical bodies. The best known is perhaps the COSC, but also METAS used by Omega, the Qualitie Fleurier or the 1000 hours Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master Control and, in today’s reviewed piece, the 500 hours test of Montblanc. A chronograph is a complication, a short-time measurement function, additional to the nominal time display.  A chronograph does not imply a precision certification, although the most do have some sort of chronometric certification.

 

The case, dial and hand

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is the latest model from a collection started in 2008 and enriched in 2012 with a second time-zone display via a third hand. The Chronograph passed through several variations, that are easy to compare in this nice overview made on the Watch ProSite. We can consider, taking into account that the watch was released pre-SIHH 2018, the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph as the ten years anniversary piece of the model.

The new Nicolas Rieussec comes in a well-polished 44.8mm stainless steel case. The case received a subtle facelift, featuring curved finishing, besides the brand’s side step on the lugs.

The watch’s bezel is curved and mirror polished and brings, together with the domed sapphire crystal, a nice and warm vintage touch. The case is elegant and it looks excellent on the wrist. The beautiful lines and the nice finishes make the watch wear small for its size. The wearing comfort is great, almost unexpected for the generous size.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph side with crown

The case lines are sublime with no sharp edges or angles. The stepped lugs construction continues harmoniously on the case. The round bevel holds a domed sapphire crystal. The onion crown is decorated with the lovely Montblanc white star on the black background.

 

The stainless-steel crown has a beautiful onion shape and it is nicely decorated with the black and white Montblanc emblem. The crown can be used to set the watch in three positions. The mono-pusher chrono button is generous in size but not too big. The placement at 7 ½ o’clock may seem a bit odd at first, but serves well, being easy to operate with the right thumb.

The back is held with six screws. The view to the Montblanc Calibre MB R200 worthy of attention. But more later in the movement section.

The dial of the chronograph has a three-dimensional construction with various depths, finishes and materials. The dial is worked in a silvery-white finish. The “unused” surface is decorated with a delicate guilloché pattern, allowing the emphasis to be directed to the user important elements: the time keeping and the chronograph. The time display dial features an stepped outer ring with watch name printed on the lowered center medallion with concentric circles.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph dial

The printed domed titanium discs of the chronograph function emphasize the complication. The same applies to the framed date window. Also visible in this picture is the fine guilloché  of concentric circles of the hours and minutes’ chapter ring. Note the subtle day-night indication at 9 o’clock.

 

The main dial uses three leaf hands. Two blue leaf hands for the hour and the minute and a third, skeletonised, for the second time-zone. The flourishing Arabic numerals are slender and fits the design well. The chapter minute ring is a railway printed track. Also printed are the dot indexes for the second time-zone which is placed on the sunken sub-dial’s beveling. The sub-dial features his own decoration with azuré finishing in the centre of the hour-circle, and a filet sauté guilloché decoration. The subtle decorations are not something one might see or enjoy at a cursory glance, but the dial deserves full attention, being able to show an impressive number of elements and decorations.

An aperture placed at 9 o’clock serves as a day/bight indication – a subtler element than in the previous models. On the other hand, the date indication is moved to a more visible location at 6 o’clock. The date is surrounded by a frame fixed with blue screws.

Under the main dial, two titanium domed disks are used for the chronographic function of the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec watch. The 60 seconds chrono indication is performed by the left disk, while the right disk is responsible for the 30 minutes indication. The time is showed via an elongated pyramid placed under 6 o’clock time indication, between the titanium disks.

The entire dial construction is complex and interesting. It is a balanced combination of shapes and materials, beauty and function. The legibility is excellent. Unfortunately, the photographs are not capable to render the true beauty of the dials.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph

The multitude of elements on the dial, components or finishes, go lovely together. The watch has a nice visual impact. The mono-pusher is large enough to be comfortable in use but does not have a size that can become a visual breaking point. The position on the lower left side does not interfere with wearing, while at the same time, being easily accessible.

 

The movement MB R200

The Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is powered by the competent Montblanc Calibre MB R200. This calibre is the Montblanc effort to demonstrate its ability as watchmaking facility. The MB R200 was manufactured in-house in 2007. Since then, the movement used in all automatic Nicolas Rieussec watches, with small variation over the years.

The movement is an unusual configuration. The time and second time-zone are placed off center toward 12 o’clock. The chronographic function is displayed using disks instead of hands. The day/night indication and date are placed differently than earlier iterations.

The MB R200 is an automatic column wheel and vertical clutch movement with a 4Hz Gyromax balance wheel, providing 72 hours of power reserve from a two-barrel design.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph back

We can perhaps suggest a comparison with the German three-quarter plate in this view of the movement. The Côtes de Genève decoration can be found on the bridges and on the rotor weight. The blue screws, used for bridges increase the overall appeal. The design is balanced, with precise lines the complements each other.

 

The movement construction inspires confidence. It looks robust and well designed, perhaps even a bit bulky due to its 8.46mm height. An aperture on the main bridge reveals the column wheel. The otherwise almost symmetrical train wheels are visible beneath the bridge.

The decorations are nice: a precisely polished bevelling surrounds the bridges while, on top, a nice set of Geneva stripes brushing is present. The rotor is skeletonised and adorned with an aperture in the design of the Montblanc logo.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Calibre MB R200

The movement MB R200 has a compelling design. The visible layer is mostly covered by a big plate, revealing, however, the most interesting components. The skeletonization of the rotor features an aperture of the Montblanc star. The wheel train is also visible at the end of the main plate. Note the precise chamfered edges and the polished jewels’ sink.

 

The Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph’s movement appears as a mature movement. All the elements are well placed, pleasantly dressed up. The MB R200 has enough reasons to make one want to study it. The vertical coupling for the mono-pusher is visible, the going train wheels are a quite a nice sight to behold and the rotor’s Montblanc star overlaps exactly the column wheel display in the right position. Playing with the chronograph becomes a source of fun: beautiful elements moving, chrono pusher perfectly oriented on the right side (back side up view). The piece goes beyond utility, transcending perhaps the boundaries of entertainment combined with haute horlogerie.

An important detail is the 500 hours tests, that assure the best quality possible.

 

Competitive Landscape

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is priced at €9,000 (S$ pricing not released yet, but this converts to approximately S$14,300 before GST). Considering the interesting interpretation of the chronograph function, we consider the price to be excellent. The Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph might perhaps not be considered the obvious choice in a search of a chronograph, as features a second time-zone and an unusual chronograph display.

The most logical competitor should be Louis Moinet, respectively the Memoris. The French watchmaker Louis Moinet is the inventor of the first chronograph. This position was held previously by  Nicolas Rieussec. The watch was developed by Ateliers Louis Moinet in collaboration with Concepto. The dial is elaborate and features the chronograph function as the main attraction. The automatic calibre LM54  is a complex movement with 302 parts that offers 48 hours of power reserve. The Memoris is only available in precious metal, with the 43.5mm diameter in titanium has a price of S$89,800 in pink gold.

A special chronograph, but with the layout in vertical configuration is the IWC Da Vinci Chronograph Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”. This edition is dedicated to a good cause: Daimler and Richemont use the foundation to fund and support children’s community sports projects. The watch itself is also beautiful. A 42mm case in stainless steel with curved lugs, a lovely blue dial with polished hour markers, these are small details that make the watch interesting. The IWC Da Vinci Laureus is powered by the C.89361, a flyback automatic chrono. The Laureus special edition is limited to 1,500 pieces and has a price tag of S$19,100 including GST or CHF13,500 inclusive of Swiss taxes.

Going into a more maritime direction, the Corum Admiral AC-45 could be an interesting candidate. Packed in a complex shaped 45mm bronze case, the watch feature a wood dial. The applied hour markers are coloured nautical flags. This warm touch fits well the Admiral Cup theme. The nautical piece is powered by Calibre CO116 and uses an ETA calibre as a base, with a Dubois Dépraz chronograph module.  Corum Admiral AC-45 has a retail price of S$16,585, including GST.

An interesting and unusual looking two registers chrono is the Bell and Ross BR03-94 RS17. This is a minimalist Bauhaus-inspired design of the “circle within a square” watch case has always been iconic to Bell & Ross. Priced at S$9,000, the BR03-94 come in a 42mm ceramic composite case and a rubber strap. Limited to only 500 pieces, the F1 inspired watch is powered by the classical ETA2894-2 with a chronograph module.

 

Concluding thoughts

We feel the Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is an original chronograph watch.The watch’s display design is based on a two-century-old layout patented by the illustrious watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec. And we can say for sure that the latest iteration of the collection is a nice step forward. The watch is good looking. The multi-layered and multi finishes available for the collector’s own pleasure are a great pro argument. The combination of classic finishes and modern materials, with a touch of blue, makes Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph a beautiful wrist presence. The in-house movement is nicely decorated, but the construction is the one that scores the bonus points in our book. And the pricing is reasonable in keeping with the spirit of Montblanc.

The watch is dressed up with a nice blue Sfumato (the technique of allowing tones and colours to shade gradually into one another, producing softened outlines or hazy forms) alligator leather strap. The strap is specially manufactured in Florence, Italy, at Montblanc Pelletteria – Italian for Montblanc Leather Manufacture. The blue shade fits well the thermally blued decoration of the dial.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph wrist

The wearing comfort is great on this Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph. The curved lines, including the stepped lugs, the domed elements and dial architecture build a nice look that can satisfy many wishes.

 

Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Specification and Price

The Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph is available in the brand’s Boutiques for a price of €9,000.

 

Movement

Calibre: MB R200

Type: Mechanical movement with an automatic winding mechanism, chronograph and double barrel. Monopusher with column-wheel and vertical coupling

Dimensions: Ø 31.0mm, Height 8.46mm

Number of components: 319

Jewels: 40

Power reserve: 72 hours

Frequency: 4Hz / 28’800 vph

Functions: Off-centred hour- and minute-hand, second time-zone o the same axis as hour- and minute-hand with day/night display

Date in a 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 backwards

 

Case

Material: Stainless steel

Dimensions of the case: Diameter Ø 44.8mm; Height 15.02mm

Crystal: Scratch-resistant, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating

Crown: Stainless steel with Montblanc emblem

Caseback: Stainless steel with inset pane of sapphire crystal

Water resistance: 3bar / 30 m

 

Strap

Material: Blue Sfumato alligator leather crafted by the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, Italy

Buckle: Stainless steel triple folding clasp

 

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