Montblanc - transforms hundreds into thousands

How to display thousandths of a second when the oscillator "only" makes 100 vibrations per second? The answer with the Montblanc TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000.
By : Fabrice Eschmann
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How precisely time is measured depends on how fast the balance and balance spring oscillate.  The second must be divided into ten equal parts to measure 1/10th of a second, a hundred equal parts to measure 1/100th, a thousand to measure 1/1,000th, and so on.  There can be no arguing with this fact, unless you happen to be Montblanc which has succeeded in measuring thousandths of a second with a frequency of 50 Hz:  100 vibrations per second. The movement in the new TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000 is equipped with two balance wheels.  One beats at 18,000 vib/h for the timekeeping function, the other at 360,000 vib/h for the monopusher chronograph.  Each escapement has its own power reserve.  Turning the crown clockwise winds the barrel for time measurement (over 100 hours of power reserve); turning it counter-clockwise winds the barrel for the chronograph (an autonomy of 45 minutes). When the chronograph is started, the central seconds hand sweeps the dial in one second, its tip moving across a scale from 0 to 100.  A counter at 6 o'clock features two scales and two hands:  a long hand with a red tip shows seconds from 1 to 60 while the short hand records up to 15 minutes.  Set slightly back, an aperture at 3 o'clock shows the power reserve for the chronograph.  But the star of the show, at 12 o'clock, is an aperture graduated from 0 to 9.  When the chronograph is stopped, a red arrow instantly shows the thousandth of a second. How is this possible, given that the chronograph's balance and balance spring "only" divide the second one hundred times?  Hired by Montblanc for the TimeWriter project at the Minerva Foundation, set up in 2008, the talented Spanish watchmaker Bartomeu Gomila – who trained in Restoration and Complicated Watches at WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training & Education Program) – came up with an original solution to say the least, thinking back to the hoops he used to push along the beach as a boy.

Coupled to the hundredths wheel, a wheel of a completely new type – the "thousandths wheel" – receives 100 impulses a second.  It rotates around its axis within the gear train at a uniform speed of 10 revolutions per second, to further divide the hundredth into ten equal parts.  The chronograph is controlled by a column wheel on two levels:  one level starts, stops and returns to zero the hundredths; the other controls the thousandths. When the chronograph is stopped, a cam "feels" where this thousandth wheel is positioned and instantly transfers the information to the thousandth hand.

An impressive 24 patents have been filed for this innovative system.

Published in : Brands,, Montblanc
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