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above: The Montblanc Metamorphosis in action
One of the most talked about and exciting new watches at this year's SIHH was Montblanc's TimeWriter 1: Metamorphosis. One watch, that through methods from the art of automaton construction, changes into another watch, right before your eyes.
By moving a slide down or up, this timepiece changes from a wristwatch with hour, minute, second display to a chronograph and vice versa.
TimeWriter I: One watch – two faces
The first watch of the TimeWriter series, the Metamorphosis, is based on the Montblanc chronograph calibre MBM 16.29 and derives its name from its unique dual functions and faces: By moving a slide down or up, the Metamorphosis changes from simple time indication to a chronograph and vice versa.
The first face: The Classic Time
In the standard timekeeping mode, the watch displays hours, minutes and date and has a rather conservatively elegant appearance with Roman numerals in classic silver and black colours. The lower half of the dial displays an unusual circular date display.
A sliding mechanism starts the transformation process of the watch: By pressing the slide on the left-hand flank from “10” to “8” the watch starts with its metamorphosis process that lasts approximately 15 seconds and magically transforms it from the time indicating mode into a chronograph.
The second face: The Chronograph
The metamorphosis itself can best be compared to a scene change at the theatre: wings of the dial open up, slide under one another, and disappear to the left and right beneath the middle section of the dial.
After the transformation, this masterpiece of mechanical timekeeping presents a face devoted entirely to the chronograph function. Emphasising the watch’s second function as a sports timer, the face displays Arabic numerals with red markers. The subdial, in the form of a rotating disc, now takes the stage as the minute counter. The existing hands and dials assume new roles as part of the chronograph.
The two inventors, Johnny Girardin and Franck Orny, came up with the idea of a timepiece that could literally and mechanically change its appearance before our very eyes. For over a year, they worked alongside the designers and watchmakers in the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie to transform their initial idea into a watch.
above: the inventors of the Montblanc Metamorphosis Franck Orny and Johnny Girardin
Although the principle of a watch with different functions is nothing entirely new, the way in which the Montblanc Metamorphosis transforms itself from one watch face to the other, has never been seen before. It is a highly complex process, involving 50 individual components that move technically synchronously. The mechanisms involved in this process are so new and innovative (The complication adds 315 extra parts to the original 252 parts of the Minerva Kaliber 16-29 hand-wound movement) that they’ve been registered for patent.
The Metamorphosis watch will only be available in a limited edition of 28 pieces. Price is still unknown as of yet.
all information and images courtesy of Montblanc.