The Nicolas Rieussec collection pays tribute to the French Watchmaker Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec who was a pioneer in the field of chronographs. The design of the collection was inspired by the original chronograph Rieussec invented in 1821. Similar to his invention, these chronographs use rotating discs with motionless hands.
I recently borrowed a Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours Chronograph, which was introduced at SIHH last year, for a two-week-long test. Below I will show you hands-on images, as well as give you our thoughts on the watch.
The Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours Chronograph collection has three different variations: stainless steel, 18K red gold, and platinum (limited to 28 pieces). The red gold and platinum models both come with a silver-colored dial and the steel model (which we tested), comes with an anthracite/gray dial.
The anthracite gray dial features a beautiful Grain d`Orges guilloche pattern that contrasts nicely with the silver off-center dial and the gray subsidiary dials. The time is displayed via a large off-center dial. Hours are shown via a disc that displays Arabic numerals through a large aperture at the top of the dial. Minutes are displayed via a centrally mounted skeletonized hand. At first, it was difficult to read the time, at a glance, but after a few days, it became second nature.
A wide aperture at 12 o’clock shows laser cut-out numerals Arabic numerals 1 through 12, with an arrow the indicates which hour it is. The twelve-hour disc turns above another disc below that represents day/night, and which is half blue and half black. Black (visible between 6 am and 6 pm) represents day and blue represents night. The twelve-hour disc rotates continually, while the day/night disc turns in intervals, at variable speeds to display day/night through the cut-out numerals.
Using different colors to represent day and night was definitely a good idea, however, whether the choice to use black for a day and blue for the night is a good idea, is debatable. Logic would suggest that the opposite makes more sense. Nonetheless, this integrated day/night mechanism is unique, complicated and has been patented by Montblanc.
Like on the original Nicolas Rieussec chronograph from 1821, the chronograph counters of this timepiece have motionless hands and rotating discs to count 30-minutes and 60-seconds. The hands are blued and are secured by a bridge. The bridge has two visible rubies, 4 small silver screws and 2 large blued screws. Small semi-circle apertures at 3 and 9 o’clock, respectively, display the day and date.
The stainless steel case is fully polished and measures 43 mm in diameter by 15.20 mm in height, with a length of 51 mm and with a lug width of 22 mm. The fluted steel crown has been polished and is emblazoned with a black and white mother-of-pearl inlaid Montblanc logo. The crown is non-locking and is a large enough to easily grip — but without digging into your wrist. The case is beefy, but the lugs are nicely curved so as to provide a comfortable fit.
The stainless steel bezel has been polished and is fixed in place. A small recessed corrector button on the case flank, at 10 o’clock, controls the day/date (requires a small pin to adjust). Located at 8 o’clock is the flat mono-pusher which controls the chronograph start-stop-reset functions (all in one button). The sapphire crystal is slightly domed, with a double anti-glare coating. Screwed caseback with transparent sapphire crystal reveals the finely finished movement. A cool feature, visible through the caseback, is a rear power reserve indicator.
The Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours Chronograph is powered by automatic caliber MB R220, which is based on the original Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec movement — MB200. It features a mono-pusher chronograph, with a column wheel and vertical disc clutch. This configuration allows you to control the start, stop and reset functions all from one push-piece. And in our experience, the pusher actuation was about as smooth as it gets, no harsh or firm feeling when activating, stopping or resetting the chronograph.
A balance is free-sprung, which is preferable to a regulated balance because it is easier for a watchmaker to adjust the rate and amplitude. The balance wheel is particularly large at 9.70 mm, which typically helps improve accuracy. The wheel train with special toothing for more efficient power transmission. Flat hairspring. Blued screws. There are 342 components, 42 or which are jewels. Twin barrels provide a maximum 72-hour power reserve.
The Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours Chrono comes on a black alligator leather strap with a triple folding clasp. Water-resistance is 30 meters. Retail is $13,900 (stainless steel – 108790), $34,700 (red gold – 108789), $62,600 (platinum – 108788). The Rising Hours collection is not currently available for sale on Montblanc.com, however, the Nicolas Rieussec Automatic Chronograph is ($10,700) – you get everything that the rising hours watch comes with, except for the wandering hours, all for $3,200 less.
The Rising Hours chronograph has a number of unique features that set it apart from your typical chronograph. A fabulous movement with a mono-pusher column-wheel and vertical clutch. Furthermore, the wandering hours display with patented day/night indication is a unique complication you won’t find anywhere else.