Watch collectors looking for something truly unusual this year may want to seek out the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 ExoTourbillon Rattrapante. Constructed at Montblanc’s tiny facility in Villeret, Switzerland, the $322,500 timepiece showcases the traditional machines and techniques employed by the watchmaker. Unlike many modern pieces, which are designed and manufactured with the assistance of computers, this classical split-seconds (or rattrapante) chronograph features extensive by-hand filing, fitting, and polishing.
The tourbillon’s oversize balance wheel sits atop the rotating cage. The balance wheel beats at 18,000 vibrations per hour, a frequency commonly used by old pocket watches, and the cage rotates at just a quarter the speed of modern versions. The large size of the balance wheel provides maximum precision under these circumstances and presides over this eye-catching totem of old-school horological virtue.