When the watch industry saw one of the worst one-year declines in demand for Swiss timepieces last year, Montblanc put on a brave face. In fact, it put on two. Newly released this year and one of the highlights at the SIHH fair, the Montblanc TimeWriter 1 Metamorphosis is the realisation of a dream two watch specialists shared - a dream of 'one watch, two faces'. 'When things get difficult you change the speed, but not the goal,' says Jean-Marc Pontroue, executive vice-president of product strategies and development at Montblanc. 'Three years ago, we said we would develop the Metamorphosis movement, and now we have the fruits of our labour. We have a watch that provides people with a new way of telling time.' The idea behind Metamorphosis was to develop a timepiece with one dial to indicate the present time and another to measure time, with a mechanism that allowed one dial to transition smoothly into the other. The watch was created by specialists Johnny Girardin and Franck Orny through Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie, which was founded by Montblanc to foster young talents and to combine tradition with innovation. 'We had imagined a concept for this watch,' Orny says. 'We had envisioned a watch with two faces, with the metamorphosis from one to the other achieved through a mechanical transformation.' This transformation is made possible through the layered dial arrangement. A horizontal bar across the dial acts as the top layer, with cut-outs for the function displays at 12 o'clock and six o'clock. The first dial under the horizontal bar indicates the present time with a 'civil time' display, featuring an hours sub-dial at 12 o'clock, while a retrograde minutes hand on the central axis sweeps through the minute indexes arching from eight o'clock to four o'clock. A large seconds hand shares the central axis. A date display is located at six o'clock, where the date is indicated by an inner disc showing the '10s' digit and an outer disc showing the 'ones' digit. The metamorphosis begins when a slide on the left side of the case is shifted down, activating a 15-second transformation from civil time display to a chronograph dial. The two sub-dials at 12 o'clock and six o'clock split down the middle into wings that open out to the side, where they disappear under the top layer of the dial. A sub-dial then rises up at six o'clock, 'swallowing' the date hand through an aperture as it surfaces and revealing a rotating disc which will serve as the chronograph minutes counter, calibrated to 31 minutes. The seconds hand now serves as a central chronograph hand, while the retrograde minutes hand and the hours sub-dial function as they did before, with the latter displayed in a new red-accented dial to match the chronograph minutes counter. While undoubtedly the highlight of Montblanc's novelties, Metamorphosis was not the only technological innovation the brand launched at the fair this year. The ExoTourbillon Chronographe reinvented the architecture of the tourbillon by creating a mechanism that positions the balance wheel outside the tourbillon cage. By isolating the balance, a smaller tourbillon cage can then be created. With this decrease in mass, the construction operates on 30 per cent less energy than is required by traditional tourbillon mechanisms. The energy saved is used to power the watch's chronograph functions. Another advantage of this unique architecture is that the balance oscillates with greater precision given that its separation from the rotating cage means that it is no longer affected by the cage's inertia. The invention is awaiting patent protection and will be used exclusively in the brand's Villeret 1858 Collection. The model showcases the innovation at 12 o'clock, with an hours sub-dial at six o'clock, a small seconds display at nine o'clock and a chronograph minutes counter at three o'clock. Between four o'clock and five o'clock is a small dial showing a 24-hour display for a second time zone. 'The ExoTourbillon is for tourbillon fans who want to see the complication structured in a new way,' Pontroue says. He adds that the ExoTourbillon is a prime example of how Montblanc isn't a brand that launches novelties just for the sake of having something new, but that 'behind every watch, there is a story ... there is substance'. He admits Metamorphosis is still his favourite watch of the year. 'Metamorphosis is a talking piece in itself, hopefully the topic of many a dinner conversation for the next few years,' Pontroue says. 'A luxury company is about selling dreams, fairy tales. And Metamorphosis is probably the most beautiful fairy tale we have to sell.'