Peak of perfection
Diverse company celebrates 100 years with a display of limited edition pieces
Montblanc is marking its centenary this year with a range of outstanding limited edition watches. These include the Star Chrono GMT Perpetual Calendar chronograph. Unveiled at SIHH, the watch comes in platinum, white, yellow or rose gold.
The Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC) certified watch has the features of a classic timepiece, as well as a GMT second time zone display and a perpetual calendar, making it one of the more sophisticated complications in the high-grade range. Only 100 pieces are being produced.
Montblanc built up its business and an international reputation with the fountain pen, but the company is also well-established as a maker of watches.
In 1997, Montblanc established a subsidiary called Montblanc Montre, in Le Locle, Switzerland, in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking region. That same year, the company launched its handcrafted Meisterstuck watch.
By 2003, the watch manufactory had outgrown its premises in Montblanc's art nouveau home in Le Locle. The villa's essential character was retained, but the lower floor at the rear was expanded to increase the production area.
The atrium has a space for 40 craftsmen. Floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the space in natural light. The workshop design reflects the brand's philosophy of combining traditional values with contemporary ideas.
The most exclusive version of the Star Chrono GMT Perpetual Calendar chronograph is in platinum, with a skeleton art nouveau rotor. It is being produced in a strictly limited edition of just three pieces.
Equally exclusive is the new Profile Lady Elegance Diamonds Limited, which comes in limited editions of three, 100 and 1,906 pieces in 18-carat white gold. The case and the bracelet are enhanced with a firework display of diamonds. Limited Edition 3 is set with 794 brilliant and baguette-cut Top Wesselton diamonds with a weight of 9.85 carats.
The Sport Tantalum Automatic Limited Edition 100 and the Sport Chrono Automatic Limited Edition 1906 are for fans of extreme sports, professional divers and aesthetes. Tantalum is a very special metal: it is twice as heavy as steel, very tough and corrosion-resistant.
The timepiece has a helium escape valve, is water resistant to a depth of 1,906 metres (a numerical play on the year Montblanc was founded), and weighs 550 grams. As the name implies, only 100 pieces are being made. The Sport Chrono Automatic Limited Edition 1906 comes in an edition of 1,906 pieces.
It is water resistant to 300m, has a stainless steel case with a tantalum look, and an automatic helium escape valve.
A special centenary creation is a diamond cut in the shape of the Montblanc star adorning the crown of all Montblanc centenary edition watches.
Last year Montblanc opened new boutiques at the rate of one every five days.
The company has 313 boutiques around the world, the biggest being the Hong Kong outlet at Chek Lap Kok.
The original Montblanc company was founded in 1906 by two German entrepreneurs, August Eberstein and Alfred Nehemias. The inspiration for launching the business came during a visit to the United States and Britain.
During their travels the two men were fascinated by the new, but not yet fully developed, fountain pen.
The uniqueness of the fountain pen was that it contained an ink tank, and did not have to be dipped in an inkwell, like the writing instruments of old.
Back in Hamburg, the two men opened a workshop where they manufactured fountain pens and sold them to stationery traders. The joint venture became the cornerstone of a company that found international fame.
In 1977, Alfred Dunhill of London became the majority Montblanc shareholder, and later took over the remaining shares.
Both companies belong to the Richemont Group.