Montblanc is not a brand that plays it safe in good or bad times – and the new 2017 collection is evidence of that.

“If you don’t move forward, you lose,” says Montblanc CEO Jérôme Lambert. “Elegance, technical competence and value for money are the main elements of our watch strategy.”

During Lambert’s tenure at Montblanc, the luxury maison has revolutionised its watch collection by offering grand complications such as ExoTourbillon and the Orbis Terrarum at more competitive pricesthan its competitors .

“Every year, we challenge ourselves with a new benchmark,” Lambert says. “We dare ourselves to take the risk of proposing something new. The more you dare, the more you’re allowed to dare.”

This year, Montblanc has a new collection that pays tribute to the rich history of its Manufacture Minerva in Villeret.

The Rally Timer, a stopwatch created to time motor racing, marks the beginning of the collection. The modern interpretation – TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter, limited to 100 pieces – can be worn as a wristwatch or a pocket watch and can also be transformed into a dashboard clock.

With a large case, which has a diameter of 50mm, the timepiece is constructed with grade-two titanium coated with black DLC to make it more comfortable to wear and for a modern, sporty look.

Echoing the aesthetics of its traditional chronograph, the Rally Timer Counter features plenty of elements inspired by cars – cue the open caseback that resembles a car grille, as well as the black dial accentuated with red chronograph second hands, SuperLuminova indexes and tachymeter scale.

Powered by the manually wound mono-pusher chronograph MB M16.29, the piece boasts a power reserve of 50 hours. It costs HK$258,100.

Another piece from the TimeWalker collection is the Chronograph 1000, limited to 18 pieces. The watch taps Minerva’s expertise in chronographs – the manufacture developed stopwatches that could measure 0.2 seconds as early as 1911 and 0.01 seconds in 1936.

The modern iteration, circa 2017, is capable of measuring elapsed time to 0.001 seconds with a mechanical chronograph. The innovative movement boasts two patents and 22 auxiliary patents.

In order to capture 0.001 seconds, the movement features two hearts instead of the conventional one heart – one of which powers the time functions while the other is reserved for chronograph indications.

Every year, we challenge ourselves with a new benchmark. We dare ourselves to take the risk of proposing something new. The more you dare, the more you’re allowed to dare
Jérôme Lambert, CEO, Montblanc

A high-frequency movement was developed to deliver energy to rotate an innovative wheel in the gear train called the “thousandth wheel” around its own axis at a uniform speed of 10 rotations per second in order to drive the 0.01 seconds into sets of 10 increments.

The timepiece also improves legibility of its 0.001 seconds indication by offering a cartouche – inspired by vintage car dashboards and is displayed at 12 o’clock. The chronograph is activated by an elegant mono-pusher.

Its complicated movement boasts 488 components, and it is housed inside a 46.4mm diameter DLC-coated titanium case with ceramic bezel and satinated black horns.

The innovative piece, which echoes the roots of the heritage manufacture, costs HK$1.221 million.

To ensure reliability, all TimeWalker models undergo Montblanc’s painstaking quality control programme “Performance Test 500”, which entails 500 hours of controls with testing and evaluation under extreme conditions.

For collectors who prefer dressier watch options, the 1858 collection adds a bronze version this year – a first for the maison. The retro-esque 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter is limited to 100 pieces. To complement the bronze 44mm-diameter case, the dial is rendered in a Champagne hue matched with cathedral-shaped hands and beige SuperLuminova markings. Enlisting Montblanc’s know-how in leather goods, the cognac alligator leather strap is crafted at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence. The piece costs HK$220,000.

The crown jewel of this year’s collection is the Heritage Chronometrie ExoTourbillon Rattrapante, limited to eight pieces and which is priced at HK$1.883 million.

The rattrapante chronograph refers to a split-second chronograph which indicates time intervals without interrupting the measurement of a longer elapsing interval. The 47mm diameter, 18ct red gold case features a sapphire crystal caseback that reveals the hand-finished calibre. Manually-wound, the piece features a power reserve of about 50 hours.

Apart from its complicated timepieces for men, Montblanc continues to push boundaries in the women’s watch segment.

“Men buy tourbillon watches because of their precision and also as a symbol of power and achievements. Why would it be different for women,” Lambert says.

“We foresee [the women’s market] continuing to grow, especially in China, because more women are earning their own money and buying watches for themselves. For us, it’s a meaningful and
impressive market.”

The Bohème ExoTourbillon Slim limited to 18 pieces comes with a slender 38mm diameter, 18ct white gold case with diamond encrusted bezel and set with diamonds in the centre of the dial. The piece costs HK$339,300.

Lambert praises the collaboration between Montblanc’s watch manufacturers in Le Locle and Villeret for the impressive 2017 collection, saying: “It’s made possible by the very skilled and talented watchmakers in both our manufacturers.”