At this month’s Salon de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), Montblanc will flex its muscles with timepieces that fuse modernity with classic design codes based on its watchmaking heritage.
A prime example is the popular TimeWalker collection, which is updated with two new additions this year: the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph and the TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100.
Montblanc has had a fascinating history with motor racing and creating precise time-measuring instruments. The TimeWalker collection, for example, is a direct descendant of its motor racing days. In 1911, the maison laid claim to producing stopwatches that could measure 1/5th of a second, and later in 1916, its instruments could measure as precise as 1/100th of a second.
The new TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph features a classic panda design: a white dial face populated with black tri-counters. The design is evocative of the dashboards fitted into classic racing cars, and has found its place as one of the watchmaking industry’s most distinctive aesthetic style.
It is powered by a manufacture chronograph calibre MB 25.10, and is equipped with a traditional column wheel, a horizontal coupling and a stop-second mechanism. It comes with a new vintage brown Sfumato aged calf leather strap with perforated holes. The timepiece is water resistant to 100m.
The new Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100 will no doubt be making the rounds on social media throughout SIHH, from January 15 to 19. As the name suggests, it is limited to 100 pieces.
The timepiece is inspired by the maison’s iconic Minerva Rally Timer stopwatch from the 1960s, and features a “reverse panda” dial (black face with white counters). Inside ticks the handcrafted manufacture monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29, with a tachymeter scale and a power reserve of 50 hours. The calibre is inspired by the original Minerva calibre 17.29 from the 1930s.
The most interesting, and fun, feature is that the timepiece can be used either as a wristwatch or transformed into a pocket watch or even a dashboard clock. All that needs to be done is to fold the strap attachments under the case (to be made into a pocket watch) which can then be either propped up using its two arms below the case, or clipped to a metal plate fixed onto a car’s dashboard.
The 50mm case is satin-finished grade-two titanium, with the middle section knurled and coated with black DLC to give it an extra layer of hardness. An open case back shaped like a car grill allows watch enthusiasts to admire the movement.
The masion also breathes new life into its Star Legacy collection, inspired by its Minerva roots, with two new chronograph models as part of its offerings for SIHH: Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph and Star Legacy Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph. The two models are not only in line with Montblanc’s DNA – they are also evocative of its heritage.
The history of the maison stretches back to 1858, when it was known for its precise and beautifully-made gold pocket watches. Later in 1880, the manufacture was then known for its innovative twist to the pocket watch: instead of using a separate key to wind the timepieces, Montblanc’s pocket watches could be wound through the crown. The success of its engineering breakthrough placed the company at the forefront of the watchmaking curve, and led to internationals success. And it is from this auspicious beginning that the Star Legacy collection takes its inspiration from.
The Star Legacy collection, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, receives a facelift at this year’s SIHH. Key design codes, like the collection’s classic shapes and lines, have largely remained untouched. The dials show off redesigned black Arabic numerals paired with blue leaf-shaped hands, while three counters are placed at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock to give off an air of balance. A date window can be seen between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
The Automatic Chronograph uses a unique railway minute track featuring dots instead of lines, as well as a filet sauté guilloché lining the dial. Inside the 42mm timepiece ticks the Calibre MB 25.02, which comes with a power reserve of 46 hours. The timepiece also comes with a strap made of blue Sfumato alligator leather handcrafted at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, Italy.
The Rieusse Monopusher Chronograph, which launched a decade ago in 2008, gets a fresh interpretation. The watch pays tribute to Nicolas Rieussec, a French watchmaker credited with inventing the inking chronograph in 1921. The original innovation was made to accurately time the running times of individual horses at a race, and was named chronograph, putting together the Greek words ‘chronos’ or time, and ‘graphein’ or to write to create a ‘time writer’.
The case and the dial have been redesigned to allow for better legibility, and the off-centre hour-circle and the turning discs have been domed to give the watch a 3D effect. The 44.8mm timepiece also features horns on the sides and the classic onion-shaped crown with the maison’s emblem.
The Monopusher Chronograph is powered by the automatic winding manufacture Calibre MB R200, which boasts 72 hours of power reserve thanks to its two barrels. The iconic movement can be admired via the transparent sapphire crystal case back. It is also water resistant to 30m. A blue Sfumato alligator leather strap with a triple folding clasp accompany the timepiece.