Montblanc Flying On The Globe
Right time, right place, right people – a situation where Montblanc is blessed with. The right time: the climate of watch market has been changing. The halo effect of traditional brand names fades away; on the other hand, a bold, creative and ambitious manufacture earns more respect. The right place: Montblanc took over the famed movement maker Minerva in Villeret, thereby further enhancing its watchmaking expertise. The right people: since Jerome Lambert took the helm of Montblanc, the brand has become more aspirational and created a great many breathtaking talking pieces.
Take a look at the 110th anniversary pieces, the novelties of the new 4810 collection are almost unarguably impressive.
From Ocean Up To Mountain
Montblanc this year presents scores of ocean-themed watches. To understand the inspirations, we need to first know the roots of the Manufacture. The early 20th century saw huge changes in the mode of production. The steam engine and improved sea navigation method gave rise to a breakthrough in maritime transportation. The three founders of Montblanc engineer August Eberstein, salesman Alfred Nehemias, stationer Claus-Johannes Vob, on their journey crossing the Atlantic Ocean to America, invented a writing instrument with non-leaking technology and piston converter, laying the foundation of the brand. In 1910, they adopted the brand name Montblanc; it was named after Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, symbolising that the brand’s products from writing instruments to timepieces are of the highest quality and finest craftsmanship.
Montblanc established its own manufacture in Le Locle in 1997 and took its first steps in watchmaking. And the real turning point occurred in 2007 – Richemont, the parent company of Montblanc, acquired the Minerva manufacture. Soon after Montblanc incorporated this prestigious manufacture into its brand. We’ll take you on a tour of the two manufactures in detail the next pages. Here are two things you need to know: Minerva is well-known for its collector-loved chronographs. And it is one of the handful manufactures never ceases production in the Swiss watchmaking industry.
A Decade of Rapid Growth
Just less than ten years Montblanc boasts lots of pioneering accomplishments. They have produced more high-end and complicated watches, especially the chronographs. The Nicolas Rieussec released in 2008 is the first chronograph housing an in-house movement with two distinctive chronograph discs. Then two complications were presented in 2010, the Metamorphosis with a transforming dial, and the ExoTourbillon with a balance wheel outside the tourbillon case, both combined a chronograph function. Two years later came the TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Frequence 1,000 capable of accurately measuring 1/1,000s of a second, followed by last year’s Heritage Chronometrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph equipped with the stop-second function. As such, Montblanc has undergone a decade of rapid growth and made numbers of technical achievements.
Apart from creating complicated models, Montblanc has also made outstanding timepieces at comparatively affordable prices over the past few years. Its complications and semi-complications are almost the lowest priced in its segment. For instance, the perpetual calendar in steel for around $90,000 in 2014, the full calendar at entry-level price range in 2015, and the second edition of the worldtimer this year.
This year marks not only the brand 110th anniversary, but also the 10th anniversary of the 4810 collection. Named after the height of the Mont Blanc Mountain, the collection has been Montblanc’s focus this year. The watches range from the luxurious pocket watch with the cylindrical balance spring, to the Day-Date priced at around $20,000. Again, all its timepieces are remarkably affordable.
Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph
Heritage Perpetual Calendar
TimeWriter I: Metamorphosis
TimeWriter II: Chronographe Bi-Frequence 1,000
4810 ExoTourbillon Slim 110 Years Edition
The success of a brand depends not only on how many complications it invented, but also its meticulous attention to details. By looking deep into the ExoTourbillon Slim anniversary pieces, you’ll realise Montblanc has gone from strength to strength.
Montblanc unveiled the first ExoTourbillon in 2010. They placed the balance wheel outside of the rotating cage of the tourbillon and assigned it on the top of the case. This construction allows the cage to be smaller and lighter to save energy. The latest iteration features a balance wheel with 9.7mm in diameter, much larger than an average balance wheel. The ExoTourbillon released 6 years ago is a four-minute tourbillon watch, followed by last year’s Heritage Chronometrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph, a one-minute tourbillon watch. This watch adds the stop-seconds function allowing accuracy down to the second when setting time. In fact, only a few create tourbillons with stop-seconds, for example Jaeger-LeCoultre and A. Lange & Söhne(other members of the Richemont Group), and the independent brand Gronefeld.
The brand new ExoTourbillon unveiled this year keeps the stop-seconds function and doesn’t come with a chronograph. Equipped with a micro-rotor for the first time, the piece is 10.14mm tall with a 4.5mm thick movement inside and sits comfortably on the wrist. Without the chronograph registers, the dial now showcases a lovely hand-painted map. Three versions with different paintings are on offer: Asia, Europe, North America. And each map requires 7 days of work. To ensure the impeccable visibility of the map, the dial is kept as open as possible and comes only with the hour and minute hands and the Roman numerals “XII”. Last year’s the Worldtimer was no doubt a surprise to many. And the Manufacture this year accentuates its refined craftsmanship by this aesthetics and exceptional piece.
4810 ExoTourbillon Slim
The three ExoTourbillon with map painting are created to mark the 100th anniversary. If you are look for a more simple one (or you are from South America or Africa ), you can still experience this new slim tourbillon. Cased in rose gold and not limited in production, the piece features a dial decorated with the Montblanc Star guilloche design on the upper part and the Geneva Stripes on the lower. It also boasts a function selector at 3 o’clock to let the wearer know which setting (winding, setting time or stop-second) the crown is on.
4810 Orbis Terrarum
Even the watch doesn’t bear the word “worldtime” on its name. By looking at its world map dial, or you are smart enough to understand Orbis Terrarum means “world” in Latin, you’ll know it is nothing but a worldtime watch. Strictly speaking, it is the very first wordtimer of Montblanc. As a watch for frequent travellers, it is more suitable than the Star World-Time GMT in 2011 and the World-Time Hemispheres in 2013.
This watch is in fact the improved version of last year’s Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum. The dial is still composed of two layers. The upper sapphire crystal showcases the transparent continents and blue ocean, while the lower disc rotates once per day. But there is a difference. Last year’s model shades the countries in white and black to indicated the day and night time. For this year’s model, the countries during daylight hours are coloured in shades of yellow, orange and green, and night time in dark blue. Even without a day/night indicator, the time in any other place in the world can easily be read off. And there is no second hand to block the view of the appealing world map.
As said before, the watch is particularly useful for frequent travelers due to its convenient adjustment of time. To set the time, the local time city first needs to be positioned in front of the red triangle at 6 o’clock via the pusher at 8 o’clock. Then the hours and minutes can be adjusted through the crown to set the correct local time. When travelling to another time zone, the new destination city simply needs to be aligned at 6 o’clock. This adjustment is again done through the pusher at 8 o’clock, which automatically turns the hour hand, continents, cities, day/night disc and 24-hour timezones along with it. And you don’t need to carry any pin-set on your travels. In this new era of convenience, even a mechanic watch has to keep up with the times. The watch is equipped the same MB 29.20 automatic movement as last year’s, which is indeed a Sellita base movement. Nonetheless, Montblanc has made some changes on the worldtime indication instead of just adding a module on top of the base movement. With an in-house manufacture, Montblanc can enjoy such advantages.
Compared with the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum, this latest Orbis Terrarum is slightly enlarged from 41mm to 43mm. Although many brands are trimming down the case size, Montblanc chooses to make the case bigger to let wearers to appreciate the fascinating world map. Price-wise, the new release costs a few thousands dollars more than the previous model; yet, it is still at a very, very competitive price when speaking of a worldtimer.
4810 Orbis Terrarum
Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition
To celebrate its 110th anniversary, Montblanc the first time has created a pocket watch which is limited to 110 pieces. The piece bears the same characteristics as the Orbis Terrarum watch, featuring the easy-to-use worldtime function and two layers dial. What set the twin timepieces apart is the dial design. The city ring and day/night discs are now larger. In addition, no longer are the city names written in 2 rows. The city ring now leaves plenty of room for the city names and the 24-hour ring is relocated between the map and city ring, greatly enhancing the legibility of worldtime. This steel pocket watch has a transatlantic ocean liner engraving on the caseback and is complemented with a refined steel chain crafted like a ship’s rope. It also comes with a stand for transforming the piece into a desk clock.
4810 Twinfly Chronograph 110 Years Edition
With the supports of its arsenal Minerva, Montblanc’s chronographs is notable to many watch lovers. So, to celebrate its 110th anniversary, the Manufacture this year introduces the 4810 Twinfly Chronograph 110 Years Edition. Original in 2011, the new Twinfly set both the chronograph minute and second hand at the centre to replace the minute counter so that the dial now looks more spacious. And this similar design can also be seen from other brands like Panerai and Habring these years. Though the Twinfly is transformed from TimeWalk to 4810 collection, the piece is still a traditional chronograph with the column wheel and vertical clutch system, and delivers a power reserve of 72-hour by two barrels. Besides, the vertical subsidiary dials display the 24-hour and day/night indicator on the top, while the small seconds and date on the bottom.
At first glance you perhaps think of another watch from a brand with a crown emblem. But what we try to say is how we are amazed by Montblanc’s increasingly aggressive strategy of affordability. Powered by an automatic movement, the 4810 Day-Date housing the date and day of week function together with a guilloche dial is probably the most competitive watch within the same product category. And the price? Around $22,300. Needless to say it’s surprising affordable, given that we’ve seen some which cost double.
Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition
This pocket watch is created also to commemorate the 110th anniversary. Plus, it is the most high-end one among the anniversary pieces and epitomises the Manufacture’s finest watchmaking craftsmanship. The dial layout looks familiar with last year’s Geospheres Vasco da Gama, but the position of the tourbillon is now swapped with the globes. The two hands in the centre indicate local time, while the home time is shown at 12 o’clock. What’s more, the three-dimensional globes display the worldtime and day/night indicators of the northern and southern hemisphere. In 2011, Montblanc created the double cylindrical balance spring. This pocket watch also features the cylindrical balance spring to pay tribute to marine chronometers. It is also worth mentioning that they didn’t skimp on decorations. Besides the beautiful globes, the caseback is also adorned with exquisite wave pattern engraving, giving this intricate piece an admirable finish.
Text：Douglas Sung / Translation: Casper Li / Photo：Kauzrambler