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Monday, February 20, 2017

A First Look At Montblanc’s 2017 Watch Collections

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Rattrapante Limited Edition 8

Montblanc introduced two full watch collections and a limited edition timepiece at the recently concluded Salon International Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva. In form and function the models pay tribute to the watchmaking heritage of Minerva, known for its handmade chronograph movements. Montblanc (through its parent company, Richemont) acquired the specialist watchmaking workshop and renamed it Villeret after the town where it resides. More about the watchmaking workshop and Montblanc’s relation to it can be found here

The limited-edition standalone piece is a highly functional chronograph with a tourbillon, dual time zone and other complications. The new TimeWalker collection references motorsports and the new Montblanc 1858 Collection uses bronze, a first for Montblanc. The new models are as follows:

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Rattrapante Limited Edition 8
This is a watch produced entirely in Villeret with its Minerva heritage intact. The movement was inspired by the rattrapante watches by Minerva in the 1930s and the design motif was taken from the Minerva Pythagore timepiece developed in 1948. 

The 47mm 18k red gold case houses a dial with a well-balanced display despite many indicators. The ExoTourbillon at 12 o’clock is highlighted by an exterior double infinity tourbillon bridge. Raised counters and subdials have different finishes. The small seconds subdial and the 30-minute counter have an azuré motif in the center and an opaline decoration on the external ring; while the second time zone and day/night subdials are embellished with a sunray pattern. Faceted sword-shaped hands are used for the hours, minutes, seconds, second time zone and chronograph minutes. Baton-shaped hands are used for the day/night and chronograph seconds hands. A grey satin-finished flange is calibrated with a fifth-of-a second scale for the chronograph while showing the running minutes.

The local time is indicated in the center (hour and minute hands) with the small seconds in a subdial at 9 o’clock. Home time is shown in hours in the subdial at 6 o’clock, and is linked to the day/night indication displayed between 4 and 5 o’clock. A subdial at 3 o’clock displays the 30-minute chronograph counter; while the chronograph’s seconds and split-second times are recorded by chronograph hands in the center. 

When travelling, the new local time is set by pressing on the corrector at 8 o’clock, which advances the central hour hand in hourly increments without affecting the minute hand or the home time at 6 o’clock. 

“Exo” (derived from Greek meaning external or outside) refers to the screwed balance wheel positioned outside the tourbillon’s rotating cage. It allows the cage to be smaller in size and free of the weight of the balance wheel, saving 30 percent more energy than a conventional tourbillon, the company said. 

Rattrapante (from the French word “to catch up”) refers to chronographs with a split-second function that allows a watch to measure two separate events of different durations. All functions of the chronograph complication are activated through the pusher within the crown.

The watch is powered by the Villeret in-house manually wound caliber MB M16.62 with a 50-hour power reserve. 

2017 Montblanc TimeWalker Collection
This was the big release of Montblanc for SIHH 2017. The collection takes its inspiration from the pioneering work of Minerva in the development of chronographs that could record in 1/100th of a second as early as 1916. The collection consists of five professional motorsport watches. They all feature satin-finished black cases and semi-skeletonized horns with architecturally carved flanks, inspired by the aerodynamic lines of the bodywork of classic cars. Details include knurled finishes on the flank of the black ceramic bezel, crowns and pushers, which are reminiscent of vintage car caps; smoked glass case backs inspired by the glass windows that reveal V12 engines; and strap holes similar to vintage leather racing gloves. Black, white and red color contrasts and three-dimensional counters are inspired by vintage dashboards. Most of the TimeWalker timepieces feature an iconic central seconds hand coated in red with the tip crafted in the shape of the Minerva arrow.

The collection consist of the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18, Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100, Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph UTC, Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic and Montblanc TimeWalker Automatic Date

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18
The 46.4mm chronograph with a case made of Black DLC titanium contains a high-frequency Villeret in-house movement with two patents and 22 auxiliary patents that measures elapsed to 1/1,000th of a second. 

The chronograph power reserve indicator on the black dial is inspired by old fuel gauges, while the black and red details and the 1/100th of a second indication are reminiscent of early car dashboards. It also has a high-frequency balance wheel and a titanium monopusher chronograph at 12 o’clock, which mirrors the Minerva stopwatches that were used for timing car races.

The Villeret in-house MB M66.26 manually wound monopusher chronograph uses two balance wheels. The hours and minutes are at the center of the dial with a small seconds counter with a rhodium-plated hand at 9 o’clock are regulated by a large balance with 18 screws. The chronograph’s small balance can be seen at 10 o’clock and beats at a rate of 360,000 semi-oscillations per hour (50 Hz). For finer adjustment and to further improve its precision, the chronograph’s small balance wheel is equipped with two hairsprings fixed on top of each other.

The chronograph is controlled by a two-level column-wheel: one level controls the whip to start, stop and reset the seconds, minutes and the 1,000th-of-a-second; and the other level guides the hammers to reset the seconds and the minutes. 

The chronograph function is powered by its own barrel, which stores enough energy to measure intervals of up to 45 minutes. 

The black dial contains a lot of information but it’s surprisingly easy to read. A double counter at 6 o’clock has a long, red-tipped hand to tally seconds from 1 to 60, as well as a shorter, all-red hand to count a maximum of 15 minutes. The chronograph’s large red center hand rotates once per second indicating hundreds-of-a-second through a scale on the dial’s periphery. The thousandths of a second is displayed at 12 o’clock along a 0 to 9 scale. It engages when the chronograph is stopped, pointing to the proper 1/1,000th of a second. The resting position is indicated by the letter “N” (for neutral). 

Turning the crown clockwise operates the normal clock functions. A counter-clockwise turn powers the chronograph functions. A display at 3 o’clock indicates the 45-minute power reserve for the chronograph movement. To tally lengthier intervals, power can be conveyed to the chronograph’s barrel by turning the crown while the chronograph is running.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100
This wristwatch with its black leather calf strap can be converted into a pocket watch by folding the strap attachments under the case and turning the case from 0 to 180 degrees. The pocket watch can then be either placed on a table, resting on two arms that come out of the caseback, used as a stopwatch with the strap as a handle, or clipped into a metal plate covered with leather that attaches to a car’s dashboard.

The 50mm case with tachymeter scale is crafted out of grade-two titanium. The middle section of the case is knurled and coated with black DLC. Satin-finished titanium is also the material for the vintage-inspired knurled monopusher, crown and strap attachments. The open caseback is in the shape of a car grill. 

On the dial the chronograph’s 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock is vertically aligned with the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, reminiscent of the original Minerva Rally Timer. 

The watch is powered by the Villeret in-house manually wound monopusher chronograph caliber MB M16.29 that features a column wheel, horizontal coupling and a power reserve of 50 hours. The caliber takes its inspiration from the original Minerva caliber 17.29 developed in the 1930s, used for both pocket watches and wristwatches. This new version adds Côtes de Genève stripes, inner angles, circular graining and beveling, the iconic Minerva arrow, a chronograph bridge shaped in the form of a “V” (patented in 1912), and a large screwed balance with a frequency of 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph UTC
The 43mm black case is topped with a unidirectional rotating black ceramic bezel with a silvery-white engraved 24-hour scale. 

Strong color contrasts with silver and red elements and three-dimensional counters resemble vintage car dashboards. The chronograph seconds are indicated with the red central hand with the tip shaped in the form of the Minerva arrow. The chronograph hours are displayed in a subdial at 6 o’clock and the 30-minute chronograph counter is at 12 o’clock. 

The watch is powered by the Montblanc automatic caliber MB.25.03 that shows the time in three different time zones. Local time is indicated with rhodium-plated hands, and the home time can be read via a central hand enhanced with a red arrow. The local time is set by the crown. The date is synchronized with the local time. A third time zone can be added by turning the unidirectional rotating bezel to the new time zone with the 24-hour hand being the point of reference.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic
The 43mm satin-finished stainless steel case contains a black dial with a red chronograph seconds hand in the center, chronograph hours displayed in a subdial at 6 o’clock, and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 12 o’clock. All the readings are legible due to black rhodium-plated dauphine hands injected with SuperLuminova, and a silvery-white minute track also enhanced with SuperLuminova and red markers for the 15-minute marks. 

The watch is powered by the automatic caliber MB 25.07 and comes with a choice of three different strap options: perforated leather, perforated rubber, and a metal bracelet with three links.

Montblanc TimeWalker Automatic Date
The 41 mm stainless steel case with unidirectional rotating black bezel allows users to track a second time zone. Powered by the automatic caliber MB 24.17, the indications include hours, minutes and seconds in the center and a date display at 3 o’clock. The dial with its scale from 5 to 60 is reminiscent of the Minerva stopwatch dials from the beginning of the 20th century. 

Montblanc 1858 Collection
This year’s Montblanc 1858 Collection is highlighted by the use of bronze—a first for the luxury brand—giving this watch a vintage appeal. Two models feature a bronze bezel mounted on a steel case, which the brand claims is a first in the history of watchmaking. This particular bronze alloy is designed to develop its own patina as it worn over the years, the company said. 

They are modeled after Minerva chronographs from the 1930s. The use of bronze complements the colors of the dials, antique-styled straps, 1930s Montblanc logo with its historical font and emblem of the Mont Blanc Mountain in the center, and other vintage elements.

Large cathedral hands, with their cloisonné design filled with beige SuperLuminova, Arabic numerals, vintage shaped crowns and classic minute railway tracks that encircle the dials are taken from the 1930s Minerva chronographs. Other vintage codes include the original Montblanc logo from the 1930s era with its historical font and cognac colored calfskin and alligator straps that were given an aged look by the artisans at the Montblanc leather goods facility in Florence.

The three bronze models that make up the collection are: the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time and the Montblanc 1858 Automatic.

The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100
This 44mm watch houses a champagne-colored dial with a sunray finish that matches the bronze color of the case. The bronze case is backed with titanium to avoid allergic reactions. It is powered by a traditional manual monopusher chronograph movement, the Villeret in-house caliber MB M16.29, with a column wheel mechanism, horizontal coupling, chronograph bridge in a "V" shape, a large screwed balance wheel vibrating at a frequency of 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour and a 50-hour power reserve. It was inspired by the original caliber 17.29 designed for pocket watches and wristwatches in the 1930s, but features different finishes, such as inside angles, Côtes de Genève stripes and circular graining. For the first time, the caliber bears red gold-colored components that match the bronze material. As with all the Minerva calibers, one of the movement’s components is shaped into the form of the Minerva arrow.

Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time
Housed in a 44mm stainless steel case with a bronze bezel and crown, this watch is powered by the caliber MB 29.19 automatic movement with a dual time complication. A skeletonized home time hand is positioned in the center with a touch of Super-LumiNova on its tip to distinguish it from the local hour hand, which is completely filled with Super-LumiNova. The user can set the local time hour hand to the new destination time zone without affecting the home time hour hand. The minute and second hands run without interruption during this setting process. A day/night indicator connected to the central home time hand, is visible at 12 o’clock. At six o’clock, a subdial indicates the small seconds and the date, which is linked to the local time. 

Montblanc 1858 Automatic
This watch features all of the same vintage design details of the Dual Time piece on the front, including the bronze bezel with stainless steel case. The caseback reveals an engraving of the Minerva Manufacture in Villeret, with the Jura Mountains in the background with the Villeret logo, the historic Minerva logo, the Montblanc name and the arrow from the Goddess Minerva’s spear. The timepiece is powered by the caliber MB 24.16. 

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