For SIHH 2018, Montblanc will unveil new watch models for its reinterpreted TimeWalker and its new Star Legacy collections. Both lines are inspired by the heritage of Minerva, an historic small manufacturer in the Swiss town of Villeret known for producing hand-made, high-precision chronographs in limited numbers.
Montblanc acquired Minerva in 2006 through its parent company, Richemont, and renamed it Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. While Montblanc changed the name of the watchmaker, it has in recent years used the Minerva heritage and name for several new models. In addition, it has created models that combine chronograph movements from Villeret for its watch models produced in Montblanc’s main manufacturing facility in Le Locle. The small workshop also continues to produce high-end, hand-made limited-edition chronographs for Montblanc as it has always done but now under the Villeret name.
The revamped TimeWalker collection was Montblanc’s big reveal for SIHH 2017, taking 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. In 2017 Montblanc unveiled five TimeWalker models specifically geared toward professional motorsports. It further cemented the watch line’s association with motorsports through its sponsorship of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, held annually in July on the 12,000-acre Goodwood Estate in Westhampnett, West Sussex, England.
For SIHH 2018, the German luxury brand presented two new versions of these models.
Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100
The watch, limited to 100 pieces, is inspired by the Minerva Rally Timer stopwatch produced by Minerva in the 1960s. It can be worn as a wristwatch, a pocket watch or can be used as a dashboard or clock by removing the brown Sfumato aged leather calf strap and folding the strap attachments under the case.
The 50 mm case is crafted out of grade-two titanium with a satin-finish and the middle section of the case is knurled and coated with black DLC. The case can be turned from 0 to 180 degrees (or from 3 to 9 o’clock) in both directions to allow readability while driving. Titanium also is used for the vintage-inspired knurled crown and strap attachments.
The chronograph’s “reverse panda” dial has a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock aligned with a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, reminiscent of the original Minerva Rally Timer. In the center, the red chronograph seconds hand runs along a tachymeter scale, which can be used to calculate speeds over fixed distances.
The watch is powered by the MB M16.29—a hand-crafted, manually wound, in-house monopusher chronograph movement. It features a column wheel, horizontal coupling and a power reserve of 50 hours. It’s inspired by the original Minerva caliber 17.29 developed in the 1930s, used for both pocket watches and wristwatches. This modern-day version has Côtes de Genève stripes, inner angles, circular graining and bevelling—as well as the iconic Minerva arrow, a chronograph bridge shaped in the form of a “V” and a large screwed balance that has a traditional frequency of 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour.
Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph
This motorsport chronograph combines a tri-counter “panda” dial with a new in-house automatic chronograph movement.
In addition to the tri-counter panda display, the dial has a flange with a 5-minute track coated with SuperLumiNova. Other features include rhodium-plated, dauphine-shaped hour and minute hands; and a red chronograph seconds hand inspired by the Minerva arrow.
The satin-finished 43 mm, stainless steel case contains a new fixed black bezel engraved with a tachymeter scale made of shiny high-tech black ceramic. The horns are semi-skeletonized to appear like the air inlets of a car’s body, and the black DLC crown is knurled like vintage car radiator caps. The caseback is fitted with a smoked glass opening, reminiscent of the glass windows that cover powerful V12 engines.
The timepiece is powered by the in-house caliber MB 25.10 movement with traditional finishings, blue screws and a new monobloc oscillating weight made of black rhodium-plated tungsten and designed in the shape of a steering wheel. The movement is equipped with a traditional column wheel, a horizontal coupling and a stop-second mechanism.
Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph
The new Star Legacy collection acknowledges the 20-year anniversary of Montblanc’s Star collection by keeping key elements of the line, but enhancing the level of classical finishing and the sophistication of its design. Inspired by the Minerva pocket watches, such as the Gold Hunter Calibre 19 from 1927, the new timepieces feature round cases with a curved finish on the sides, giving a refined and shaped pebble effect, along with horns that have steps on the sides.
Montblanc reinterprets its Nicolas Rieussec monopusher chronograph first launched in 2008. The watch pays tribute to the French watchmaker Nicolas Rieussec who invented the first inking chronograph in 1821. The case and the dial of the timepiece have been redesigned, while keeping its distinctive face with the chronograph’s turning discs and off-centered dial.
In this new version, the 44.8 mm stainless steel case contains a reworked silvery-white dial. The off-centered hour-circle and the chronograph’s titanium turning discs are domed, giving a three-dimensional effect. Inspired by the codes of the collection, black Arabic numerals are slimmed down and surrounded by a railway minute track. Classic blued leaf-shaped hands complete the overall design. The date is at 6 o’clock and enhanced with a display applied on the dial with blued screws. The dial is finished with guilloché pattern in places, azuré finishing in the center of the hour-circle, and a filet sauté guilloché decoration that runs around the dial.
The chronograph is powered by the Caliber MB R200 in-house automatic chronograph movement. The column-wheel mechanism controls the monopusher chronograph. The connection between the gear train and the chronograph’s wheels is engaged and disengaged by a vertical coupling and prevents the elapsed time discs from jumping when the chronograph is switched on. The movement has two barrels with a 72 hours of power reserve.
The timepiece has two rotating vertically-aligned discs that serve as 60-second and 30-minute counters that turn below a blued fixed double index. This is reminiscent of Rieussec’s original chronograph. In addition, a second time zone is displayed by a skeletonized hand on the off-centered dial.
Montblanc Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph
The 42 mm polished stainless steel case contains a silvery-white dial that features redesigned black Arabic numerals, blued leaf-shaped hands, filet sauté guilloché and a railway minute track.
A small seconds subdial is at 9 o’clock and a date window at 4:30. The chronograph’s seconds hand is at the dial’s center with 30-minute and 12-hour counters at 3 and 6 o’clock
Powered by the in-house MB 25.02 automatic movement, it has a 46-hour power reserve.