Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel - SIHH 2016 Live Preview
It is crystal clear that Montblanc is no longer considered the Cinderella of the watchmaking industry; in everybody's mind, Montblanc is automatically associated to their famous tag-line “the art of writing” but today, the company, is overwhelmingly entering both the worlds of haute-horlogerie and very high-end watchmaking. A few of you are probably aware of the fact that Montblanc originally made their debut into society starting off with premium watches and then suddenly moved to the very high-end watchmaking field in the following years (that's according to the company profile).
In the role as watchmakers, Montblanc has come up with many incredible timepieces, whose content has almost “embarrassed” all those brands that orbit the Richemont galaxy, manufacturers that, at least on paper, have excellent pedigrees, history and tradition. I am referring in particular to Montblanc's acquisition of the historic manufacturer Minerva and of the Villeret collection, one of the best co-branding achievements that have ever taken place in the history of horlogerie.
Despite everything, the gap existing between a Montblanc Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique and a Montblanc Meisterstück (a symbolic tribute to one of icons of Montblanc's collections of writing instruments) seemed to be enormous. It was such a gigantic leap that it floored everybody and, as I wrote in one of my previous articles, it also made it pretty difficult to identify the brand, even for those who know Montblanc's products quite well.
Today, the company has eventually squared the circle and it has created a series of timepieces that every single haute-horlogerie brand would be envious of. The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel is one of the main novelties that the manufacturer will present at the 2016 SIHH event. I was lucky enough to be able to take some pictures of this timepiece and, thanks to Montblanc, I am able to introduce you to this watch one week ahead of the official opening of the 2016 SIHH event.
The year 2016 marks the second year in a row, when the company has been reaping the benefits of Jerome Lambert's work, the man behind Jaeger-Le Coultre's revolution. In the past, Jaeger-Le Coultre was tightly linked to the Reverso watch, but, thanks to Lambert's efforts, it is nowadays one of the most complete and attractive historic haute-horlogerie brands in the world. Jerome has decided to use the same method with Montblanc also in my opinion.
The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel is one of the very few chronographs available on the market that is made of gold and that sports an annual calendar and a moon phase mechanism. As officially confirmed by Montblanc, this timepiece is directly inspired by “one of the first wrist chronographs created by Minerva in the 20s” and the decision to follow this path represents an important shift in the company's choices of some years ago. The Villeret collections focus mainly on the Minerva mechanics while the other company's collections are slowly bringing back to life the aesthetic touch of some of the legendary timepieces originally crafted by the manufacturer (the recent 1858 collection is a perfect example of this).
The watch's case measures 42mm and is made of red gold, a precious metal that has recently come back in fashion together with yellow gold and that will be prominently featured in the collections of many of the brands that will take part in this month's event in Geneva. The distribution of the four sectors on the dial is perfectly symmetric and familiar, like in the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Quantieme Annuel Vasco da Gama Limited Edition.
The main difference here lies in the scales of the three sectors of the calendar that are also used to adjust the counters of the chronograph. The fourth sector is located at 3 o'clock and it features a golden hand that indicates the four main cycles of the moon phase. In addition to being an original feature it is also a very smart one, since it makes the dial of the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel aesthetically similar to that of a perpetual calendar. The golden hands are coupled with blue ones; the blue colour is one of Montblanc's favourite hues and it is prominently used on the counters of the Dual Time, the map of the Spirit Orbis Terrarum and the hand-painted hemisphere domes of the Tourbillon Vasco da Gama.
The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel is equipped with an MB 25.09 caliber that guarantees up to 42 hours of power reserve. Each one of these timepieces has undergone a full test that lasts 500 hours and since Montblanc expressly quotes the duration of their tests, it would be interesting to find out which tests is the brand submitting its watches. The leather strap is made of alligator skin and it is produced in Montblanc's leather shop in Florence.
The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel will retail at 19,400 euro. I am usually not a big fan of golden watches, unless they are made of white gold, but I have to admit that the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronographe Quantieme Annuel is a well-balanced timepiece that mixes together interesting complications and a competitive price. Something I would actually improve is probably the wide gap existing between the sapphire and the dial, had it not been that wide, it could have made this timepiece look more compact. It is one of those design tricks that bring out every complicated watch's premium feel, even more when you consider that this timepiece features a complete calendar and a very original display of the moon phase.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®