BUILDING ON A LEGACY
For its latest iteration of the Timewalker collection, Montblanc returns to Villeret to crystallise the essence of a professional sport watch.
At Santa Monica beach, Montblanc had gathered members of its exclusive 4810 Club – the number signifies the height in metres of its namesake
mountain – to preview its 2017 Montblanc Timewalker collection.
Earlier that day, the group had been treated to a session with a trio of living legends in rally racing and automobile design: Kiwi Rhys Millen, who triumphed in the US’ top drifting series of Formula D; Finnish rally drive Ari Vatanen turned member of the European Parliament (1999 to 2009); and Dane Henrik Fisker, the designer behind automotive icons such as the BMW Z8, Aston Ma rt i n ’ s DB9, Fisker Karma and the GalpinFisker Mustang Rocket. His sage words re s ou nd e d through the room: “When you have the passion for something – it drives you to create extraordinary things.”
Very much in the same vein, the classic
“When you have the passion for something – it drives you to create extraordinary things.”
cars that chauffeured the group out to lunch at Larry Thorne Farm in Malibu demonstrated the same exalted spirit of aweinspiring performance merged with outstanding design – icons of their time that grew into the legends of today. For Montblanc, all of these shared qualities in design, performance and legacy-building meaningfully leads back to its breakthrough Timewalker collection, which debuted to the world just last month at Geneva’s Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH).
As stated by Jens Henning Koch, Montblanc I nter nationa l ’s executive vice president for marketing, the idea of evolving the maison’s professional sports watch line germinated nearly two years ago. The rich trove of timepieces at Montblanc’s high horology workshop in Villeret – the former Minerva manufacture which it bought over – provided inspirational foundation blocks.
“We found a rally timer that Minerva had made in 1916 when they were really into racing,” Koch says. Even before then, Minerva’s accomplishments had included stopwatches which measured a 10th of a second before its crowning achievement of 1916 – which enabled readings of a 100th of a second. Montblanc’s present- day reflection of this legendary stopwatch is manifested in its top- of-the-line Timewalker Chronograph 1000 wristawatch (€ 175,000, RM825,000). Harking back to the recordbusting spirit of Miner va’s 1916 technical ability, this exclusive of fering is limited to only 18 pieces. Each is composed of a 46.4mm titanium case, black DLC coating – for scratch resistance – and a titanium monopusher at 12 o’clock. Inside, the patented Manufacture Calibre MB M66.26 offers engineering wizardry that results in dual mechanical
Minerva’s accomplishments had included stopwatches which measured a 10th of a second before its crowning achievement of 1916 – which enabled readings of a 100th of a second.
organs; the first to indicate time and the second dedicated to the chronograph. The latter is able to measure 1,000th of a second through a symphonic interplay of a balance running at 360,000 semi- oscillations per hour –and a tiny steel plate that instantaneously holds this balance the moment the stop function is triggered. Two patents and 22 auxiliary patents indicate the innovation within this high-frequency movement against a global backdrop of high horology.
Chronograph enthusiasts will find plenty of interest in the construction of these highperformance movements, with helical steel springs used for rapid start stop versus the flat steel springs that break easily when heavily stressed. The high-level watchmaking at Montblanc’s Villeret manufacture considers all the internal angles of its 488 components resulting in a robust, synchronous unit. To further augment this point, Montblanc subjects each piece to its arduous Laboratory Test 500 certification – a simulation of intense real-life usage across three weeks.
For Davide Cerrato, Montblanc International’s managing director for watches, the evolution of the previous generation Timewalkers – launched in 2007 – into fully professional luxury sports watches hinged on the performance expected by the market. “This meant combining a sporty design with elements of visibility in low lighting, overall quality including straps and clasps, waterproofness on the case, joints and pusher buttons, as well as subjecting it to
The chronograph is able to measure 1,000th of a second.
gruelling conditions which we do, in our Laboratory Test 500.”
To consolidate the heritage of motor racing, ceramic bezels and perforated rubber straps were introduced in the current Timewalker variants which also comprise the Chronograph UTC, Chronograph Automatic and Automatic Date. In addition, Minerva’s historical Rally Timer stopwatch which was used to record road racing nearly a century ago becomes the basis of the exuberant Timewalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter (€37,000). “I can’t remember when I had worked on something like this before – a transformable, playful approach which leaves a unique impression,” Cerrato says of the Chronograph Rally Timer Counter.
The functional design on this piece allows it to seamlessly convert from wristwatch to pocket watch and even dashboard clock. Its 50mm satinated case is made of Grade Two titanium with a knurled midsection and monopusher, embellishing it with vintage character. An open caseback in the shape of a car grille offers further incentive for owners to observe the beauty of the manual-winding calibre MB M16.29, boasting column wheel and horizontal coupling, recalling the 1930s Minerva calibre that was utilised for both pocket and wristwatches. At the climactic conclusion to the Timewalker preview, guests found themselves at Honeypot – a modish creative space in downtown Los Angeles. Here, guests were greeted by several more American odes to high-performance machines and rapturous design. Among them were the 1957 Ford Thunderbird, 1963 Mercury Comet and 1958 Chrysler Imperial, one of only 1,800 that was built. It was also here where the complete showing of the Timewalker 2017 collection was displayed; from the Automatic Date up to the king- ofthe-hill Chronograph 1000. “There are many subtleties which we introduced into the new Timewalker collection to maintain the identity of this successful line,” Koch explains. “When your starting point is already a successful collection, you have to be careful like you would with the bodywork of an important car. What we have achieved is the enrichment of this collection through pinpoint
Ceramic bezels and perforated rubber straps were introduced in the current Timewalker variants.
uses of red, guilloche, the Minerva arrow, shiny ceramic on the bezel and special grid patterns to improve the tactility of this new collection,” he points out.
Under the hood of the Chronograph 1000, the superlative new Manufacture Calibre MB M66.26 remains a connoisseur’s desire. Meanwhile, Cerrato’s undoubted touch in crafting this collection heralds a new generation of Timewalker enthusiasts; those who may be unfamiliar with the collection but will undoubtedly identify with the strong automobile racing identity – an identity forged over generations of gentlemanly competition and good sportsmanship, from a century and over before today. www.montblanc.comδ
The superlative new Manufacture Calibre MB M66.26 remains a connoisseur’s desire.