Swiss Watchmaker since 1858
Over 160 years of tradition
The Montblanc watchmaking story began in 1858, when Charles-Yvan Robert founded his workshop in Villeret, in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Though he didn’t realise it at the time, this marked the beginning of the historic Minerva era. Over the century-and-ahalf that followed, Minerva would become one of the world’s leading specialists in precision chronometry for professionals.
By the 1880s, the manufacture had built a solid reputation for innovation with pocket watches that were wound with the crown, leaving traditional winding keys behind. And that was just the beginning. Minerva then turned its focus to precision timing, becoming a leading specialist in the fabrication of professional pocket watches and stopwatches.
It began with a line of monopusher chronographs, culminating in 1916 with the production of a stopwatch accurate to 1/100th of a second. Just a few years later Minerva invented the calibre 13.20, one of the first manually wound monopusher chronographs ever developed for wristwatches, marking a new chapter in the manufacture’s history. Around a decade later, the legendary calibre 17.29 made its debut – one of the slimmest monopusher chronographs, measuring just 5.6 mm in height.
"The watchmakers have the know-how to produce their own balance springs entirely by hand."
The original Minerva ateliers remain abuzz with activity, today serving as the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. Every movement component is still carefully crafted and decorated by hand, even including the balance springs. The manufacture is one of a very select few around the world in which the watchmakers have the know-how to produce their own balance springs entirely by hand. Length is measured not with today’s electronics, but by well-trained eyes, in accordance with tradition, for the utmost accuracy.
Today, Montblanc timepieces continue the journey of Minerva’s over 160-year legacy in four fine watchmaking explorations: Star Legacy, 1858, Bohème and Heritage, every lines are linking the past and the present through design, style and technical innovation.
Two manufacturers. One passion.
Bringing a Montblanc timepiece to life requires centuries of accumulated knowledge, decades of experience, years of development and hundreds of hours of dedicated labour. With their skills and knowledge handed down through generations, the watchmakers at the Montblanc Manufactures in Villeret and Le Locle put their pride, passion and soul into each timepiece.
As the former home of Minerva, the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret upholds the Manufacture’s legacy of expertise. Here, Montblanc’s Movement & Innovation Excellence Centre continues to enrich fine Swiss watchmaking with major innovations.
"Watchmakers chamfer every edge, polish even the tiniest wheel and adorn plates and bridges."
Following in the footsteps of Minerva, the watchmakers developed a suspended Exo Tourbillon that features a balance wheel that is 3.2 mm higher than the dial and appears to be floating above it. This watchmaking expertise gained from high complications is also applied to the creation of functional small complications. In the Manufacture’s ateliers, all the movements’ components are meticulously crafted and decorated by hand using traditional methods. The watchmakers chamfer every edge, polish even the tiniest wheel and adorn plates and bridges with the traditional circular graining and ‘Côtes de Genève’ stripes.
Their great dexterity and skill are also indispensable in crafting delicate balance springs, an accomplishment only very few watch manufactures manage. The Manufacture in Le Locle is Montblanc’s Watch & Quality Excellence Centre, where traditional watchmaking merges with the latest technologies. From aesthetic design to construction and prototyping, all the expertise necessary to create a distinctive timepiece is concentrated here. Manifested in a superior level of craftsmanship and timelessly elegant design codes, the horological knowledge of the two manufactures is deeply embedded in all Montblanc timepieces, passing on the passion for fine watchmaking from grand complication timepieces to refined three-hand watches.
Inspired by historical Minerva classic wristwatches from the 1940s and 1950s, the Heritage timepieces combine the elegance of watchmaking past with today’s bold design codes and technology.
Chronograph with old-school international payphone indications, Circa 1945.
Heritage Monopusher Chronograph.
The Montblanc 1858 finds its inspiration in the world of mountain exploration. Reinterpreting the Minerva pocket watches and chronographs from the 1920s and 1930s, the 1858 timepieces capture the spirit of the past in a modern way, expressing the trend of returning to nature and adventure.
Professional chronograph from 1930‘s.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere.
With Star Legacy, Montblanc pays tribute to Minerva’s iconic Star Collection. While retaining the key elements of legendary timepieces like the Gold Hunter pocket watch, it continues the journey of classical fine watchmaking with a modern design and enhanced finishes.
Hunter Pocket Watch Circa 1910.
Montblanc Star Legacy Full Calendar.