PASSION FROM SWITZERLAND
Centuries of collected knowledge, decades of experience, years of development and hundreds of hours of dedicated labour – they all culminate in a Montblanc timepiece coming to life. The watchmakers at Montblanc locations in Villeret and Le Locle put their pride, passion and soul into each timepiece using skills that have been handed down through generations.
CELEBRATING 160 YEARS OF LEGACY
Montblanc’s watchmaking tradition began 160 years ago, when in 1858 Charles-Yvan Robert founded a watch workshop in the Saint-Imier valley, starting the Minerva era. Today, Minerva is home of the Montblanc location in Villeret. In its heyday it was one of the leading specialists in professional watches for measuring small intervals of time with high precision. As early as the 1880s, the Montblanc location had started to specialise in pocket watches that could be wound with a crown. They were among the first to be wound without a separate key and were the reason for Minerva's early success and expansion. The innovative timepieces also attracted attention at various world exhibitions of the time, winning prestigious awards. At the beginning of the 20th century, they started to develop monopusher chronographs and gained recognition for its precise chronometry, becoming a leading specialist in the fabrication of professional watches and stopwatches. Minerva shaped the history of professional timekeeping in a way that few other watch manufactures did. The journey to new heights continued throughout the 20th century with multiple achievements, innovative patents and trailblazing timekeeping technology, resulting in highly precise stopwatches that kept time exact to the 1/100th of a second. Those developments symbolise the level of mastery and innovation obtained by Minerva since 1858, and consolidate its reputation in the manufacture of pocket watches and chronographs. The Montblanc timepieces of today continue the journey of the 160-year Minerva legacy in three fine watchmaking explorations:
Montblanc reinterprets its iconic Star Collection, paying tribute to the extraordinary Minerva heritage, which dates back to 1858, enhancing the level of classic finish and sophistication of the design while keeping the key elements.
The Maison brings its manufacture expertise to new exclusive in-house complications that push the boundaries of fine watchmaking. Reminiscent of the historical Minerva pocket watches that were made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the Gold Hunter Calibre 19”’ from 1927, the Montblanc Star Legacy timepieces feature round cases with elegant curved finishes to the sides that give a refined pebble-shaped effect. The result is enhanced by horns that have steps on the side. In the spirit of classical watchmaking, the crowns stand out with their recognisable and easy-grip onion-shape and are adorned with the Montblanc emblem. The dials are highlighted by Arabic numerals whose shape and size have been redesigned and refined. The dial is further enhanced by the addition of the iconic exploding star guilloché pattern. Other aesthetic details include a unique railway minute track and a beautiful filet sauté guilloché running around the dial.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Collection pays homage to the Minerva 160-year legacy by returning to the early 20th century and the glory days of motor racing with timepieces that are dedicated to performance.
This racing passion started in the early 20th century, when new engines and lighter car bodies led to faster speeds. As the winners were determined by the slimmest margins, the need for devices that could measure even the smallest intervals was more acute than ever. At the time, Minerva was one of the leading specialists in the fabrication of high-quality instruments for measuring brief intervals of time with remarkable precision. Timekeepers such as the 1/100th of a second stopwatch and the famous “Rally Timers” that were made especially for timing motor racing with precision are just a couple of examples that make up this rich horological heritage. Minerva shaped the history of performance timing with its stopwatches present at legendary sporting events around the world. The TimeWalker Collection harks back to Minerva’s line of professional instruments with contemporary timepieces that combine a vintage-themed style with performance, innovation, great legibility and robustness. Always attentive to functionality and precision, all the Montblanc TimeWalker watches feature the Minerva arrow either on the hands or the movement – paying tribute to the Minerva heritage and its 160 years of watchmaking history.
The Montblanc 1858 finds its inspiration in the world of mountain exploration. Reinterpreting the Minerva pocket watches and chronographs from the 1920s and 1930s that were meant for military and mountaineers boasting high accuracy, legibility and robustness for use in extreme conditions – the new Montblanc 1858 watches evoke the spirit of the past in a modern way, expressing the discovery and back-to-nature trends.The new vintage exploration-inspired timepieces feature distinctive aesthetics, innovative complications, a mix of materials such as a special alloy of bronze and a choice of different case sizes. They capture the spirit of the past in a modern way, expressing the trend of back to nature and the growing interest for adventure.
The vintage codes are directly rooted in the military timepieces from the 20s and 30s with distinctive designs that are reminiscent of period chronographs. The satin-finished cases have been slightly reworked with horns that have been slimmed down thanks to polished, bevelled edges that underline their shape. Other details include fluted crowns that recall period timepieces and domed sapphire crystal glass boxes, increasing the vintage appeal and robustness of each watch. The dials feature striking colour contrasts with their historical luminescent cathedral-shaped hands with a “cloisonné” design, that have been slightly domed for the finest finish; Arabic numerals coated with SuperLumiNova®; railway minute tracks and the original Montblanc logo from the 1930s era with its historical font and emblem of the Mont Blanc Mountain.
With over 160 years of uninterrupted Swiss watchmaking heritage, Montblanc fine watchmaking is built on a unique set-up that brings two manufactures together seamlessly to create the finest timepieces and the most innovative calibres that the highest level of Swiss watchmaking can deliver.
The Montblanc factory in Villeret, Montblanc’s Movement & Innovation Excellence Center, is located in the same building in which the legendary Minerva was founded in 1858 and focuses on the development, prototyping and assembly of all in-house movements from innovative and groundbreaking high-complications to small highly functional complications.
This location in Villeret is one of the last ones where most of the traditional horological operations, with all their micromechanical refinements, are still meticulously performed by hand – almost as though each timepiece were individually crafted as a unique item.
The company is one of the very few manufacturers able to draw on the master watchmakers, the original tools and the expertise needed to develop and produce mechanical timepieces in keeping with authentic Swiss watchmaking tradition. Following the principles of their heritage, and with constant innovation, the artisans in Villeret present exclusive developments that differ in many respects from anything that modern haute horlogerie has ever created.
At the Montblanc’s Watch & Quality Excellence Centre in Le Locle, traditional watchmaking is paired with state-of-the art technology. This is where traditional watchmaking merges with the latest technology. From aesthetic design to construction, prototyping and final assembly, all the expertise necessary to create an iconic timepiece is concentrated here.
Once the countless parts have been skilfully put together at the factory in Le Locle, the highest mark of distinction for a newly-created Montblanc timepiece is passing the rigorous testing procedure of the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 – which tests for utmost precision and absolute perfection. The timepieces undergo a variety of controls and checks over a period of 500 hours: daily wear and tear, water resistance, numerous settings and re-settings, different climatic conditions, as well as a check of all their specific functions. It is a demanding and tough procedure that guarantees the functionality of even the most technically complex features.
The master watchmakers of the Montblanc Manufacture combine the brand’s values with genuine Swiss watchmaking precision and thus harmonise perfectly with the company’s high expectations concerning craftsmanship and quality standards.
Once the countless parts have been skilfully put together, the mark of distinction for a newly created Montblanc timepiece is passing the rigorous testing procedure of the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 – which tests for utmost precision and absolute perfection.
The timepieces undergo a variety of controls and checks over a period of 500 hours: daily wear and tear, water resistance, numerous settings and re-settings, different climatic conditions, as well as a check of all their specific functions. It is a demanding and tough procedure that guarantees the functionality of even the most technically complex features.
The watch is only released for delivery once the quality assurance team at Montblanc's location in Le Locle is convinced that a watch upholds Montblanc’s strict quality standards. Each watch that passes the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 is issued with an individual test certificate – labelling it worthy of Montblanc’s strict and high-quality standards.