Ben Clymer and our own Frank Geelen go hands-on with the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage collection
Hands-on with the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph with Minerva Monopusher Chronograph
Before and during the SIHH 2014, in January of this year, we showed you most of the new Montblanc timepieces. We owe you some good hands-on reports about the new pieces, especially of the Meisterstück Heritage collection. During the SIHH we sat down with Ben Clymer, founder and executive editor from Hodinkee, to discuss the new Meisterstück Heritage collection and today we’re going to review his (and our) favourite, the Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph.
If we have to choose a favourite, it is most definitely the Heritage Pulsograph. Simply because it offers a hand-made, fully hand-finished, absolutely stunning movement, for an extremely competitive price. In that perspective it perfectly fits in the Meisterstück Heritage collection, as the price level of all timepieces in this collection is almost shockingly competitive. And that’s something that most have surprised not only you and us, but also the competition. One thing became immediately clear, when we handled the new timepieces, the make, the quality, and the finish are not affected by the competitive price level.
You might remember the Heritage Perpetual Calendar, which is the most affordable mechanical watch with a perpetual calendar on the market today, starting at € 10k Euro in steel. To the left is the Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase and to the right is today’s focus, the Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph. This is a limited edition of 90 pieces, to pay homage to the Meisterstück fountain pen (which was born nine decades ago in 1924), and to the pen’s 90th anniversary. The Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph is available for the spectacular retail price of € 27,000 Euro.
With the Heritage Pulsograph, for the very first time Montblanc integrates the work of its two manufactures. The movement used in the Heritage Pulsograph, comes from the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. This used to be the old Minerva Manufacture that fabricated in 1923 one of the first chronograph calibres for wristwatches and thus paved the way for the success of mechanical wristwatch chronographs. Vintage Minerva chronographs are highly collectable today and with right so, as their movement are among the most beautiful chronograph calibres ever produced. The movement in the Heritage Pulsograph is the noteworthy Minerva calibre MB M13.21, which is based on the Minerva calibre 13.20 that was first manufactured in 1923.
The beautiful calibre MB M13.21 embodies all the distinguishing features of classical chronograph mechanisms and the traditional watchmaker’s art. The chronograph’s function is actuated with a column-wheel and horizontal gear coupling, and for the wearer there’s one pusher to start, stop and return the chronograph register hands to zero.
The finishing is of the very highest degree, and without saying it’s unparalleled, it finds its equals among the very best watch brands with abbreviations like PP, VC and AP. This is classic Haute Horlogerie of the highest degree. All levers and springs are polished on their flat surfaces, satin-finished on their sides, and manually bevelled along their edges. All functional planes are individually and manually adjusted in each movement to maximize the smoothness and reliability with which the button triggers the commands.
A similar luxurious finishing has been applied on all other components of the movement. The plate and bridges are fabricated from rhodium-plated nickel silver; the bridges are bevelled by hand, and the chamfered surfaces are then manually polished. Classical Geneva waves embellish the planar surfaces of the bridges, while the main plate is adorned with pèrlage.
The V-shaped chronograph-bridge is an eye-catching and characteristic feature: inspired by its counterpart in Minerva’s legendary chronograph Calibre 13.20. The bridge proudly bears the name “Minerva Villeret”. And my favourite part of the entire movement, again a typical Minerva feat, is the small pointy arrow at the end of one of the levers.
Calibre MB M13.21 features a large massy screw balance that oscillates at the classical pace of 18,000 vph (2.5 hertz). Both the balance and the hairspring, which ends in a Philips terminal curvature, are manufactured and manually adjusted in-house. Not many manufactures have the knowledge and skills in-house to produce hairsprings, however the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret does and Montblanc equips all its Collection Villeret pieces with their own hairsprings.
The watch’s pace allows for timing elapsed intervals that is accurate to a fifth of a second, and this can be read on the pulsometer scale that circumferences the dial. Calibrated for 30 pulsations, a pulsometer scale enables a doctor to read the pulse rate per minute without having to continue feeling the patient’s pulse for a full sixty seconds.
The Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph will be available in an elegant 41 mm case made of 18 karat rose gold. A Montblanc diamond, cut and polished to form the emblem of the maison, is inset into the middle piece of the case at “6 o’clock”. As a valuable but unostentatious symbol, it shows that this watch is equipped with a manufacture calibre. Since it’s only visible to the wearer, it also serves as a little secret for the owner.
The 41 mm three-part case features a polished bezel, case back and lugs, at least as seen from the dial side. The sides of the lugs and the case band, feature a horizontal satin finishing. All models of the Meisterstück Heritage collection come in a case with similar finish and make, and are all relatively small and classic in proportions. The Heritage Perpetual Calendar and Heritage Moonphase are 39 mm, and all other models, including the Heritage Pulsograph, are 41 mm in diameter.
Also new and exclusive for the Meisterstück Heritage collection, is the crown. For the first time it doesn’t feature the recognizable black on white Montblanc emblem, however it features Montblanc’s emblem in polished, raised relief against a matte sand-blasted background.
The cambered, silver-white dials have been embellished with sunburst patterns and an applied Roman numeral “XII”. The dauphine hands sweep around the dial with polished faceted appliqués in three different lengths. The watch comes on a black alligator strap with large scales and is closed by a rose gold ‘ardillon’ buckle.
Although the Meisterstück Heritage collection is a very interesting value proposition, it is also a magnificent ‘Haute Horlogerie’ quality proposition offering the brand’s most beautiful hand-finished movement in the Pulsograph, and a classic and appealing complication like the perpetual calendar.
More hands-on reports about the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage collection will follow soon after Baselworld. PLease visit www.montblanc.com for more info on this collection and to find your nearest retailer.
Thanks to Ben Clymer, Hodinkee’s founder and executive editor, for a great conversation.