Hands on with the Montblanc TimeWalker TwinFly GreyTech
During the fair in Geneva, we got hands on time with the new Montblanc TimeWalker TwinFly GreyTech. This is a new ‘Monochrome’ version of the ‘normal’ TimeWalker TwinFly that Montblanc introduced last year.
The TimeWalker TwinFly features the impressive in-house movement, caliber MB LL100. Like the first caliber-family, which is used in the Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, it has a double mainspring barrel offering a power reserve of 72 hours and a chronograph that is actuated through a column wheel and vertical clutch!
The in-house movement is very impressive and when considering the price of the TwinFly, it’s even better. The specifications and the fact it has an in-house movement, are usually not found in watches in the same price range. Let’s take a look at the specifications:
- In-house automatic chronograph caliber
- Double flyback function (seconds and minutes)
- Column wheel and vertical disc clutch
- Second time zone with 24 hour display
- Two mainspring barrels with 72 hours of power reserve
Most watches in the price range up to roughly € 5,000 Euro are equipped with either an ETA/Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph (which can be recognized by the registers at 6, 9 and 12) or a tri-compax ETA 2894 (tri-compax chronographs have registers at 3, 6 and 9). These offer a power reserve of around 40-45 hours and the chronograph is activated by levers and/or cams.
The photo on the left shows a detail of the movement of a Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 Vintage Chronograph. The red arrow points at the column-wheel. If one of the chronograph pushers is pushed, this wheel will rotate and the various parts of the several ‘fingers’ will fall into or be pushed out of the spaces between the teeth. The ‘fingers’ are parts of levers, which control the chronograph.
A more common way to actuate the chronograph is ‘slideway switching’, which uses a cam that coordinates the start, stop and reset. So the cam actually performs the same function as the column-wheel, however the cam is rather long. Because of this, the chronographs using a ‘slideway switch’ or cam might give less feeling of ‘control’ than a chronograph that is actuated by a column-wheel.
Producing and finishing a column-wheel is labor-intensive and so is the hand adjustment that a column-wheel requires. The pinion can be built using pieces of stamped metal.
The TimeWalker TwinFly also uses a vertical clutch system to engage the chronograph. There are actually two ways to engage a chronograph; the vertical clutch and gear mesh coupling. While gear mesh coupling is the classic approach, it suffers from loss of beat amplitude and runs the risk of a skip in the second hand motion. The vertical friction approach, of vertical clutch, might be less interesting to look at but assures a smooth and low-impact start of chronograph movement. This is something that can be seen, when starting a chronograph.
When a chronograph with a vertical clutch is started, the seconds hand will start immediately and it’ll be at the correct speed once it activated. The seconds hand of a chronograph using gear mesh coupling will show a ‘slow’ start that looks like it has to gain speed.
Besides all the impressive technicality, the movement is in the same ‘monochrome’ color-scheme as the rest of the watch. The bridges are finished with Côte de Genève stripes and are black/grey coated. The rotor is mostly skeletonized accept for the Montblanc logo.
The case of the TimeWalker TwinFly has the familiar TimeWalker design with skeletonized lugs. This particular GreyTech version, which is limited to 888 pieces, has a ‘monochrome’ design and the chromatic spectrum is primarily reduced to a narrow range from black to silvery grey. The titanium case and lugs have been satinized, while the bezel and pushers are bead-blasted to get a rougher finish. The crown features the well-known Montblanc logo and the screws to secure the strap also feature the logo.
The dial is skeletonized to reveal the date wheel, which is grey with black numerals. The Arabic hour numerals and stick markers are printed in black, on a grey dial. In the middle of the dial is a checkered pattern.
Centrally positioned are the seconds and minute counter of the chronograph. This is where the TwinFly part of the name comes from, because these hands have a fly-back function. Around the checkered middle is the chronograph minute index printed in white numerals.
A flyback chrono works as follows: after the chrono button starts the chronograph is pushed, the chronograph is activated and the central seconds hand starts running. To record a second time, push the reset button, while the chronograph is running, to reset the central seconds hand and the hand that indicates the elapsed minutes. The instant you release that button, the chronograph will continue timing. Opposed to a normal chrono this requires only one push of a button to start recording a new elapsed time, while the normal chrono would require pushing the stop button, pushing the reset button and again pushing the start button again.
At the 6 o’clock position is the running seconds counter and at the 12 o’clock position is the second time zone, displayed in 24 hours.
With a diameter of 43 mm it wears great and if you’re afraid it might be too large than by all means go and try one at a local AD. Because the case tapers from top to bottom, it wears relatively small, which is further enhanced because of the quite short lugs. Altogether it wears very comfortable. The material of the case, titanium, also adds to this because it’s quite light.
The TwinFly GreyTech comes on a grey alligator strap, with a skeletonized titanium clasp and is available for € 10,990 Euro (including tax). The stainless steel version on strap comes at a price of € 5,800 Euro, on bracelet for € 6,000 Euro.