Recently we co-hosted an evening together with Montblanc, and our readers got to see, touch, and try on the wrist, the latest SIHH 2016 Montblanc timepieces. The Montblanc Black & White Week event, as it is dubbed, was held in the esteemed hotel New York, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. A century ago, this was the place where passengers embarked on a journey to the new world, in an era when many people, often complete families, were about to start a new life on the other side of the ocean. The ‘turn-of-the century” atmosphere was the setting for the Black & White Week event, and the presentation of Montblanc’s 4810 collection. Montblanc asked me to highlight three timepieces in presentation; one ideal first watch, one typical collector’s piece and one high-end complication. Here’s an event recap and my three recommendations, however first a quick overview…
The Annual Watch Fairs
To some extend you could compare the watch industry, or at least the introduction of new models, to for instance the automotive industry. The watch industry, being a much smaller industry (niche, niche, niche), only has a few major shows each year, to present new models. In fact, there are two main fairs, one in Geneva called SIHH and one in Basel called Baselworld, and several smaller fairs. The vast majority of new models is being presented at the Geneva and Basel fairs, which are in fact trade shows. Retailers and trade press (including the Monochrome team) attend these shows to see the new models, to do their annual purchases, and of course to reserve special/limited editions for their valued customers. And the customers will have to wait until summer, and often until the end of the year (the fairs are in January and March/April) before they can get to see the new models at their local retailer. And that’s a long wait, especially for those who have already set their mind on buying that one special piece. For instance the limited edition 4810 ExoTourbillon Slim 110 Years Edition Europe that is limited to only 36 pieces.
Montblanc Black & White Week Event
Every year, a few months after the SIHH, and a few months before the new Montblanc timepieces hit the stores, Montblanc organizes what they call the Montblanc Black & White Week event. This event offer the opportunity for retailers to invite their key customers and bring the entire staff, to see all novelties, before every one else sees ’em. Recently we had the opportunity to invite 15 of our readers to the Black & White Week event, and judging from our reader’s enthusiasm, they had a great time. Fully understandable when you know that they had the chance to try the new ExoTourbillon Slim, the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter, and other pieces, on the wrist, and stare at the movements in total awe.
Because Montblanc celebrates their 110th anniversary, they decided to opt for a location befitting the period when the brand was founded. It all happened in hotel New York, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, that was the place where the big ocean liners in the early 1900’s started their journey to the promised country, the United States of America. In this beautiful historic building, right at the harder of Rotterdam (one of the biggest harbors in the world) is now a hotel and a restaurant. During the evening a band played, food and drinks were well taken care off, the guests talking about and of course admired (drooled over) the watches, and a watchmaker was present to show and explain everything about the movements at hand.
Montblanc asked me to present three of the new models to the guests of the evening, and to specify what I think could be A) a perfect first watch, B) a collector’s piece and C) a high-end complication. Now that’s easy. Montblanc’s collections offer a wide range of choices, both for those who are looking for their first beautiful timepiece, as well as for those looking for something a little more special (and yes, that’s an understatement).
Montblanc 4810 Date Automatic – First off is a piece that was introduced in January, and is part of the revamped 4810 collection. The entire line has been on a diet and looks and feel slimmer and more elegant. Despite the ‘affordable luxury’ price point of the 4810 collection, all models feature a rather mesmerising guilloche dial. Don’t stare at the dial for too long, because you will be hypnotised and purchase it.
The watch has it all: a great size (42mm in diameter, and just 9.8 mm thick), a striking guilloche dial and it indicates hours, minutes, seconds and the date. Very complete, and beautiful, and it comes on a nice alligator leather strap. The lugs on the stainless steel case, are downward sloping and quite short, which contribute to a very nice fit on the wrist. All that for a price of a tad north of € 2,700 Euros. Not bad, and for sure this makes a great “first” watch.
Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter – Next on the list is a collector’s piece and what more could a collector wish for than one of the most striking chronograph calibres of all times. It’s already 20 years since Montblanc acquired the old Minerva manufacture, and saved it from a downfall. Besides an interesting and rich heritage, Minerva brought the brand several highly interesting movements. The old hand-wound Pythagora movement that was recently relaunched in the TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light prototype is one of them. Movements that are probably higher on collector’s wish lists, are the chronograph calibres. End of last year, Montblanc introduced the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter that comprises the stunning Calibre MB 16.29.
What can I say… this movement is just stunning. One of the details that I so much like, is are the chronograph hammers with the “devil’s tail” that is so typical for the old Minerva chronograph calibres. Furthermore, all functions are operated by a mono pusher, which actuates a column-wheel. Both mono-pushers chronographs, and chronographs with a column-wheel are sought-after, however when the movement features both a column-wheel and mono-pusher, it belongs to the most coveted chronograph movements.
This stainless steel version comes at a retail price of € 25,000 Euros and although that’s not ‘cheap’ relatively speaking it’s a bargain! Movements of comparable beauty and finish are rare, and the few available come at prices double of this Montblanc. Let’s agree… resistance is futile, especially when the dial is of such beauty.
Montblanc 4810 ExoTourbillon Slim – Lastly the big complication and although a tourbillon is ‘officially’ no complication (complications are added functions, and the tourbillon is merely a device to increase timing performance) I choose the 4810 ExoTourbillon Slim. For various reason! First of all it is such a striking watch to see, with its lovely guilloche (upper) dial and the beautifully finished tourbillon bridge. This bridge has been finished by hand, and this takes an experienced watchmaker up to 5 working days! Patience is a virtue.
Again, dimension are very nice and it measures 42mm in diameter and 10.14mm in height. Short downward sloping lugs ensure a comfortable wear on the wrist, as does the slim profile of the watch. I guess it’s the most affordable tourbillon on the market with a retail price of approx. € 35,000 Euros. Well, except for the TAG Heuer Heuer-02 Tourbillon, which the brand still has not presented to us and I’d love to look at it through a loupe! So as long as I have not seen that one with my own eyes, I’ll consider it a myth.
The 4810 ExoTourbillon is packed with interesting features. For starters it’s no ordinary tourbillon, it’s an ExoTourbillon. Montblanc invented (and patented) this type of tourbillon that is lighter, consumes less energy, less vulnerable to shocks, and still offers that lovely visual “tourbillon” treat. We’ll soon publish a video to explain the ExoTourbillon, so keep an eye for that one.
The ExoTourbillon Slim is powered by a rather thin movement with a micro-rotor, and the movement itself measures 30mm in diameter and only 4.5mm in height. One of the unexpected feats is the second-stop mechanism that stops the tourbillon when you pull the crown. This allows you to set the watch more precise. When you push the crown to the winding position again, the small ‘whip’ that stopped the tourbillon, now gives the balance a soft kick to start the vibrating again. The 4810 ExoTourbillon also comes in three additional versions, to celebrate the maison’s 110th anniversary, and these three versions feature a hand-painted dial showing one of the three continents (America, Europe, and Asia).
I’d like to thank everyone who attended, and I hope you enjoyed a great evening!