Exclusive Hands-On – Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept (and yes, it is really very light…)
Last week, we announced to you a very interesting piece from Montblanc, a concept watch made with one single idea in mind: lightness. Indeed, the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept is said to weight ONLY 14.88 grams – which, even if difficult to comprehend what it means, is a serious achievement. Last week we traveled to Switzerland for a series of visits and interviews, including Montblanc, we asked Davide Cerrato, the new head of watches, to bring this watch to us. And here are the very first shots of the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept and our impressions of this light-as-a-feather watch strapped on the wrist… and of course more details about what it’s gonna be in the future.
In the press release that Montblanc sent last week, they announced having created an extremely light watch, in fact one of the lightest mechanical watches ever manufactured: the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept, with 14.88 grams. This number alone remains quite difficult to understand. As a comparison, just take three sheets of papers, A4 format, and roll them around your wrist… Which do weight more than this watch (just measured this by myself, three A4 paper sheets weight 16.5 grams). As a comparison, a normal Montblanc Timewalker in steel on leather strap is 87 grams. A solid dive watch on metallic bracelet is around 160 grams. Thus, a mechanical watch under 15 grams is very, very light. And as a reminder, the lightest mechanical watch to date is the Richard Mille RM 27-02 Nadal, with 19 grams (for the entire watch + strap).
What we didn’t know yet was the means of these 14.88 grams? Was it for the case without movement, for the entire watch with strap, for the case only? In fact, it corresponds to the watch with movement, without the strap. There’s a simple reason for announcing this number. The watch you see here is a concept, not yet finalized, especially for the strap. The goal of Montblanc is of course to have the lightest possible strap, in order to fit the entire lightweight concept. Thus, Montblanc is now challenging several suppliers, for them to come up with an ultra-light material or a solution to gain weight – carbon fiber, synthetic materials or skeletonized / opened construction. Without mentioning it, we guess that the goal here is to have a strap under 4 grams, just to have a watch under the actual record, at 19 grams (note: this is a personal assumption).
How does it feel on the wrist? Well, to say that the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept is light would be easy. In fact, it’s not just light. It’s almost impossible to feel that you have a watch strapped on the wrist. What reminds you the presence of a timepiece on your wrist is more the contact of the case on your skin rather than its weight. The watch is small as well (40mm) and thus never disturbing. The strap, even if not the final version, remains extremely light too and supple. The attachment via velcro also helps to perfectly adjust the watch on the wrist and to obtain the most comfortable and secured position possible. Of course this is not the most elegant option, but do keep in mind that the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light is a concept, made to be worn intensively by a sports guy.
How did Montblanc achieved such a light watch? First of all, it comes from the material used for the case. We’re not talking about metals here but a high-tech resin. The 40mm central container, the caseback, the bezel and the crown are made out of ITR2 Kevlar/Carbon. ITR2 – for Innovative, Technical, Revolutionary Resin – is a composite material charged with carbon nanotubes. It is extremely difficult to manufacture but it’s also eight times lighter than steel and four times lighter than titanium. As you can see, its texture isn’t purely smooth not entirely black. It shows particles, as the resin is here combined with kevlar and carbon fiber. Again, not the most elegant material seen around but certainly one of the best compromises in terms of solidity and weight-saving properties. The rest of the case – understand the horns modules on the sides – is made of DLC coated titanium, with a brushed finish. The design is the recent evolution of the TimeWalker family, meaning sharp and straight lines, with the signature hollowed lugs – but here, not decorative Montblanc emblem, like in the TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph LE100.
To maximize the reduction of weight, Montblanc gets rid of the normal dial / movement / caseback construction and fits an opened edition of the famous Pythagore movement, which also serves as a plate for the indications. Enclosed in the middle of an opened structure – which serves as minute and hour track – the Minerva movement exposes all its entrails. Every part visible is made out of titanium or reduced to its simplest form to shed weight. Even the second track at 6 is directly attached to the movement. The back of the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept again reveals a strong work on the bridges, also made out of lightweight titanium.
As technical and sporty is the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept, the movement remains a Minerva Pythagore and it shows the actual high-end finish of the manufacture. All the angles are beveled, the sinks are polished and the wheels and screws are all executed with great care. Of course, some pointed out a strange look of the movement or of the entire watch, considering the Minerva link. However, do keep in mind here the work done on the movement and not the look, indeed very technical. We’ve seen the movement from close and it really deserves its Minerva name. And the good point is that it keeps the same architecture of the bridges than the old Pythagore movements.
What to expect with this Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept? What is the price? When will we see it in stores? As we’ve been confirmed by Montblanc, this watch is a concept and, for the moment, only intended to be made for demonstrative use. Indeed, the watch has been created for a specific purpose and for a specific person, Montblanc Ambassador and Chinese professional badminton player, Lin Dan – which explains the five stars engraved for the five most important championships won of the Badminton’s Grand Slam and the two stars engraved for the two rounds of the Badminton’s Grand Slam won by “Super Dan”. In its actual form, this watch will probably never hit stores – never say never but probability is low. It’s a showcase watch and certainly a research and development field for Montblanc. The material could be potentiality used in later watches, the movement, with its opened bridges, could be found in other editions… So no price announced and no availability either.
Concept or not, available or not, this Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept is extremely impressive and really unexpected from a brand like Montblanc, more used to traditional designs and affordable luxury. Such a concept of extremely light and highly technical watch is not the field of expertise where you expect the German brand but this new TimeWalker clearly sets Montblanc in a new direction. It’s refreshing and promising for the future. About the watch itself, considering the ultra-light construction, we can clearly argue that the work done here is impressive, mainly because the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept remains highly traditional and close to a normal watch, to the exception of the material used. The movement, even if deeply reworked, is known. The case keeps an usual design and normal proportions. Legibility and user-experience, lightness apart, are just the same as a normal watch and Montblanc even apply some haute horlogerie executions. Well done. Very curious to see where this concept will lead in a close future. More details on montblanc.com.
Specifications of the Montblanc TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept
- Case: 40mm diamater – Ultra-light material mix consisting of titanium, DLC & ITR2®Kevlar®/Carbon – sapphire crystal on front and back – 30m water resistant – Weight (without strap) 14.88 grams
- Movement: Calibre MB M62.48 – hand-wound – 50 hours power reserve – 18,000 vibrations/h – hours, minutes, small seconds – Certified Montblanc Laboratory Test 500
- Strap: black nylon with calf underlining (not finalized yet)
- Unique concept watch – no price defined – Reference 114926
It seems so cheap. If I would see it from a little dinstance, I would say that it is a $50-60 Swatch…
If the watch had been reversed and the hands put on the exposed movement it would not have appeared so cheap in my opinion.