When we think of a classic dress watch, the first brands that come to mind are Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre. There are of course more watch brands with classic dress watches in their collection, however not many of these watches share all the features of a classic dress watch: small, slim, two hands (hour and minute), manually wound movement, and preferably executed in a precious metal. Now there’s new one, that honours all codes of a classic dress watch, and that is also very affordable, and elegant. And it’s made by non-other than Montblanc; let’s have a closer look at the new Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim.
Unofficially Montblanc’s new dress watch was already shown to the press during the SIHH, earlier this year, however the official launch is now. The observant Monochrome reader has probably already seen the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim in the ‘expert talk’ video of Ben Clymer and I. Ben (executive editor of Hodinkee) was wearing my favourite novelty of the year, the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbus Terrarum (long name for a very nice world timer). I had the new Ultra Slim on my wrist, not only during the video, but for the entire SIHH week and I can testify that it looks and wears like a perfect classical dress watch.
Montblanc found inspiration for the Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim in an old model from their own Minerva manufacture: the Minerva Pythagore. Over the past 60/70 years there have been several executions of this model that always featured Minerva’s own calibre 48 movement, which was developed in 1948. The Pythagore (all models) have always been a classical dress watch, with three hands. To be precise, calibre 48 featured an off-center second hand in a small subdial at 6 o’clock and a variation of the movement with central second hand was calibre 49.
Below is a re-issue of the Minerva Pythagore that was introduced in 2000, and that featured the beautiful calibre 48. You can easily see where Montblanc drew the inspiration from. The case design, the font of the Arabic numerals (although the “3” is different), the presence of a minute index. Although it is certainly not an exact copy, many elements have clearly served as inspiration for the new Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim.
Since Montblanc’s new one is called Ultra Slim, it is important to take note of these words. A proper dress watch should be relatively small (certainly smaller than 40mm), indicate time only with two or three hands, and be slim/thin. The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim has a 38 mm case that is just 5.8 mm thick. It comes in 18K red gold or in stainless steel and both have matching indexes and hands (on the 18K gold version the indexes and hands are 18K gold plated). The dial of the 18K red gold version is ivory and features a finely grained pattern, while the dial of the steel version features a sunburst finishing. These different finishings really compliment the different metals; one adds some warmth (to the gold version), while the sunburst pattern increases the cool colour and the feel of steel.
The round three-part case has a stepped bezel that has a flat surface, curved horns with facets and polished surfaces. The winding crown bears a relief engraving of Montblanc’s distinctive emblem. The dial has clearly readable minute rail-track, although the minute hand is not long enough to reach it. Slightly longer hands – both the hour and the minute hand – would improve readability because the hands would reach as far as the indexes. These are double-facetted, just like the sword shaped hands are facetted, and these look very nice and have a timeless classic elegance.
Inside, and visible through a sapphire pane in the case-back, is the movement, calibre MB 23.01. This is in fact an ETA/Peseux calibre 7001, which is a very robust and widely used manually wound movement that has a proven itself during many decades of use. The execution by Montblanc is very nicely finished, and features a beautiful côte de Genève striping. It offers approx. 42 hours of autonomy when fully wound.
The Ultra Slim is part of Montblanc’s Heritage Chronometrie collection and that has more meaning to it, than you might expect. All watches from this collection have undergone the Montblanc “Laboratory Test 500” that puts each watch through a test lasting 500 hours (what’s in a name). We explained more about this rigorous test in this article, which also includes an interview with Alexander Schmiedt, Montblanc’s director of watches. Another important feature of the Heritage Chronometrie collection is that these watches come with a leather strap from the Montblanc Pelleteria, the company’s leather manufacture in Florence.
This all sounds very good, and we were very impressed by the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim. Not only by its very classic design, the beautiful finish to the case, dial, and movement, but also by its price. The 18K red gold version will be available for € 5.890 Euro (including VAT) and the steel version for just under € 2k Euro. No debate, that’s very impressive and we’re sure that this will become a staple in Montblanc’s collection.
Specs Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Ultra Slim:
- Case: 18K red gold (5N) or stainless steel, polished finish, 38mm in diameter, 5.8mm in height, 3 ATM water resistance, flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, and case-back with flat sapphire pane inset.
- Movement: manually wound calibre MB 23.01, 17 jewels, approx. 42 hours power reserve, 21,600 vph (3 Hz), displays hours and minutes, certified by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500
- Strap: black alligator strap crafted in the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence with 18 K red gold-plated or stainless steel pin buckle