Back in 2014, Montblanc introduced the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum Worldtimer, which brought an accessible price to a traditionally expensive complication. World timers are often the darlings of Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe and the like, but Montblanc helped usher in more affordable options along with Frederique Constant and a handful of others. The new Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum heads north on the price with a limited edition 18k rose gold case and accents but offers a stunning overall package without an astronomical price. Larger than before and with a monochromatic colour palette, Montblanc’s latest limited piece is a solid entry into luxury world timers.
World time was established in 1884 (24 time zones) and it took some time for watchmakers to develop a complication to accommodate world travellers. Swiss watchmaker Louis Cottier created the first mechanism to display world time in 1930 and Vacheron Constantin capitalised on this in 1932 with a pocket watch. It has traditionally been a luxury complication for the most prestigious brands, but in recent years has become a more accessible option for business travellers. The quartz revolution in the 1980s brought this function to the masses, particularly with digital offerings, but mechanical watches still hold that desirable and unique blend of form and function.
Although we celebrate Montblanc’s timepieces here at Monochrome, the brand is arguably best known for its luxury pens. Founded in 1906, Montblanc became world-famous for its fountain pens like the iconic Meisterstück 149 launched in the 1950s. Now a subsidiary of Richemont, Montblanc’s watch division has benefited from the conglomerate’s resources and acquisition of movement manufacturer Minerva for in-house calibres. Following the original Orbis Terrarum in 2014 and slight refresh in 2016, the 2020 Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum in 18k rose gold is the brand’s most luxurious world timer to date.
Case & Design
The 2014 world timer was well proportioned at 41mm in diameter and 12mm in height, and the new Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum doesn’t stray far from that formula. Although it’s a bit larger at 43mm in diameter and 13.84mm in height (51mm lug-to-lug), it still wears well without overwhelming the wrist, although you do feel the weight of the 18k rose gold case (replacing stainless steel). The polished case features a nicely machined step on the outer edges of the lugs with a rounded bezel and large onion crown.
Montblanc’s famous black and white star logo, representing the snow-covered peak of Mont Blanc (originating with its pens), sits at the crown’s end. The domed sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating and the sapphire exhibition caseback is secured by four external screws. The strap is a brown sfumato alligator leather with matching stitching and a rose gold pin buckle. Water-resistance is rated at 50 metres, sufficient considering the vocation of this watch.
Dial & functionalities
The dial is the star of the show, updated from the 2016 model, with dual rotating discs and a gold/brown colour scheme to complement the gold case. The oceans are depicted by a flinqué-froissé guilloché pattern in light and dark brown between the hours of 6 and 18 for day and night. This lower disc rotates independently of the upper sapphire disc that displays the three-dimensional continents (not simply printed) and meridian lines in gold, along with 24 world cities printed in white – London is in red. The bottom disc also has white Arabic numerals at the perimeter for 24-hour time, shown in two-hour increments. Leaf-shaped gold hour and minute hands are filled with white Super-LumiNova.
Setting world time function is relatively simple and involves both the crown and an additional rectangular pusher at 8 o’clock. When pulled to the first position, the crown changes the hour hand in one-hour increments, while also advancing the bottom disc – day/night oceans and 24-hour time. In the second position, both the hour and minute hands can be set. The pusher advances the upper disc with cities and continents in one-hour increments, along with the hour hand for travelling through time zones. You stop when your current city is at the red triangular marker at 12 o’clock. So, for example, when Geneva is at the marker and the time set at 10 am, Los Angeles will line up with 1 am on the 24-hour disc with the meridian line going through the city on North America’s west coast.
Powering the Montblanc Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum is the MB M29.20 calibre, which is based on the Sellita SW350-1 automatic. Montblanc’s in-house world time module operates the complication. It has 26 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 42-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours and minutes, world time and a day/night indicator. Seen from the exhibition case back, the rotor is decorated with Côtes de Genève.
I’m a bit torn on this one. It’s a very well-executed world timer with incredible attention to detail, nice and consistent gold/brown colour scheme and excellent legibility. However, it’s quite expensive for a watch with a base Sellita movement, despite having an in-house world timer module. That being said, it’s still in a realistic range for the overall package you’re getting and the 18k rose gold case is indeed luxurious.
Price & Availability
The Montblanc Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum Rose Gold is limited to 500 pieces and retails for EUR 19,900. In any case, there’s a stainless steel, non-limited counterpart with blue dial, currently retailing for a more palatable EUR 6,600.
For more information and to make a purchase, visit Montblanc’s website.