It has to be said: the celerity at which Montblanc has enlarged and developed the Heritage Chronometrie collection is impressive. In less than 2 years, we’ve seen a Dual Time, a Quantième Complet, an Ultra-Slim, a Quantième Annuel and even an affordable (relatively speaking) Tourbillon Chronograph. And what has to be kept in mind is that, even if Montblanc uses third-parties base movements, the complication modules are all done in-house. Now you’ll probably ask yourself when they going to stop? Not this year, as here is the new Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel, to be introduced at the SIHH 2016.
The Heritage Chronometrie is the core collection of Montblanc, with classically shaped watches and a goal to have complicated displays, but for accessible prices. The goal here isn’t to be ultra-high-end – this goes to the Villeret Collection, with watches like the Montblanc Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres – neither to be quite original or vintage – with watches like the Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph or the Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph with Minerva Monopusher. Finally, you won’t find here the top complications like the perpetual calendar or the superlative hand-finish. No, the Heritage Chronometrie is more down to earth, more commercially oriented but not void of interest (at all). This collection has the ability to offer some complications for relatively low prices – and as said in the introduction, many compilations.
The latest addition to the collection, the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel, combines two of the major complications on a legible but complicated (horologically speaking) dial. It features an association of a chronograph merged with an annual calendar, a type of display that only needs setting once a year, at the end of February. Technically speaking, this type of calendar is far easier to develop and to assemble, however, on the user-side, the daily-benefit of the perpetual calendar vs. the annual calendar (a Quantieme Annuel in French) is rather minimal. Consider the quantieme annuel as the latest step on the stairs to heaven, where is placed the perpetual calendar.
The quantieme annuel of this Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie displays all the required information in a way quite similar to a perpetual calendar, via 4 sub-dials: date, day of the week, month and moon-phases. What you’ll miss is the indication of the leap year. For the rest, do believe us, a quatieme annuel / annual calendar is extremely practical, as it takes into account the months of 30 or 31 days, meaning that you’ll need to adjust your watch only once a year, in February. Of course, all the rest of the indications are linked to this display. Only the date will be adjusted. Convenient right – and cheaper (for instance the normal Montblanc quantieme annuel in steel costs 6,500 Euros and the perpetual calendar also in steel costs 10,000 Euros).
As said, the dial of the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel features quite a lot of calendar information but also consider the presence of a chronograph. Having 3 sub-dials normally on a chronograph and 3 sub-dials on an annual calendar, the situation could have been… busy. Let’s have a look at the several zones of this dial:
- Sub-register at 12: Date on the periphery and running second in the center
- Sub-register at 9: 30-minute counter of the chronograph on the periphery and month in the center
- Sub-register at 6: 12-hour counter of the chronograph on the periphery and day of the week in the center
- Sub-register at 3: Moon-phases indicated by a hand
- Central axis: hours, minutes and chronograph seconds
As you can see, the hands are two colors, some are gilded and some are blued. This makes easier to distinguish the timing / calendar indications (displayed by the gilded hands) and the chronograph functions (displayed by the blued hands). There’s no confusion possible.
The rest of the dial is very traditional but highly elegant. We said that the Heritage Chronometrie wasn’t inspired by vintage watches, which is in fact not totally true – even if some of the Montblanc watches are more vintage-inspired, like this one. Its creative influence can be found in the Pythagore watches crafted in 1948 by Minerva, a company that is now owned by the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. The refined applied Arabic numerals, the faceted applied indexes, the distinctive sword hands, the slim profile of the cases, the flat bezels and the curved horns are all inspired by the Pythagore watches. The combination of a silvery-white dial with sun-ray pattern and these gilded details of the hands and indexes is a traditional code of watchmaking, that is here synonym of elegance.
The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel features a 42mm x 13.83mm case, quite large and thick for such a dress watch – but consider this as the average size for a chronograph, without the calendar complications. The case comes in a choice of stainless steel and 18k red gold. Montblanc opted for large square pushers that actually better fit the concept of the watch, compared to more classical round pushers. This timepiece is fitted with an alligator leather strap crafted by the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence.
Underneath the sapphire caseback sits a modular movement, based on a Selitta SW300 with a complex module on the top, for the chronograph and the calendar functions. This choice is guided by the wish of Montblanc to offer highly complicated watches for accessible prices. This self-winding ETA-clone movement ticks at 28,800vph, boasts 42 hours of power reserve and drives the 10 hands of the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel.
This movement, like all the Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie movements, is tested for 500 hours following the stringent requirements of the Montblanc Laboratory 500 Test. You can read more about it here.
The Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Chronograph Quantieme Annuel is once again a great demonstration of the creativity of the brand and of their capacity to create complex watches with interesting retail prices. It will be priced at 18.900 Euros in 18k red gold and around 9.500 Euros in stainless steel. www.montblanc.com.