SIHH 2017 – Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic (Hands-On)
This is the big one for Montblanc this year, the brand new TimeWalker collection. After several editions of the SIHH focusing on classical and elegant timepieces – what the brand called “accessible luxury” – Montblanc has decided to do the complete opposite and present the last thing you would expect: a sports watch collection. In fact, this was Davide Cerrato’s main objective when he joined the brand, as Managing Director of the Watch Division. And to prove that he has done what he was asked to, here is the very appealing Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic.
The Montblanc TimeWalker is not entirely a new collection. In fact, it has been in the catalogue for quite a while, however with a different objective as the one it now aims to achieve. This collection was the modern and urban offer of the brand, characterized mainly by its hollowed lugs with the Montblanc logo, a rather minimalistic design and clean dials with specific fonts and hands – as you can see here. Many variations were offered, from the traditional 3-hand automatic to the chronograph, as well as some more complex or sportier versions. Still, while Montblanc has been very active in the field of elegant and traditional watches, there was a clear lack in the sports watch department – not to say that nothing was offered but much less than the dress watch alternatives. This is where the new Montblanc TimeWalker enters the game.
In 2015, Jérôme Lambert, the CEO of the brand, recruited a big name in the industry, Davide Cerrato (ex-Tudor and ex-Panerai). His mission was a simple one: create a sports watch collection for Montblanc. When you know a bit more about the brand however, you quickly realize that this mission was far from simple. Undeterred, Cerrato’s results are evident in the new TimeWalker, a watch that gets rid of its minimalistic urban approach to become sportier, bolder – still, it conserves some of the old collection’s features, just to create the link in customers’ minds.
The new Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic is the perfect illustration for this shift. In fact, the evolution of the TimeWalker already started a few month ago, with the introduction of several concept watches, such as the TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph and the TimeWalker Pythagore Ultra-Light Concept. With those two watches, you could start to figure out where Davide was bringing us: changing curves for straight lines and sharp edges, the use of several materials and colors for the case, more depth for the dials, more contrast for the indexes and hands… The blueprints for the new sports watch collection were already drawn. Now, with the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic (and the rest of the collection that we’ll show you later), the concept is being applied to standard production pieces.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic has thus a new design. The main inspiration is motor sports and car racing. Don’t look for dive watches here. It’s not the objective (yet…). From the words of Montblanc, “The Montblanc TimeWalker Collection symbolizes the spirit of racing and harks back to these instruments of glory by offering a line of new professional watches for the modern performer that take their inspiration from Minerva’s outstanding history.” However, you won’t find any vintage-inspired pieces here, but rather an evocation of what the old Minerva maison could have created if it was still active as a stand-alone brand.
This new Montblanc TimeWalker Collection is a strong contemporary expression of the professional sport chronograph with a 43 mm case size that has become a standard size for Montblanc’s performance timepieces. The pieces are masculine, bold but still imbued with this minimalistic and clean approach that was always part of the TimeWalker collection. The shape has greatly evolved, with sharp and straight lugs, still with a recessed part that somehow reminds of the older hollow version that was the trademark of the collection. All the watches, including this Chronograph Automatic feature a contrasting black bezel in ceramic, with 12 hour scale (or 24h on UTC versions), which can rotate bi-directionally. The sides of the crown, pushers and bezel have a knurled finishing – again a reference to motor sport.
The dial of the new Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph is also inspired by cars and their dashboards, however it still retains the trademark indexes, fonts and hands. Clear legibility and visibility are achieved with strong contrasts of colour (silver, black and red accents to separate the different functions) and three-dimensional counters inspired by dashboards. A nice detail is the Montblanc logo discreetly stamped into the sub-counter at 9. Finally, to insure that these watches are really suitable for the sports category, they are rated to 100 meters water resistance.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic is powered by the calibre MB 25.07 – a Selitta SW500 base – and has been rigorously tested by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500, simulating real-life wear for over 500 hours. It comes with a choice of three different strap options: perforated leather, perforated rubber, and a new performance metal bracelet with three links. It will also be available with a black dial with silver contrasting rings for the sub-dials at 12 and 6. Price: 3,990 Euro (leather or rubber strap) or 4,290 Euro (steel bracelet). montblanc.com.