By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
From a historical perspective, Montblanc was created to support the writing industry back in 1908 when the company was formed in Hamburg, Germany. It was only after 1993 when it became part of Richemont Group (then known as Vendôme Luxury Group S.A.) that the idea of going into watchmaking came about. This idea became a reality in 1997 with the establishment of Montblanc Montre S.A. in Le Locle, Switzerland – the heart of the Swiss watch industry.
When I took this assignment to review Montblanc’s Timewalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph watch, I realized that this is the first time that I will write about a Montblanc watch. Honestly, I did have a prejudice against Montblanc as I felt any watch offering from the brand is more of a fashion watch than anything else. How wrong I was.
Slated for a 2016 launch, the Timewalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Limited Edition watch has an in-house developed movement that features a screw balance which oscillates at a frequency of 3 Hz (or 21,600 vph) outside the rotating carriage and on a higher plane. This patented architecture allows the carriage to be smaller in size and free of the weight of the balance, saving 30 % more energy than a conventional tourbillon. The fact that the balance is positioned outside of the carriage cage also means that it isn’t affected by the inertia of the carriage, therefore improving precision. A particularly useful feature of this movement is its stop-second mechanism, which directly halts the screw balance by means of a tiny spring, and allows the user to also set the seconds precisely. Hence, the Greek nomenclature “exo” used in ExoTourbillon means “outside” or “external”.
This patented Tourbillon construction is integrated into Montblanc’s own in-house developed chronograph module that uses monopusher with column wheel, vertical coupling, automatic winding and two barrels with a combined power reserve of approximately 50 hours.
The primary time is displayed in the large off-centered dial at 12 o’clock. Inside this sub-dial are the date indicator ring and a small red-tip pointer hand. Below this are two semicircular chronograph counters which mark the minutes and seconds with hands of different lengths corresponding to the inner and outer sub-dial scales. The dial is enhanced by a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatments on both sides and vertical flanks.
The modern look of the watch is accentuated by the use of exotic materials such as titanium for the case, carbon fiber for the middle piece and diamond-like carbon (DLC) to cover the titanium bezel. The result is a lightweight and robust case. The three-part case has a diameter of 44 mm with a total thickness of 16.27 mm. The watch is complimented with a black alligator strap with red stitching.
There will only be 100 pieces of this watch. All the watches have been tested vigorously using the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 standard that simulates real-life situations for 500 hours.
This is a very handsome looking watch. At first glance, you don’t think this watch as a chronograph, yet it is. The use of a thin red line just outside the edge of the sapphire crystal glass makes it feel like a sporting watch. Coupled with the red stitching black alligator strap, you have a very lively, youthful and modern looking timepiece on your wrist. I like it.
I don’t think I’ll ever not take a second look at a Montblanc watch again. The brand has proven its capabilities in design and manufacturing and I expect more cool offerings in the future.
For more info, please visit montblanc.com
MEOR AMRI MEOR AYOB – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!!) on his own free time. His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch & Western Watch Read his articles here