Montblanc timepieces come in a few different personalities. Some are pretty and fashionable, some are classy and compliment their heritage as a pen maker, and some others have an even higher-end demeanor. A few years ago Montblanc purchased the famous watch maker Minerva, and since then watch lovers started to see some truly impressive feats of horology come from the brand. Montblanc has done so well with their watches as of late, that perceptions of the brand in America are shifting to that of primarily a watch maker instead of primarily as a pen maker.
Montblanc’s best watches tend to be placed in its Villeret 1858 collection. Villeret is the small town in Switzerland where Minerva was located. The manufacture has since been renamed to Montblanc Villeret. These are rare timepieces, which are highly limited in production, and combine the smooth polished classy look that is often associated with Montblanc — with that of traditional watches and handmade timepieces. In fact, Villeret collection timepiece movements are limited to just 288 examples each.
Newer in the collection is this limited edition Montblanc Villeret Grand Chronograph Enamel Dial watch. Grand it is — with a sizeable diameter of 47 mm for the case (almost 14 mm thick). Its smooth case is manageable though, and the piece wears easily thanks to its highly curved lugs. The crown is signed with the Montblanc logo inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
The watch is available either 18-karat rose gold (with a white enamel dial) or as seen here in platinum with a beautiful “grand feu” blue enamel dial. Photographs don’t replicate such dials with any justice. The blue dial has gold hands and indexes and is complemented with a touch of red. The dial indicators and markers are extremely crisp and raised a bit which makes for a very high quality look. The face is covered with a rare type of highly domed sapphire crystal — and makes for an excellent display of the dial. While the piece has an old world feel to it, the concept and style are very contemporary.
Like traditional pocket watches, the caseback of the Villeret Grand Chronograph opens on a hinge to reveal the movement (which is protected by a sapphire crystal). Inside is a beautifully decorated Minerva manually wound mechanical column wheel monopusher chronograph movement. The movement has a 55 hour power reserve and is quite large at being almost 39 mm thick. Montblanc Villeret has very faithfully reproduced the incredibly intricate decoration style of turn of the century (and older) pocket watch movements in the Villeret Grand Chronograph. Enthusiasts will love it, and anyone will be more than proud to show it off to others or admire the craftsmanship themselves.
A monopusher chronograph uses a single pusher to start, stop and reset the chronograph. You can see the large pusher above the crown. The dial layout is thoughtful, with a distinct attention to function. The hour indicator ring is logically placed closer to the center of the dial where the hour hand is, while the chronograph minutes scale doubles nicely as the minute indicator scale for the time. This attention to detail helps take the dial from merely unique, to useful.
The mixture of traditional watch making and fashionable design has melded very well with the Montblanc personality and aesthetic. While not inexpensive, the brand has proved their Villeret 1858 Collection timepieces can offer both style and mechanical competence to both discerning watch enthusiasts, and more casual timepiece collectors. Priced at about $64,500 in 18-karat rose gold and about $117,000 in platinum. www.montblanc.com.
1. 47-mm wide platinum or 18-karat rose gold case
2. Monopusher chronograph pusher
3. Grand feu blue enamel dial
4. Hinged caseback opens like pocket watch
5. Crisp dial is easy to read and gorgeous
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.