Montblanc updates Minerva’s rich legacy for a new generation.
For inspiration, Montblanc needs to do little more than browse through the enviable portfolio of one of haute horlogerie’s most iconic brands, Minerva. Founded way back in 1858, the Richemont Group acquired this exceptional maison in 2006, and integrated it into Montblanc — transforming a brand known mainly for its writing instruments into a force even serious watch collectors are keeping, well, a close watch on.
At SIHH 2018, Montblanc had a formidable presence and a good reason for celebrations — after all, it is the 160th anniversary of Minerva Manufacture. The timepieces this year are divided into three lines — the Star Legacy collection, which evokes the “spirit of classical watchmaking”; the TimeWalker series, which comes infused with the “spirit of racing”; and the most prominent of the lot, the 1858 lineup, which exudes the “spirit of mountain exploration”.
For the 1858 collection, Montblanc found inspiration in Minerva’s military watches from the 1920s and ’30s. The brand recalls these watches were highly accurate, legible and robust enough for use in extreme conditions. The 2018 interpretation retains the “vintage codes”, while updating the watches with distinctive aesthetics, innovative complications, a mix of materials and a choice of different case sizes. Or, as Montblanc explains, “They capture the spirit of the past in a modern way, expressing the trend of back to nature and the growing interest for adventure.”
These watches feature satin-finished cases reworked with slimmed-down horns, fluted crowns that recall those on period timepieces, and domed sapphire crystal glass boxes that increase the robustness and the vintage appeal. The dials have striking colour contrasts with their historical luminescent cathedral-shaped hands with cloisonné design, Arabic numerals, railway minute tracks and the original Montblanc logo from the 1930s era. The 1858 collection is made of five new watches — the 1858 Automatic, 1858 Automatic Chronograph, the 1858 Geosphere, the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100 and the 1858 Pockest Watch Limited Edition 100.
Meanwhile, the Star Legacy collection is based on the Star line that was introduced more than 20 years ago. The 2018 refresh “enhances the level of classic finishing by bringing an additional sophistication to the design” while retaining the key elements of the product line. The watches feature round cases with curved finishes that create a “refined pebble-shaped effect”. This is further enhanced by horns that have steps on the side, while the crowns stand out with their recognisable and easy-grip onion-shape, and are adorned with the Montblanc emblem.
“They capture the spirit of the past in a modern way, expressing the trend of back to nature and the growing interest for adventure.”
The dial, highlighted by redesigned Arabic numerals, is further accentuated by the addition of the iconic exploding star guilloché pattern. Other aesthetical details include a unique railway minute track and a filet sauté guilloché running around the dial. Montblanc adds that the watches are reminiscent of the historical Minerva pocket watches that were made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as 1927’s Gold Hunter Calibre 19.
The Star Legacy collection consists of six watches — the Star Legacy Suspended Exo Tourbillon Limited Edition 58, the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph, the Star Legacy Full Calendar, the Star Legacy Moonphase and the Star Legacy Automatic Date.
The third collection — TimeWalker — aspires to transport you to the early 20th century and the glory days of motor racing with timepieces dedicated to performance. Montblanc recalls that as cars got faster and the winning margins slimmer, the need for devices that could measure even the smallest intervals was more acute than ever. Minerva stepped in with stopwatches that could accurately measure even the 1/100th of a second, such as the famous Rally Timers that were made specially for timing motor racing with precision.
Coming back to 2018, the TimeWalker collection combines “a vintage-themed style with performance, innovation, great legibility and robustness”. The aesthetic codes are directly rooted in the world of racing, and conveyed through satinated cases, semi-skeletonised horns and architecturally carved flanks. The iconic details include knurled finishing on the flanks of the emblematic high-tech black ceramic bezels, as well as on the crowns and pushers — Montblanc points out that the crowns and pushers also recall vintage car petrol caps, while the smoked glass case backs have been inspired by the glass windows that reveal sporty V12 engines. “No detail has been left out, with even the leather straps featuring holes that pay tribute to vintage leather racing gloves.”
The collection includes the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph and the TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100.
Watchmakers start the year with a bang at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.