Vintage aesthetic is a big trend in luxury Swiss watches this year, leading many heritage brands to mine their archives for classical styles.
At Montblanc, there’s a trove of references, even as it started producing luxury watches only in 1995. Its parent company, the luxury conglomerate Richemont, owns Minerva, the illustrious Swiss watchmaker established in 1858.
Montblanc watches are produced at Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie (Montblanc Manufactures) in Villeret and Le Locle, Switzerland, which has been producing mechanical timepieces nonstop for the past 160 years, “even through wars,” says Julian Miribel, Montblanc trainer and consultant for fine watches.
“People are looking to add something that looks a little bit timeless in their collection,” he says.
In his hand is a Montblanc Heritage Pulsograph, one of the models from the Heritage line, which has a domed, warm rose-colored dial inspired by watches from the 1940s and ’50s. Referred to as a doctor’s watch, its complication is based on a physician’s pulsometer, which measures heart rate. Cased in stainless steel, the watch features anthracite Arabic numerals with dots for indexes. The logo has a vintage typeface.
It’s a limited edition with only 100 pieces made.
Another new model is the Montblanc Heritage Perpetual Calendar, in rose gold and stainless steel variants. It’s only the second perpetual calendar for the brand in five years, and watch aficionados have noted the aesthetic improvement from its first foray into perpetual calendars. This limited watch sports a new movement. Like the Pulsograph, it also has a domed sapphire crystal.
There’s also the Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph, an elegant 44-mm watch with a black dial and bronze case. This sports model is more robust in size than the other new watches from Montblanc.
New luxury watches are indeed much slimmer than their predecessors from recent years. In the end, Miribel says, it’s the client’s call how they want to wear their watch. Women, after all, have been wearing bigger models designed for men. “Some men play golf in $200,000 dress watches. It’s fun to see. It may look strange, but it’s their call.”
He adds, “This year, we’re highlighting Minerva so a lot of the models look to the past,” he says. “It’s a good way to create watches that you will still love after 15, 20 years.”
While some companies’ goal is to produce volume, to keep the price point low, “Minerva makes small quantities of watches, but works using traditional craftsmanship and methods. We don’t let machines do all the jobs. The watchmaker creates the decoration, the finishing and highlights. It creates value. We use the modern process of chamfering.” All Montblanc movements are done in-house.
“We’re comparable to the top brands when it comes to quality, but our price point is much more affordable.”
Montblanc is available at Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-La Plaza, City of Dreams Manila, Greenbelt, Resorts World Manila, and Rustan’s Cebu.