Montblanc prepares for SIHH 2018. We recently reviewed the spectacular Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph. The brand presented a lovely classic looking chronograph: Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph. It’s not the first “vintage” looking piece of 2017. We remember the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter. The newest TimeWalker timepiece comes with an iconic layout and the newest high-tech materials available today in the industry. We discover it today in our review.
Review: Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph
In our review of the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, we touched on Montblanc’s history. Today, we want to tell you about the chronograph history of the brand, based on the Minerva heritage.
Minerva was founded in 1858 in the Villeret, Switzerland. The main products were professional watches. Minerva has a history of great achievements. In 1911, the brand was capable of producing pieces that could measure 1/5th of a second. Soon after, the precision was increased to 1/10th of a second. The Minerva manufacture pushed the development even further, becoming one of the first brands capable to produce high-frequency movements measuring 1/100th of a second in 1916. These movements were improved in 1936, making the brand an important manufacturer and specialist of the professional watches and stopwatches.
The TimeWalker collection combines the heritage of these fantastic Minerva machineries, the spirit of motor racing and modern technologies and materials.
The case, dial and hand
The TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph has all the design advantages of the modern automotive-themed pieces. The 43mm stainless steel case is treated against scratches with a nice brushed satin finish. The slender, sculptural lugs have carved flanks inspired by the air inlets present on the sports automobile’s body. The carving starts, on the right side, from the chrono pushers. This design integrates the pushers, emphasising the details with a horizontal brushing.
The steel, black DLC crown is generous in size. The design draws inspiration from the vintage radiators caps. The crown has an excellent grip due to the knurled lines on the body. A polished Montblanc logo tops the flat part of the crown. The screwed chrono pushers also feature the knurled black DLC finish.
The TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph has, as one of the main attraction, a fixed bezel. The black ceramic used for the bezel is a high-tech material with a series of advantages over traditional steel or aluminium: high resistant to scratches, very stable and robust as a material, with no oxidation or weak points in front of the common chemical agents. The bezel has a tachymeter scale engraved and filled with white paint for a better legibility. The only negative remark will be the bezel prone to fingerprints.
The watch has a water resistance of 10bar/100m – numbers more than sufficient even for an occasional diver or avid swimmer.
The panda dial is now one of the most classic and desired chrono designs. The black sub-dials on white background offers a bold contrast that could be found on the dashboards of classic racing cars. The TimeWalker sub-dials feature white indexes and numerals with good legibility.
The dial is adorned with applied hour markers and SuperLumiNova® inserts. Arabic numerals are used for 2, 4, 6 and 10 o’clock. The inner bezel flange features a 5-minutes track coated with SuperLumiNova® with a red border for every 15 minutes that completes visuals with the red “Minerva” shaped central chrono seconds’ hand.
The good day/night visibility is enhanced by the dauphine-shaped hour and minute rhodium-plated hands with SuperLumiNova® filling.
The racing style, vintage inspired dial has a good contrast without being tedious. The warm white shade and the greyish shine of the black ceramic helps. The dial decoration is almost non-existent. Only the small seconds’ register with logo, the brand and watch name, together with the “Automatic” printing are present as decoration.
The movement MB25.10
The screwed-in steel case-back has a crystal case back to show a part of the in-house designed and manufactured Calibre MB25.10. The automatic movement features bi-pushers chronograph and date. The 46 hours power reserve is depleted by a 4Hz balance wheel with flat spring. The movement is quite complex: 232 parts of which 33 are jewels.
The first visible element is the monoblock black rhodium-plated tungsten rotor-weight. The oscillating weight is decorated with a circular Côtes de Genève brush, Montblanc/calibre name/numbers of jewels/Swiss made inscription. The shape with round cut-outs brings to mind the steering wheel construction found on the vintage race cars.
The MB25.10 is well decorated. Between finishes, we can see Geneva waves, circular graining and blued screws. The column-wheel is visible on the crown/pushers’ side thanks to a cut-out in the main bridge. The traditional horizontal clutch mechanism keeps the movement at a lower price as the vertical clutch, present on more expensive movements. (More about differences between chronograph construction can be read on this excellent article on Monochrome Watches).
The entire watch is tested by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500: a real-life simulation for over 500 hours to test the reliability and performance.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph retails for a price of €4,990. For the money, Montblanc offers a good looking watch, excellent built. The market offers a relatively high amount of classic looking three-registers chronographs with variations of panda dials. The price range is also wide. We decided to look for other iconic pieces that could be considered competition for our reviewed chrono.
TAG Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer was released for the first time in 1962. The watch featured a signature rotating bezel and was design for racing cars and aircrafts – AUTomobile and AVIAtion. The modern Autavia Jack Heuer 2 was released this year as a tribute to Jack Heuer, the brand’s Honorary President. The watch is limited to 1932 pieces, in reference to Jack’s year of birth. TAG Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer 2 comes in a 42mm steel case with a black aluminium bi-directional notched bezel. The AUTAVIA DNA is carried on by three black sub-dials on a silver dial with a discrete date at 6 o’clock. The watch is powered by 80 hours power reserve Heuer 02 Manufacture Calibre. This racing DNA piece has a price of S$8,100 incl GST.
Omega Speedmaster “Speedy Tuesday” is one of this year’s most interesting release. Born as an honorific edition for the online media “#SpeedyTuesday” Instagram’s hashtag, the watch was a huge success. All 2012 pieces were allocated in less than four hours from the online release. This limited edition’s design is inspired by Omega’s Speedmaster “Alaska Project III” model, created for NASA in 1978. The reverse panda layout was first used by Omega in 1966: white opaline-silvery sub-dials set against a black dial, encircled with a bezel ring and tachymeter scale in matte black aluminium. The Speedy is powered by the calibre 1861 – the movement used in the famous Speedmaster Moonwatch. Retail price is S$8,400 with GST.
Zenith El Primero Black&White is another classic design issued in a very modern iteration of the 1969 El Primero. The 42mm case in an intense black ceramicised aluminium case contrasts with the three-counter dial in B&W theme. The black-toned sunray-patterned with silver-toned counters, or the silver-toned sunray-patterned dial with black-toned counters, depending on the variant, has a great contrast and legibility. The watch is motorised by the Calibre 400B, a 36’600 vibration per hour movement with 50 hours power reserve. The date is also present at 6 o’clock. The El Primero‘s modern and sporty look is completed with a perforated rubber strap and black PVD-coated titanium triple folding clasp.
Another novelty of 2017 with a vintage taste is the beautiful Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph. This classically shaped 41mm diameter steel case features screwed down chrono-pushers inspired by the first generation of Tudor Chronos from the ‘70s. The two registers black frosted dial of the Black Bay is balanced. The famous snowflake hands offer an excellent readability, especially at night. The watch is powered by the Manufacture Tudor calibre MT5813, based on the 2009 released Breitling B01 movement. The MT583 is an automatic movement with date at 6 o’clock and 45 minutes chronograph counter which is the brand’s signature. The calibre’s balance wheel beats at 28,800vph or 4Hz, offering a good 70 hours of power reserve. The price is €4,400/US$4,725 for the leather strap version and €4,740 Euro/US$5,050 for the steel bracelet version.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph is a lovely three-counters chronograph combining a classic looking panda dial and the modern materials. The indisputable sporty look has a proper savoire faire, worthy of a much more than just a sports watch. The use of high-tech materials brings the vintage-inspired piece in contemporaneity. The great legibility is completed by the ease of use. The TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph feels good on the wrist. The pushers have a nice feeling with precise action. The crown has a great grip and it offers a smooth operation. Montblanc created a nice watch that settles, even more, the brand’s position between the big watchmaking players.
Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph Specification and Price
The TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph is available in the brand’s Boutiques for a price of €4,990 or €5,290 on steel bracelet.
Calibre: MB 25.10
Type: Mechanical movement with automatic winding, chronograph & date, bi-pushers with column-wheel and horizontal coupling
Dimensions: Ø 30.15mm, Height 7.90mm
Number of components: 232
Power reserve: 46 hours
Frequency: 4Hz / 28’800 vph
Functions: Hours and minutes from the centre, small seconds at 6 o’clock, tachymeter scale on the bezel; Chronograph’s elapsed-seconds hand from the dial’s centre; 30-elapsed minute and 12-elapsed hour counters at 3 and 9 o’clock; Date in a window at 6 o’clock; 60 elapsed-second and 30 elapsed-minute counters on rotating discs with central motionless hand; Travel function with rapid reset of hour-hand and date display either forward or backwards
Material: Stainless steel
Dimensions of the case: Diameter Ø 43mm; Height 15.20mm
Crystal: Scratch-resistant, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Crown: Black DLC with knurled finishing and Montblanc emblem in relief
Caseback: Stainless steel with inset pane of smoked sapphire crystal
Water resistance: 10bar / 100m
Material: Perforated brown Sfumato aged calf leather strap crafted by the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, Italy; Steel bracelet optional
Buckle: Stainless steel triple folding clasp