It was probably one of the very rare occasions where Hollywood star Hugh Jackman wasn’t the main attraction in the room, at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève this year – a trade show where thousands of watch connoisseurs and dealers congregate to view the latest luxury timepieces. Brand ambassador Jackman’s presence at Montblanc’s motor-racing themed booth certainly caused a stir but not as much as the sleek, beautiful new watches in the TimeWalker collection.
Drawing inspiration from their Minerva heritage of crafting legendary timing instruments, the new TimeWalker watches are a collection of stunning, sporty watches that capture the strong, adrenalin-driven spirit of motor racing so well.
Visitors were clamouring to examine every detail about the watches – the satinated cases, semi-skeletonised horns and the architecturally carved flanks which are all inspired by the aerodynamic lines of the bodywork of classic cars. Jackman himself admitted to being a huge fan of the collection, and not just because he is one of the brand ambassadors for Montblanc.
“I love this campaign we are doing this year. There is something amazing in the sport of car racing. It’s a great metaphor really … in the world of motor racing, you literally put your life on the line and risk everything in the pursuit of perfection, performance and beauty.
“There’s so much ingenuity and technical brilliance but there is also this pursuit of perfection and beauty of having a powerful and aesthetically beautiful car. And I love that this is the theme for the collection,” he enthused at a press conference.
The TimeWalker collection was first introduced early this century and has seen many incarnations, all of which were more of a modern and urban offer for the brand and were always among their top sellers. The new sporty line is a departure style-wise but seems to have hit the spot with their customers.
Among the standout pieces in the collection is the re-edition of a Minerva Rally Timer dashboard clock from 1966. Called the TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition, this is a 50mm, manually wound, titanium, monopusher chronograph that can be worn as a conventional wristwatch, used as a desk clock, a stop watch/pocket watch or (as with the original) mounted onto a dashboard with a special plate. Each of it is composed of a 46.4mm titanium case, black DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating – for scratch resistance – and a titanium monopusher at 12 o’clock.
The piece practically sent the watch geeks into a frenzy. The Rally Timer Counter is a timepiece you will want to wear, display, admire and show off .
The most commercial pieces in the collection are the new TimeWalker chronographs – TimeWalker Chronograph UTC, TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic and TimeWalker Automatic Date – which are the core of Montblanc’s collection of watches this year. Both the simple chronograph and dual time chronograph feature 43mm diameter cases and ceramic turning bezels which have a second timezone indication. They come with really nice, functional details: semi-skeletonised lugs and simple legible iconography of the dial as well as a deployant clasp that can be adjusted to three different positions to allow for a really good fit.
Jens Henning Koch, executive vice president of marketing for Montblanc International can’t help but gush about the new collection.
“It has been 10 years since we first introduced the TimeWalker collection. It’s proven to be a very successful collection and has helped build up the credibility of Montblanc’s watcmaking expertise. The new TimeWalker is a professional sports watch. Up till now, the TimeWalker line has produced sporty watches but we wanted to push it further … bring the collection to the next level. This new collection signals a rebirth of professional watches,” he said.
He explained that Montblanc (under it’s manufacturer, Minerva), at the beginning of the 20th century, was one of the top three brands for stopwatches, having developed the capability of 100th-second chronometry. They were also used in Olympics timekeeping.
“Our mission is to inspire the achiever in you. Our customers have their own mission, jobs, ambitions and objectives and we want to be able to inspire them all through our time pieces. Montblanc has been evolving a lot in the last three years when it comes to watch making and the aspiration for Montblanc watches has grown tremendously too,” he stated proudly.
This year, Montblanc came out with the Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18. This top-of- the-line wristwatch can measure events up to 1/1000th of a second and is undoubtedly Montblanc tapping into its Minerva manufacturing heritage and capabilities. The case is 46.4mm wide and over 17mm tall and to keep it light and wearable, the piece is made out of titanium and given a black satinated DLC finish. It’s a good looking sporty and masculine watch with plenty of technical gadgetry to keep one happy. This is an extremely limited collection with only 18 pieces made.
The re-imagined TimeWalkers however aren’t only for collectors who have the ability to splurge. Koch emphasises that the collection is focused on accessibility too.
“We have more and more watch aficionados who go for high end watches and for them, we have the rally timer and the 1/1000th of a second timepieces. But we have also brought the same expressions that are in those pieces in watches that are more accessible in price because we want to bring fine watchmaking into that segment,” he noted.
For Jackman, the TimeWalker makes him feel extra good about himself.
“Confidence comes from within. But when you put on a beautiful suit, it makes you feel good. It’s the same when you put on a beautiful watch and this is the most beautiful watch I have ever worn. I’m not just saying that because Jerome (Lambert, former Montblanc CEO) is here. It’s about beauty, functionality, keeping an eye on the past and also the future and coming out timeless,” he said.