You know how sometimes you meet celebrities in real life and they’re not quite what you expect? Hugh Jackman however, really is as charming as he is on-screen. The 49-year-old Australian actor was at the Salon Internationale Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva earlier this year in his role as global brand ambassador for luxury lifestyle brand, Montblanc.

At a special dinner for friends of the brand (which included global ambassador Charlotte Casiraghi), he gave a wonderful speech that touched on how Montblanc is just like a family and welcomed the latest star to join the brand, well-known Chinese actor Yang Yang.

Jackman, who has been global ambassador since 2014, is warm and friendly in person and has a way of focusing on what you’re saying as if it’s very important. In an exclusive interview with Star2 before the dinner, the star talked about how Montblanc is more than just a brand.

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Montblanc 1858 Geosphere.

“It’s a meaningful relationship. It always has this one eye on the past and a very bright eye on the future. I am a lover of history and I love what the past can bring – expertise, experience, craftsmanship, culture, mission, but you have to keep evolving, creating and I think Montblanc certainly does it beautifully. And this collection is such a great example, it’s got the vintage aesthetic but is looking to the future,” Jackman said of the Montblanc 1858 collection.

“I love the Geosphere, I love the pocket watch, I think there’re only 16 of them made, most of them sold. The Chronograph is beautiful, there’s something about it that feels timeless. With Montblanc, it’s bringing back this great craftsmanship and great traditions and it’s an extraordinary sort of art and people say you get the time on your phone, who needs a watch? But when you truly appreciate craftsmanship, you appreciate the art that goes into it.”

He added that he gets inspired by Montblanc and hopes there will be many more years for him with the brand. And what does time mean to him?

“I meditate every day. That way, I know I have time to myself. I love to read, I love to swim, I love to cook, I love the movies and theatre. And my main priority is my family, so I try to spend as much time with them as I can.”

And as Jackman can attest, it is this running theme of history, legacy and a sense of family ties that run through the SIHH 2018 collections.

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Hugh Jackman wearing the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere. Photo: Gilles-Marie Zimmermann

A Reinterpretation Of Classics

The heritage of a brand and the history that winds through it is always an important element when it comes to watch collections. There are references and inspirations that hark back to iconic pieces and reinterpretations to introduce to the contemporary consumer who may not be familiar with these special pieces.

This year marks the 160th anniversary of Minerva with its heritage that lives on today through Montblanc’s fine watchmaking.

In 1858, Charles-Yvan Robert founded a watch workshop in the Saint-Imier valley. Minerva had already gained international recognition as early as the 1880s for its precise time measuring timekeepers, such as its innovative golden pocket watches that could be wound without a key. They were among the first to be wound without a separate key and the reason why Minerva experienced global success and expansion so early on.

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An old photo of the Minerva workshop.

Other innovations include developing chronographs and gaining recognition for its precise chronometry. In 1916, they were one of the first to produce a high-frequency movement that could measure 1/100th of a second, a development that was further improved in 1936. The 1920s saw the first manually wound monopusher chronograph developed for wristwatches.

Today, the Montblanc timepieces continue the Minerva legacy with a focus on three unique fine watchmaking explorations – the Spirit of Mountain Exploration based on the saga of military watches (Montblanc 1858), the Spirit of Classical Fine Watchmaking based on classical pocket and wristwatches (Montblanc Star Legacy Collection) and the Spirit of Racing based on the unique exploration of timekeepers and stopwatches (Montblanc TimeWalker Collection). These timepieces link the past and present through design, style and technical innovation.

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Nicolas Baretzki says that every collection created has a meaning behind the story.

“Each time we create a collection, we have the meaning of the story and the watchmaking expertise. The 1858 I would say, would be this kind of execution, the pocket watch with this new movement or the very vintage oriented collector’s piece which is the 1858 Monopusher limited edition. This is how we create,” said Nicolas Baretzki, CEO of Montblanc.

“On one hand, watches over several years old that are really beautiful like the Villeret but with aggressive price pushing. Then comes the second part, which is the manufacture movement which is in the more mainstream model. That is for me, the peak of the salon.

“For this year, the 1858 Geosphere whereby it’s a world time with a Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.”

He added, “Very functional, very useful complication, a complex movement that is coming from a Minerva movement that we came out with a few years ago.”