January is always wintry in Switzerland. But the heat was up several notches at Montblanc’s booth at the recent Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva.
Guests waited in anticipation for a peek of the brand newest timepieces and arrival of celebrities like Montblanc brand ambassador Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried and Montblanc Malaysia’s Friend of the Brand, actor Lawrence Wong, to grace their presence at the booth.
It was Wong’s first visit to SIHH – an invite-only annual watch trade show – and his excitement was palpable. It’s understandable as the prestigious event is filled with hundreds of dazzling timepieces that boast some of the most ingenious machinations.
“This is an amazing event, especially for watch enthusiasts. I like how Montblanc’s newest timepieces pay homage to the spirit of exploration. The collection resonates with my adventurous and outdoorsy personality,” says the charming actor who was named Montblanc Malaysia’s Friend of the Brand last September.
Wong is no stranger in the entertainment circuit. He shot to fame after landing the role as a royal guard in popular Chinese TV-drama The Story of Yanxi Palace.
Last October, he chalked another milestone by winning Asia’s Most Promising Actor, at the 2018 Asian-American Television and Film Festival Golden Oak Award in New York.
Wong had his eyes set on Montblanc’s 1858 novelties, comprising two automatic pieces, the chronograph and Geosphere, dedicated to the world’s seven summit mountaineering challenge. The friendly actor says the 1858 watches are trendy and in sync with his wanderlust personality.
“I am a nature lover and the spirit of the Montblanc 1858 collection is in tune with my beliefs. The timepieces are essentially about reconnecting with nature and befit my traits as a risk-taker, adventurous soul and traveller,” explains the Johor Baru-born, who has backpacked across continents like Europe, South America, United States and Asia.
The 1858 timepieces are a re-interpretion of the Minerva pocket watches and chronographs from the 1920s and 1930s conceived for military use and mountain exploration.
To capture the spirit of past in a modern feel, the timepieces have been reconstructed with a bronze vintage case and paired with innovative in-house complications.
Each timepiece features slim bevelled horns, crafted from titanium, and case back engraved with the emblematic Mont Blanc mountain. A compass and two crossed ice pick-axes are also inscribed as a nod to the spirit of mountain exploration.
The Geosphere and 1858 Automatic Chronograph are paired with khaki green and bronze dials, and matching coloured NATO straps, which capture the zeal for the outdoors.
Aesthetically, the Geosphere is a stylish timepiece that evokes a sporty demeanour with some of the most innovative calibres. For legibility and design, the khaki-green dials contrast with historical luminescent cathedral-shaped hands with a “cloisonne” enamel design.
Other details include beige SuperLumiNova-coated numerals, railway minute tracks and original Montblanc logo from the 1930s era.
Spirit Of Sophisticated Elegance
Besides the 1858 collection, the luxury Swiss watchmaker doesn’t disappoint with other collections. For watch enthusiasts looking for a timepiece with a sporty and vintage appeal, check out the TimeWalker chronographs with ‘reverse panda’ dials.
These models are equipped with a tachymeter scale for timing speed and SuperLumiNova numerals that capture the spirit of racing.
Like all TimeWalker timepieces, the watches have been rigorously tested which simulates real-life wear for over 500 hours for reliability and performance.
If you prefer elegant timepieces, the Star Legacy watches could be for you. These classic watches take its inspiration from Minerva’s heritage and pocket watches dating back to the late 19th and 20th century.
One of the highlights is the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec chronograph watches featuring Arabic numerals and ‘filet saute’ guilloche decoration.
These watches showcase classic design codes such as round, pebble-shaped case, horn and onion-shaped crown.
The Heritage timepieces, inspired by Minerva wristwatches from the 1940s and 1950s, are combined with today’s bold designs and technology.
Vintage aesthetics include domed dials with two finishings, and dots as indexes combined with colours such as salmon, smoked-caramel and silvery-white.
To stay relevant, Montblanc takes efforts to listen to its customers’ needs and turns to its expertise, craftsmanship to construct appealing timepieces, says its executive vice president (marketing) Vincent Montalescot.
“We jot down the needs of our customers and sieve through the archives and unearth trends befitting our tradition. For this year’s collection, we have linked our heritage (the Minerva watches between the 1920s and 1950s) with current trends surrounding nature and exploration.”
The brand also looks into different product segmentation according to customer needs, Montalescot adds.
“In Asia, most customers prefer the Star Legacy and 1858 timepieces whereas in Mexico, there is bigger demand for the 1858 and TimeWalker pieces,” explains Montalescot, adding the Geosphere timepieces are also well received in Asia.
With the rise of digital platforms, Montblanc has moved towards social media channels, and digital marketing to further promote its brand.
Montalescot considers this an interesting era, where the brand – which boasts the traditional art of haute horlogerie – relies on technology to connect with its customers.
“These days, the brand has turned to digital technology to promote our business. But on the flip side, we use the oldest and finest craftsmanship and using complex movements. But when both meet, there’s a beautiful balance between the past and present.”