Up Close with the Montblanc’s Affordable Chronograph Annual Calendar

The Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar does a lot while costing relatively less. How good is it?
Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 1

To offer a lot for comparatively little money has been Montblanc’s credo of late, and that’s something exemplified by the Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar. It packages two complications – an annual calendar and a chronograph – inside a classically styled and relatively affordable package.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Chronograph Quantième Annuel rose gold

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Chronograph Quantième Annuel rose gold side

The look is traditional, with four sub-dials for the calendar and chronograph. It’s intuitive to read, though the small font on the sub-dials can be challenging to decipher.

While simply executed for the most part, the dial has enough detail to make it attractive, including applied hour markers and different finishes on each section. The look is more appealing than the price would imply.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 2

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 3

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 4

Likewise the case is efficiently constructed, but with a little detail, like a bevel on the length of the lugs.

While it is fully featured and pleasing to the eye, the Chronograph Annual Calendar is – as should be expected – built on a budget.

An annual calendar needs to be set once a year at the end of February, because it can only hand 30 or 31-day months on its own. This is found inside an annual calendar module, essentially a self-contained capsule with the mechanism, that is added on top of the base movement. Ditto for the chronograph mechanism, which is another module. More sophisticated movements have integrated constructions – everything is a indivisible whole – but watches with such movements cost five to ten times as much.

Both modules sit on a Sellita SW300, an automatic movement that’s a copy of the robust ETA 2892 (which has had its copyright expire long ago). Sellita’s advantage over ETA is that it is functionally identical, but costs less to buy. It does the job admirably well, though the display back is too revealing; a solid back would have kept the mystique a little longer.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 5

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 6

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar 7

The obvious question then becomes: is it better to do as much as possible, or to do less but do it better? For the same money as the Chronograph Annual Calendar in 18k red gold, the Minerva 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter made by the same company is a simple chronograph in a stainless steel case, but with an impressive level of decoration on the movement.

The answer lies with the buyer. A watch like this is not a holy grail, rather it’s a step along the way to nirvana. So a collector with several complicated watches would do better to go for something simpler but finer. But someone in the early stages of the hobby will find a the value proposition of the Chronograph Annual Calendar compelling.


Pricing

The Heritage Chronométrie Collection Chronograph Annual Calendar $10,450 or €9500 in steel, and $20,700 or €18,900 in red gold.

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The Best Cars in the World at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2016

An experience of the ultimate classic car show on the shores of Lake Como with A. Lange & Söhne.
Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 45

Lake Como is famous enough that the name is immediately evocative, of George Clooney, James Bond, holidaying oligarchs, la dolce vita. But the lake, shaped like an upside down “y”, is also home to one of the world’s greatest classic car contests, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

Dedicated to cars from the 1920s till the 1980s, the Villa d’Este concours is one of the highlights of the automotive calendar, taking place on the carefully manicured lawn of the Villa d’Este hotel. The event has a long history, having been first put on in 1929, with a postwar hiatus before being revived in 1995.

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The boat ride to the Villa d’Este

Unlike auto shows that focus on new automobiles – think lime green supercars and car show girls in cavernous halls – events like the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este offer a carefully curated selection of remarkable classic cars competing for the top prize.

Chief executive of Lange Uhren Wilhelm Schmid

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Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 1

While the vintage automobiles on show at Villa d’Este are immensely valuable, many are worth millions, the event isn’t garish or preening. Rather, it is nuanced and refined; cars are judged on originality, condition, restoration, and provenance – qualities a watch collector can immediately appreciate. One of the prizes given out at the event is “For the most sensitive restoration”.


The winner of the event’s top prize, the “Best in Show”, went to a 1954 Maserati A6 GCS with coachwork by Pininfarina and a participant in the 1955 Mille Miglia. Its remarkable lines were the work of Aldo Brovarone, then the chief designer at Pininfarina. Interestingly, however, the design was originally intended for a company that went bust before the car made it into production. Subsequently Brovarone’s boss, Battista “Pinin” Farina, put the design on a Maserati.

The best of show at the awards dinner. Credit A. Lange Söhne

Alongside a trophy, the “Best in Show” winner also received a one of a kind Lange 1 Time Zone in white gold, with “Como replacing Berlin on the cities disc, as well as a thoroughly unusual hunter back engraved with the coat of arms of the Villa d’Este.

Lange 1 Time Zone Concorse Villa d'Este 2016


“Cars of the stars”

Some of the classic cars on show had glittering past owners, including a pair of Ferraris once owned by Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood. Also on show was a one-off silver Testarossa Spider (the only one actually made by Ferrari and not a coach builder) originally constructed for Gianni Agnelli, the industrialist whose family controlled Ferrari.

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And the winner of the event’s public prize, the Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este, went to a dirty green 1933 Lancia Astura II Serie Berlinetta that was first owned by Vittorio Mussolini, the Fascist dictator’s second son.

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Alongside the classic cars were a half dozen concept cars, including the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo that was inspired by the video game of the same name, as well as the gorgeous styled and deliciously named Alfa Romeo Disco Volante.

Your correspondent was a guest at the 2016 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este thanks to A. Lange & Söhne, one of the event’s sponsors (the title sponsor is BMW). Here’s a pictorial report on the proceedings.

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Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 8 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 9 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 12 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 15

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Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 20 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 24

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Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 28Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 29 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 35 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 36 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 37 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 42 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 40 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 39 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 45 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 46


 

 

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