Now that Montblanc‘s watch division is being led by dapper Italian Davide Cerrato, the pen maker’s timekeepers are rapidly acquiring retro-infused flair, with the recent salmon dial 1858 chronograph being a good example. Even its more affordable watches are undergoing a similar facelift, with the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph getting both a “panda” dial as well as a new movement.
Reminiscent of Universal and Heuer chronographs of the 1960s and 1970s – Cerrato is keen follower of vintage watches and a regular at watch auctions in Geneva – the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph gets to the point quickly. The dal is white with black registers, matched with the flange and ceramic bezel in black, with a dash of red. A noteworthy detail are the applied hour markers that alternate between baton indices and Arabics; the numerals have a vertical brushed finish that’s evident only up close.
The case is stainless steel and 43mm, with lugs that aren’t too long, giving the watch a moderate footprint on the wrist. The flanks of the case are shallowly hollowed out, which gives the case a slightly more interesting profile.
Over on the back the sapphire crystal is tinted grey, with the “manufacture” MB 25.10 movement underneath. It’s automatic and constructed with a column wheel and horizontal coupling. It also looks familiar: the calibre is actually a variant of the IWC cal. 69000 movement found in the IWC Ingenieur chronograph (which was likely devised by ValFleurier, a little known movement maker owned by Richemont). Designed as replacement for the Valjoux 7750 – the two have almost exactly the same dimensions – the IWC calibre has a 46 hour power reserve and runs at 28,800 beats per hour.
Besides the steering wheel-inspired tungsten rotor, the movement has another Montblanc-specific touch: a semi-arrowhead shape on the end of the chronograph lever, visible just above the balance cock. That’s a reference to the arrowhead logo of Minerva, the chronograph specialist that’s now responsible for Montblanc’s top of the line movements.
Notably, the Montblanc costs about 20% less than the IWC, which makes it a compelling buy in comparison, especially since it has the extra of a ceramic bezel. It will, however, be a long wait before they hit stores.
Price and availability
The Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph (ref. 118488) is priced at €4990, including 19% German tax. That’s about US$5900. It will only be available starting September 2018.
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