Montblanc watches are usually not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of classic chronographs. The brain is more likely to conjure up images of a TAG Heuer Carrera, Rolex Daytona, Omega Speedmaster or Breitling Chronomat. But Montblanc has steadily made a name for itself in the esteemed (and really crowded) world of chronographs. The brand has shown its sporty side with its most recent Montblanc TimeWalker chronographs.
Montblanc TimeWalkers at a Glance
The Montblanc TimeWalker was designed for both the young and the young in spirit. We take a look at the Manufacture Chronograph Automatic 43-mm with a classic Panda dial and its slightly sleeker cousin the TimeWalker Automatic Chronograph, a 41-mm watch with an eye-catching Reverse Panda dial. But let’s start with a short (and fun!) history lesson.
Made in the Minerva Tradition
The uninitiated may ask, “Montblanc are the pen people, right?” Montblanc gained fame for creating some of the world’s most-coveted writing implements. Some functions often take a slight lead over form and attention to detail is paramount. This pragmatic and keen-eyed approach followed its foray into timepieces, with some help from a watchmaking legend.
With over 150 years of crafting fine timepieces, Minerva traces its humble roots to a small Swiss village in 1858. There, two brothers began an enterprise that would grow to become a major player in the watch world of the 20th century. Near the dawn of the 21st century, Montblanc took the reins of the brand that still handcrafts its watches in an original workshop dating to 1902. Still with employees who have carried on the Minerva tradition for decades on end. Montblanc put a laser focus on Minerva’s specialization in chronographs and made the world stand up and take notice.
Montblanc TimeWalker, A Modern Ode to Classic Chronographs
The Montblanc TimeWalker’s Panda dial is an unashamed homage to vintage timepieces. Harkening back to the time when these bold black-and-white faces saw a surge in the 60s and 70s. The most well known of which is the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman.” It was famously worn and promoted by the late movie star and Formula One driver. The Reverse Panda design offers a contemporary take in a striking mix of black, white and silver. This throwback flair gives the watch an old-school aesthetic without feeling dated that’s distinct and sure to garner attention.
While both dials serve as nods to the gauges that racers relied upon in the motor sports of yesteryear, they leap into the modern age with hands and indexes that are coated in Super-LumiNova. And these present well under almost any circumstance! Whether you’re dealing with high speed or low light, the second hand, a notable tribute to the iconic Minerva arrow, is clearly visible. The same goes for the hour and minute hands, which are rhodium plated for increased visibility.
Slimmer and More Versatile
We get to the age-old question of “does size matter?” Given that many watch aficionados find a 45-mm wide case just too big and bulky. Both the 41-mm entry level and 43-mm cases offer refreshingly slimmer and more understated choices. Scaling back the bulk makes the new Montblanc TimeWalker watches much more wearable, pairing as easily with a sporty ensemble as they do with dress-casual attire.
Beyond the versatility of a slimmer size, the Montblanc TimeWalker can be fitted with calfskin, stainless steel or rubber straps. The latter seems like the obvious choice with a sporty aesthetic that best suits the watch’s racing heritage. Asymmetrical holes in the rubber and calfskin straps complete the design homage to the world of high-speed racing gone by. But slipping on a stainless steel bracelet instantly dresses up the watch for more formal environments.
The Bracelet and Sub-Dials of a Montblanc TimeWalker
The bracelet also more uniformly matches a stainless steel case. Its design cues from the alloy wheels of vintage roadsters. The satin-finished case exudes a simple, almost basic, elegance with a polished beveled edge and a solid one-piece black ceramic tachymeter bezel.
Three-dimensional sub-dials are designed with legibility in mind. It also features white registers against black and vice versa. Adorned by the Montblanc star, the sub-dial at the nine o’clock position on the Panda model meshes seamlessly with a black-on-black motif. As you might have guessed, it’s the opposite on the Reverse Panda piece with striking white against a silvery-white palette.
Montblanc TimeWalker Inner Workings
While both are similar in form and function to a TAG Heuer Carrera, the Manufacture Chronograph Automatic has MB 25.10 in-house movement while the slimmer Automatic Chronograph has Calibre MB 25.07 powered by the Sellita SW500.
Delving into Monblanc TimeWalker’s Durability
Water resistant to 100 meters, a Montblanc TimeWalker also has ceramic bezels that are scratch resistant. A durable smoked-sapphire crystal takes its design cues from the engine houses of classic race cars. But what really tests these timepieces is the Montblanc proving grounds. Following those collection’s was the “Instruments of Glory.” The chronographs undergo the rigors of the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500, a series of rough-and-tumble exercises that recreate the wear a watch will weather in its first 500 hours.
So while chronograph purists may still feel more secure seeking out TAG Heuer Monacos, Breitling Navitimers or Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks, a whole new wave of watch lovers are putting Montblancs on their wrists.