At SIHH (January 2015) Montblanc confirmed their power and prowess as a watch brand, with an exceptional collection of new products ranging from sophisticated pieces with in-house movements developed at their Villeret manufacture, previously the historic brand Minerva, to watches with third-party movement and modern design to appeal to a younger section of the market.
Keeps track of time for a year
The Heritage Chronométrie collection comprises the Quantième Annuel, a full calendar, a complication very much in evidence at SIHH (other examples were presented by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC). The annual calendar needs adjustment once a year, at midnight on the last day of February, when the user has to advance the watch to 1 March. It doesn’t keep track of leap years, but can deal with all the different lengths of months during the year. The dial shows months at 12 o’clock, days at 9 o’clock, and date at 3 o’clock. The individual calendar functions can be adjusted by means of recessed pushers on the case side, using a pin tool supplied in the case.
In addition this piece has a moon phase display at 6 o’clock which polarizes the attention for its lovely blue lacquer colour, and because it is bigger than the other subdials. It gives the dial the balance that was missing to a degree from the Montblanc Meistertück Heritage Perpetual Calendar, a highlight of last year’s collection. The moon phase indicator includes a depiction of the Southern Cross, a constellation visible in the southern hemisphere and used by Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama during his epic 1497 voyage to India via the Cape of Good Hope, chosen by Montblanc as the leitmotif for this year’s collection. The constellation is accurately shown with the star Gamma’s reddish colour, and its other three stars. Perhaps it’s all part of Montblanc’s attention to the southern hemisphere market – South America, Australia, New Zealand and so forth – as shown in other pieces such as the Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama and the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum.
The watch has a 40 mm case in red gold, 9.15 mm in thickness, with silvery white sunburst pattern dial. The calendar subdial hands are blued, coordinating with the moon phase display colour. The movement can be glimpsed through the sapphire caseback, which has an engraved depiction of Vasco da Gama’s ship, the São Gabriel, along with Vasco’s signature. Personally I would have preferred a completely transparent caseback so that I could see the movement more clearly.
The movement is the calibre MB 29.18, which is almost certainly not made in-house. I would guess that is is based on the Sellita SW300 with an annual calendar module by Dubois Depraz. It is automatic, wih a power reserve of about 42 hours.
The case watertight to 30 m depth. All watches undergo the “Montblanc Laboratory Test 500”, 500 hours of testing designed to ensure the watch’s precision and quality, culminating in a certificate compiled for each timepiece.
The watch is a limited edition of 238 watches, the number coming from the altitude in metres above sea level of the Cape Point Peak lighthouse. The Montblanc star emblem appears on the crown. The strap is made at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence, Italy: Montblanc is one of the few brands with its own strap-making facility, reflecting its huge heritage of experience in desk items in leather.
The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Annuel Vasco da Gama has the reference number 112537, with a price of €11,100, exceptionally low for this complication and for the fine finish of case, dial and movement. A stainless steel version, also a limited edition, is available at around €6,600. Read more at montblanc.com