Over the past few years, few brands have changed their offerings as dramatically as Montblanc. Fully embracing its legacy as the successor to the legendary and long-running Minerva Watch Company, the marque has turned its design focus away from aggressive, design-forward modernist pieces towards heritage inspired pieces celebrating the long history of the Minerva brand. For its 2020 novelties, Montblanc has turned its attention to Minerva designs of the turn of the early 1900s along with the ‘40s and ‘50s, adding a selection of rich colors to the mix in five distinctive models across the Heritage and Star Legacy lines. These include the Star Legacy Automatic Date 43 mm, the Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm, the Heritage Monopusher Chronograph, the Heritage Automatic, and the flagship Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition 100.
Without a doubt, the most ambitious of the new offerings is the Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition 100. The style first debuted at SIHH 2019 with a salmon dial and stainless steel case, but this new edition reinvents the midcentury “doctor’s watch” concept with a warm and luxurious new color palette. While the smooth and simple form of the 40 mm case is carried over from the previous model, the new version opts for 18 karat polished rose gold to accentuate the classic shapes and distinctive 2 o’clock single chronograph pusher. Around back, a sapphire display window offers a glimpse of the in-house chronograph movement within. Like last year’s stainless steel version, the dial of the new Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition 100 is an intricate tribute to the Minerva pulsations chronographs of the ‘40s and ‘50s, with both an outer pulsations scale and detailed 1/5 seconds track around the outside. Other classic chronograph touches abound throughout the design, including longer marks for three, six, and nine minutes on the 3 o’clock chronograph subdial, a relic of three minute charging intervals for pay phones. The lacquered dial surface itself is a rich cocoa brown, with intricate finishing including a central sunburst, a grained ring around the mix of applied rose gold numerals and indices, along with tight snailing in the chronograph subdials. Like the case, the lumed dauphine handset is rendered in 18 karat rose gold, playing off the deep brown tones of the dial handsomely, while the yellow pulsations scale and smaller red accents add pops of contrasting vivid color. The Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition 100 is powered by the in-house Calibre MB M13.21, a handwound column wheel chronograph movement with horizontal clutch. Beyond a 55 hour power reserve, the movement is intricately decorated, with rose gold plated movement plates and bridges, diamond gear train hubs, and a mix of circular graining and Côtes de Genève throughout. Playing off the warm tones of the case and dial, the Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition 100 is paired with a tobacco brown Italian made alligator leather strap. As the name suggests, only 100 examples of this new limited model will be produced, at an MSRP of $33,000.
Other additions to the Montblanc Heritage line for 2020 include new colorways for both the Heritage Monopusher Chronograph and Heritage Automatic models. The Heritage Monopusher Chronograph maintains the same classical 42 mm stainless steel case as previous iterations, with its distinctive single pusher running straight through the center of the crown at 3 o’clock. The basic dial design is shared with the Heritage Manufacture Pulsograph Limited Edition 100, with its intricate mix of surfaces, vintage style dauphine hands, and mix of applied Arabic numerals and dot indices. Even the extended hash marks of the chronograph subdial at 3 o’clock are carried over, but where the Heritage Monopusher Chronograph sets itself apart is with color. The domed dial itself is rendered in a coppery salmon tone, while the hands and indices are rhodium-plated for a colder, brilliant sheen. Blue accents on the subdial and central chronograph seconds hands add a punch of contrast against the pink and orange tones of the main dial. One of the subtler changes between the two models is the Heritage Monopusher Chronograph’s removal of the outer pulsometer scale, which dramatically improves the overall proportions at play here by allowing the central dial to spread out further visually and eliminating a cramped feeling for the other dial elements. Inside the Heritage Monopusher Chronograph is Calibre MB 25.12 automatic chronograph movement, featuring a 48 hour power reserve and 28,8000 bph sweep. Montblanc pairs the new Heritage Monopusher Chronograph with a gray Italian made alligator leather strap. This handsome new colorway will retail for a surprisingly reasonable $4,950.
Despite being the simplest of the new Heritage additions, the new colorway of the Heritage Automatic is perhaps the most handsome of the new crop of models. Sharing the same clean 40 mm case design as previous iterations, the new Heritage Automatic interprets the form in 18 karat yellow gold, topped with a domed sapphire crystal. The real visual centerpiece, however, is the lacquered dial. Finished in a deep lustrous British racing green, the contrast against the 18 karat gold hands and markers is a classic and luxurious combination that still feels fresh and modern. The overall design elements of the dial are shared with the rest of the new Heritage models, but the lack of chronograph subdials allows the variety of different surfaces to take visual prominence. The Heritage Automatic is powered by the manufacture Calibre 24.27 automatic movement, with a 42 hour power reserve. Like the other new Heritage models, the Heritage Automatic comes mounted on an Italian made alligator leather strap, this time finished in a matching deep green color. This new Heritage Automatic is expected to retail for $8,900.
While the Heritage models have pulled from Minerva’s ‘40s and ‘50s offerings, the Star Legacy collection digs even deeper into the archives with two new modern reinterpretations of Minerva’s pocket watches of the early 1900s. The Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm is the more technically impressive of the pair, with an all new 43 mm stainless steel case design incorporating several classic pocket watch features. The overall shape of the case is streamlined and pebble like with no hard edges, much like a classic Minerva pocket watch, while the oversized signed onion crown at 3 o’clock evokes a classic antique feel. The caseback features a sapphire window, exposing the automatic powerplant. The dial of the Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm is a blend of classic and contemporary influences, with classical leaf hands and large applied Roman numeral indices contrasted with a complex Montblanc star pattern guilloche finish across the main dial and thoroughly modern subdials at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock. Montblanc offers the Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm in two separate colorways, both an off white dial with rose gold plated hands and applied indices along with blued hands for chronograph functions, and a more modern anthracite gray dial version with silver hands and indices along with contrasting black subdials. The gray version immediately feels more contemporary and sportier, while the off white dial comes across a bit more old fashioned and less focused. Inside the Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm beats the 7750 based Calibre MB 25.07 automatic chronograph movement, offering a 48 hour power reserve in addition to a 12 hour chronograph and day/date complication. Like the Heritage models, Montblanc pairs both versions of the Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm with an Italian made alligator leather strap in a complementary color, but in addition both variants are available with a three link stainless steel bracelet. MSRP pricing is expected to start at $4,500.
The newest three hand addition to the Star Legacy line, the Star Legacy Automatic Date 43 mm, cleaves extremely close to its chronograph sibling. The 43 mm stainless steel case is nearly identical to the design of the Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date 43 mm with the obvious removal of the chronograph pushers, and the overall dial design is very similar as well. Like the chronograph, the Star Legacy Automatic Date 43 mm is offered in both an anthracite gray variant with black accents and an off white version accented with rose gold. The applied Roman numerals, leaf hands, and Montblanc star guilloche pattern all make an appearance here, but without the chronograph subdials the overall design feels cleaner, more spacious and more classical than its stablemate. However, without the chronograph subdials to balance it, the date window feels deeply out of place and disruptive on these models. Montblanc outfits the Star Legacy Automatic Date 43 mm with its Calibre MB 24.17 automatic movement, offering a 38 hour power reserve. Like the chronograph, both the gray and off white dial variants are offered on either an Italian made alligator leather strap or a three link bracelet. Pricing for the Star Legacy Automatic Date 43 mm is expected to start at $3,080.
With these new additions to the product line, 2020 looks like another year of substantial change at Montblanc. For more information about these new models, please visit Montblanc’s website.