If you are a vintage car lover, or a connoisseur of vintage auto rallies, then you know full well about Goodwood Festival of Speed – held earlier this year in England. You should also know about Montblanc, its TimeWalker line and Davide Cerrato, the man behind the TimeWalker design (and previously the designer behind the Tudor Black Bay watch) and Managing Director of Montblanc’s Watch division. Earlier this year, Montblanc announced its role as the Official Timing Partner of the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed. Some industry pundits questioned the affiliation. I didn’t. These four have a common thread that holds them all together – passion.
Sure, I could have said desire for precision or perfection. I could have said the drive for beauty and elegance, or the desire to return to roots but in a contemporary way. In fact, there are a number of synergies between the brand, the festival, the collection and the designer but when you whittle them down, it all comes to passion.
Interview with Montblanc’s Davide Cerrato
Earlier this year at SIHH 2017, Montblanc made a huge splash with its all-new highly sports-inspired TimeWalker collection. Around that time, I had actually gotten a sneak peek at some of the pieces prior to SIHH on a confidential basis and had time to talk with Cerrato about the impetus behind his designs. We will share that in a moment. The point is, Montblanc recognized a void in its lineup.
The brand went back to its Minerva roots (founded in 1858 in Villeret), to its superb early 20th century chronograph experience (and then cutting-edge watches that could time to 1/100th of a second), and reconceived its chronographs that had become the reference in chronograph timekeeping invention. The brand, under Cerrato’s direction, then unveiled a fresh new collection that runs the gamut from high design to high technology.
“For us the re-launch of TimeWalker was all about communicating the legacy of Minerva,” explained Davide Cerrato in that n interview. “In 1936, we unveiled the 1/100th of a second watch, which at that time was like rocket science. We timed water polo, rowing and horseracing and we had the rally timer for auto racing in the 1960’s. It was a glorious time and re-introducing that was key. “
However, Cerrato admitted that it wasn’t good enough to just create a chronograph. It had to be more. The brand spent a great deal of time researching the archives and developing watches with sporty details that recall the periods of sports timing. Using the original Rally Timer as its reference for one critical watch in the new line-up, Montblanc developed the current Rally Timer, which is a 1/1000th of a second watch with a Minerva movement.
“It was the overall design of the Rally Timer that inspired this complete line,” explained Cerrato. “And to be considered as a serious sports watch, we had to answer to a precise set of requirements that include water resistance to 100 meters, scratch resistance, antireflective sapphires and SuperLuminova. Additionally, our 500 Hours testing that is usually used only on the high-end watches is now applied to all the TimeWalkers, as well.”
According to Cerrato – who has now been firmly planted at Montblanc for more than 18 months – it was all about making the coolest chronograph on the market. “You bring all your experience to the table, the mistakes you’ve made, things you learned, different design inspiration from other worlds and things take shape. With this line, everything comes together so that when you see it, you say ‘Wow, what a watch’.”
Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic and TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Limited Edition 100
Indeed, the Montblanc TimeWalker Collection was born of passion. Not just of Cerrato’s passion for design and difference, but also the brand’s passion for technology and craftsmanship. It is a winning combination – especially when teaming with the Goodwood Festival.
In fact, Montblanc used the recent Goodwood Festival as the backdrop to showcase two new TimeWalker watches: TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic in rose gold and TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Limited Edition 100 call all in black. Each of these watches is representative of modern styling, inspired by motor sports, complete with counters recalling dashboards of classic racecars and more.
The TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic in 18-karat 5N rose gold follows on the heels of its stainless steel sibling. The new watch features a contrasting black ceramic bezel and a matching black and rose gold-plated dial with minute track, hour and minute hands and indexes all rose gold-plated. The 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters are vertically aligned and a central red hand with Minerva arrow tip records the chronograph seconds. The 43mm watch is powered by the calibre MB 25.07, is water resistant to 100 metres, and has been rigorously tested by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500. It retails for $19,500.
The new Montblanc TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Chronograph Limited Edition 100 combines Montblanc’s exclusive in-house patented one-minute ExoTourbillon with a quick stop-second mechanism and a monopusher chronograph for a highly complex yet contemporary timepiece. We will bring you more details about this watch soon, as it warrants a much closer look. However, suffice it to say at it is an incredibly alluring timepiece wrought with mechanical advances as well as aesthetic ones — all indicative of the passion of Montblanc.