The Swatch Group luxury brand claims that moon-phase complication have been pretty much extinct from the early 1980s when Blancpain revived a adore for them.
At SIHH 2017, Montblanc revamped its TimeWalker collection in a big way, releasing multiple new models including chronographs and simple three-handers. For 2018, Montblanc is bolstering the TimeWalker collection with several new models, two of which we are taking a look at here. First, there’s the Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph, which is powered by an in-house chronograph movement; and then there’s the vintage-inspired Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100, which is limited to 100 pieces.
Let’s begin with the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph. One can think of this as an updated version of last year’s TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic. Last year’s model was powered by a movement derived from a Sellita SW500. The new TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph, on the other hand, features Montblanc’s own in-house automatic chronograph movement.
The TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph comes in a 43mm wide satin-finished stainless steel case that is about 15mm thick and has a rated water resistance of 100m. The bezel, which has a tachymeter scale, is made of black ceramic.
The panda-style dial is white with black counters at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. At 3 o’clock you have the 30-minute counter, and at 9 o’clock you have the 12-hour counter, whereas the counter at 6 o’clock shows the running seconds. A date window has been neatly tucked in at around 4:30 and it has rhodium-plated dauphine hands filled with Super-LumiNova. A noteworthy element is the red chronograph seconds hand that pays tribute to the Minerva arrow.
The movement within is the Montblanc manufacture caliber MB 25.10. It is a self-winding chronograph movement made out of 232 components, and it uses a column-wheel mechanism with a horizontal clutch. It beats at 4Hz and has a power reserve of about 46 hours. The movement is visible through a sapphire display caseback with details like Côtes de Genève, circular graining, blued screws, and a rotor made out of black rhodium-plated tungsten.
The other new chronograph watch is the TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100. This is a new version of last year’s TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 watch that we saw hands-on here. This particular piece is inspired by the Minerva Rally Timer from the ’60s and comes in a 50mm wide titanium case that is meant to be transformable for use as a pocket watch, desk clock (it’s big enough), or even a car dashboard attachment. The loop-style leather strap can be easily removed like a NATO strap, and the lugs then fold into the caseback. The case also can be rotated between the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions to get a better viewing angle while, say, driving. The case has a knurled middle section coated with black DLC and satin finishing on the top. The large crown is positioned at 12 o’clock in relation to the dial, and it is also made out of titanium.
The dial has a reverse panda configuration where it is black with white counters – last year’s model had an entirely black dial. There’s a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock and a sub-dial that displays the running seconds at 6 o’clock. Like the earlier TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph, the TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100 also features a red chronograph seconds hand to reference the Minerva arrow.
The movement is the Montblanc in-house MB M16.29, which is inspired by the original Minerva caliber 17.29 developed in the 1930s. This is a hand-wound movement that beats at 2.5Hz and has a power reserve of 50 hours. It is uses German silver plates and bridges, with decorative elements like hand-chamfered edges, Côtes de Genève, circular graining, diamond-polished surfaces, and more. See images of this movement in the above linked-to hands-on article.
The TimeWalker has been the best-selling collection for Montblanc in the United States for a long time so it makes sense for the company to invest heavily and focus on it. I suspect the new Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph will be popular as it has very likable aesthetics and is priced quite attractively at €4,990. The Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100, on the other hand, is priced at €37,000, is limited to 100 pieces, and will most likely appeal to diehard Montblanc and Minerva fans. montblanc.com