< In Person>
In a chat with Mitrajit Bhattacharya Montblanc Managing Director, Watches, Alexander Schmiedt talks about the brand’s new push in fine watchmaking , Meisterstück Heritage Collection in particular
If you could just take us through what are the key launches of this year?
One of the key launches is the Meisterstück Heritage Collection. This year we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Meisterstück Fountain Pen, which was first presented in 1924. In 2014 we want to take the spirit of Meisterstück into a new watch collection. To really share the passion of fine watchmaking, for us means from high complication down to really an elegant, refined, focused on essentials, beautiful timepieces.
What is Meisterstück all about?
It starts with a beautiful complication, a monopusher chronograph, all that is necessary in fine watchmaking. A dial with three-dimensional applied indices, dial’s sunray finishing, blued hands for the chronograph, and beautiful hand-finished movement from our Villeret manufacturer. It’s limited to 90 pieces.
What calibre does the watch house?
It’s a calibre from our Villeret manufacturer—a perpetual calendar. It comes in two versions, in stainless steel and in rose gold.
Interesting! A perpetual calendar in steel.
With this piece, we really want to bring the complication into a new segment. Again, the code and expression of fine watchmaking timepiece is intact. The watch has an elegant case with different finishings, matte and polished. The perpetual calendar function comes with week day, date, month, leap year, and a moon phase with moon age. You have pure elegance on the Meisterstück Heritage movement, 39 and 41mm cases in rose gold, steel, steel gold. 41mm comes in steel with metal and leather bracelets. It has an elegant two hand timepiece, the hours and minutes, slim case, executed in the same way as the grand complications.
Anything on Nicolas Rieussec?
Yes, it goes back to the origin of Rieussec, to the first Time Writer. We have taken inspiration directly from that original design. We have almost enamelled hours ring and the turning disc. We have the chronograph indicator, exactly inspired by the form of historical nib which wrote time, literally. It has a grained dial with a sober look, but on top of that you have an innovative effect because the hour ring is not made of enamel but hybrid ceramics. Within the hybrid ceramics, you have Superluminova pigments integrated into the ring. During the day, you don’t see anything. You don’t see any unevenness.
When you look at it in the dark, you will see actually the face of the watch is changing because the white ring disappears. This is limited to 565 pieces in steel and 293 in rose gold.
Why is the number limited to 565 pieces?
The first digit stands for Rieussec’s five major inventions during his life, he was the sixth watchmaker to the King, and last digit is about the number of patents that he received on his chronograph in 1830. We have two great pieces that represent the spirit of ‘Sharing the Passion for fine Watchmaking’. One of them is the Star Twin Moonphase. It is a new interpretation of the classic complication. You have the disc here which indicates moon phase of the Northern Hemisphere. At the bottom, the hand indicates what this means for the Southern Hemisphere. If the moon is half full on the Northern Hemisphere, it is half empty on the Southern Hemisphere. On top of that, the other tip of the hand shows you the age of the moon in days.
Is there a patent on this?
No. We have exclusivity on the movement which we have developed together with a specialised complication movement provider.
And what’s new from TimeWalker this year?
We also have some novelties in TimeWalker. This year, we want to bring TimeWalker more in the direction of innovative materials, innovation and performance. We have the TimeWalker Chronograph DLC Extreme, DLC matte steel case, scratch-resistant, clearly readable, sporty black dial with different finishings and readable, contrasted luminous Superluminova, and Superluminova hands, and a special leather strap. We call it the Montblanc Extreme leather strap. It looks like carbon almost, but it’s actually calf leather with a carbon surface and a special coating which makes it water resistant, scratch resistant, erosion resistant, all that based on a rubber base. This strap is developed by a leather manufacturer in Florence. We are going to launch 100th of the second chronograph with a Villeret movement in a sporty, dynamic TimeWalker case of titanium, titanium DLC, and carbon.
Moving away from products, what do you think are the key developments which are happening in the fine watchmaking area?
It’s good to say, but you see you have certain complications which have been there for watchmaking since long. They always come back in one way or the other, basically reinventing themselves. Moonphase is a complication which has been there for a long time. Every year, we have had some new ways how a moon phases has been presented. Annual and perpetual calendars are very much in demand. We are trying to push the boundaries ideally in a way that is combining tradition and innovation in a meaningful way.
How far has Montblanc travelled in the space of fine watchmaking in the past five years?
We are investing a lot in our competences, in our manufacturers. Today, we really have these two complementary manufacturers in Villeret and Le Locle and combining the two varying strengths of those two enabled us to make something which is I believe unique, to really present fine watchmaking timepieces from the high complication down to attractively priced models for the watch lovers.