From its origins in 1906, Montblanc has been a favorite of pen enthusiasts. While there was no doubt of the company’s expertise in high-end writing instruments, their watches didn’t create much excitement for collectors. Watch geeks didn’t take them seriously because of the sourced ETA movements inside. I’m not talking about the handmade Villeret collection that debuted in 2007 after Richemont put the ailing Minerva factory in Montblanc’s care. These play in a different league and price point starting at 50K and working their way up into mid-six figures.
But it can be easier to pull off a couple dozen high-end pieces per year than put out a quality production watch. What about giving Montblanc’s regular collection some new life’s blood? Almost in answer to the unspoken question, a year later in 2008 Montblanc debuted the Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph, named after the inventor of the complication. Paying homage to the original, the counters use rotating disks and fixed hands rather than the reverse like the industry standard. Most impressively Montblanc didn’t outsource the movement, per usual. No, they built this column-wheel chronograph themselves at their manufacture in Le Locle.
Okay, Montblanc was able to pull off one movement. What if it was a fluke? It takes more than one good calibre to show you’ve got the goods and convince the skeptics.
Proving that the Nicolas Rieusec wasn’t the only trick in their bag, Montblanc once again came out with a new manufacture movement in 2011. The TimeWalker TwinFly Chronograph holds Calibre MB LL100, another column-wheel chrono added to the stable. With this watch, released in a limited edition of 300, Montblanc continues to show creativity in expressing intervals of time.
Unlike any other chronograph currently on the market, the elapsed seconds and minutes hands are co-axial. The minutes hand, which marks time on the 60-minute counter in the center of the multi-layered dial, remains hidden behind the seconds hand until the chronograph function is started. True to its name, TwinFly, the minutes and seconds hands will flyback to zero once the pusher at 4 o’clock is pressed, quickly enabling the measurement of a new interval without fumbling around with start, stop and reset. If that weren’t enough, the TwinFly includes in the package a date and 24-hour second time zone at 12 o’clock so you won’t unexpectedly get left in the dark.
In order to give the movement extra power, Montblanc uses a double barrel. On a full wind, the TwinFly will keep ticking for about 72 hours, which gets you through the weekend if you decide not to wear the watch. However, the TwinFly doesn’t need to be babied. The 43mm stainless steel case is constructed from titanium with a black DLC coating. Though it’s tough and can take a bit of rough and tumble, that doesn’t take away from its sleek look. Like all the TimeWalker watches, this one features sloping hollowed out lugs that grip the wrist and the Montblanc star set in the crown. Montblanc has always been into the details, and here is no exception: the case finish is top notch.What’s really attractive, however, is the price. You get the whole package for $8,900 on a strap. For a few hundred bucks more, $9,210, Montblanc offers a bracelet version.
Montblance did release another version of the TwinFly this year called the GreyTech, but this price jumps to over 15K with the titanium case. We recommend finding the stainless version. If you’ve bypassed Montblanc as a serious watch, it’s time to take a second look.