Montblanc — more specifically, its Minerva manufacture — has a lengthy history developing some of the most attractive and mechanically-potent chronographs on the planet. All the way back in 1911, Minerva had developed stopwatches that could measure 1/5th of a second. In 1916, only five years later, the Minerva Manufacture was one of the first to develop a high-frequency movement that could measure 1/100th of a second, a development that was later improved upon in the mid-1930s.
The latest introduction to Montblanc’s storied chronograph history is the “Panda”-dial version of the TimeWalker Chronograph — a welcome addition to the brand’s stable of vintage-inspired looks.
Inside the 43-mm timepiece, the Montblanc Manufacture chronograph Caliber MB 25.10 offers interesting new developments, such as a monobloc oscillating weight made of black rhodium-plated tungsten and designed in the shape of a steering wheel. It also includes more classical features such as côtes de Genève finishing, circular graining, and blued screws. The movement is equipped with a traditional column wheel, horizontal coupling, and a stop-seconds mechanism.
The watch comes with either a stainless steel bracelet or a brown Sfumato-aged calf leather strap with perforated holes. The strap is hand-crafted at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence and comes fitted with the brand’s triple folding clasp.
Next up, we have a timepiece that inverts the “Panda Dial” trend with the Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph, which is limited to 100 total pieces. Here, we have a timepiece that is inspired by a 1960s stopwatch Minerva had produced, but it bucks its past life by allowing the ability to customize the watch into either a pocketwatch or a dashboard clock.
The watch is powered by one of Minerva’s iconic hand-wound manufacture monopusher chronograph calibers: MB M16.29, to be exact. At 50 mm, the watch is definitely large but that’s in part due to its customizable attributes. All but the middle section of the case —which is coated with black DLC and knurled — is made of grade-two titanium that has been satin-finished.
It also comes on a Sfumato-aged leather calf strap, which allows easy conversion from wristwatch to pocketwatch by folding the strap attachments under the case. The pocketwatch can then be either placed on a table, thanks to two arms below the case, used as a stopwatch with the strap as a handle for security, or clipped into a metal plate covered with leather that attaches to a car’s dashboard. The caseback is open and in the shape of a car grill that displays the gorgeous, hand-finished movement.
We also have two new additions to the Star Legacy collection that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. These, again, are inspired by Minerva pocketwatches of yesteryear, including the Gold Hunter Caliber 19 from 1927.
First off, we have the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph that comes in at 42 mm with a stainless steel case that protects the Caliber MB 25.02.
The new Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph comes on a blue Sfumato alligator leather strap hand-crafted by Montblanc’s Florence atelier. It’s a fairly traditional chronograph that features the usual trappings you’d find, other than curved horns and steps on the side, an onion-shaped crown with the Montblanc emblem, and a curved finish on the side of the case itself.
Last but not least, the Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph offers a more refined take on the Rieussec line that has existed since 2008, making 2018 the ten-year anniversary. If you need to brush up on horological trivia, Nicolas Riussec was a French watchmaker in the early 1800s who invented the first inkling chronograph. It was specifically developed to more accurately measure the running times of individual horses in a race.
The upcoming 2018 model has been reworked to include a dome over the off-centered hour-circle and the chronograph’s titanium turning disks. The black Arabic numerals are skinnier than in previous iterations and surrounded by a railway minute track. The silvery-white dial is decorated with impressive guilloché work, blue finishing in the center of the hour-circle, and a filet sauté decoration that circles the dial. A ring with the Nicolas Rieussec inscription has been applied on the dial’s outer section.
The timepiece features a 44.8-mm case with curved finishing on the sides. It’s powered by the Caliber MB R200 which is equipped with a column-wheel mechanism that controls the monopusher chronograph. The connection between the gear train and the chronograph’s wheels is alternately engaged and disengaged through vertical coupling and is supposed to function without wear and tear. It prevents the elapsed time disks from jumping when the chronograph is switched on.
The movement has two barrels that store enough energy for 72 hours of power reserve. The timepiece is equipped with two rotating vertically-aligned discs for the monopusher chronograph’s 60-second and 30-minute counters that turns below a blued double index. A second time zone is displayed by a skeletonized hand on the off-centered dial.