The Montblanc TimeWalker collection gets a thrilling overhaul that channels the glory and excitement of motor racing.
Many of us have come to associate the Minerva manufacture with the Montblanc Villeret collection’s ultra-complicated tourbillons and vintage-styled tachy meters. But the Villeret-based workshop, which Richemont acquired 10 years ago, also has a long history of making superb chrono graphs. And it is this complication and the auto racing world it is intrinsically connected to, that serves as the inspiration for a completely revamped TimeWalker line.
Minerva first developed stopwatches that could measure 1/5th of a second all the way back in 1911, and quickly improved its accuracy to 1/10th of a second shortly after. By 1916, the manufacture became the first to produce a high-frequency movement capable of measuring 1/100th of a second. This stopwatch, together with its split seconds function, made it the official timekeeper for the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The column-wheel actuated calibre also made it the watch of choice for militaries during World War II.
Minerva hasn’t stopped its love affair with chrono graphs. The Montblanc Villeret 1858 Vintage Pulso graphe and the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter from recent years show more of the same exquisite finishing and craftsmanship in designs inspired by its rich heritage. The new TimeWalker collection is similarly drawn from this tradition but is free of Villeret’s historic design codes. This allows the TimeWalker to continue its contemporary sports aesthetic, only now it is driven primarily by the world of racing.
In this new collection you will find case materials like high-tech black ceramic, satin-brushed steel, and titanium. The semi-skeletonised lugs are inspired by the aerodynamic lines of classic cars, while the knurled bezel, crowns and pushers are reminiscent of vintage car caps. The smoked glass exhibition case backs are a nod to the glass windows covering V12 engines, and no automotive watch is complete without perforated straps that pay tribute to vintage leather racing gloves.
But with five models anchoring the new collection, which should you go for? If getting them all isn’t an option, allow us to point you in the direction of the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC and TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic to start with, as they are two references that strike a perfect balance between design, performance and value.
The TimeWalker Chronograph UTC is a traveller’s dream. The 43mm DLC-coated steel case houses the automatic Calibre MB 25.03, a modified Valjoux movement that offers two additional time zone displays, on top of the chronograph function. The local time (which the date is synchronised to) is indicated with the rhodium-plated hands, while home time can be read via a darker, slimmer hand tipped with a Super Luminova filled red arrow. Finally, the unidirectional ceramic bezel features a 24-hour scale for the third time zone.
The subsidiary dials for the chronograph are set at 12 o’clock for the 30-minute counter and 6 o’clock for the hours. The chronograph seconds are marked by a red central hand with a tip shaped like the Minerva manufacture’s signature arrow. The black dial, together with its silver and red elements and dauphine hands, are modelled after a car dashboard, and the numerals’ font (lifted from the previous generation of TimeWalker watches) keeps it highly legible. Unwound, the watch will keep going for about 46 hours.
Without the extra time zones, the TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic is a slightly pared down version of its UTC big brother. It is a straightforward three-register chronograph with the same red chronograph seconds hand, so the running seconds has been moved to a small register at 9 o’clock. The date window can still be found at 3 o’clock, adding to the convenience of this everyday timepiece. It’s powered by Calibre MB 25.07, a modified Sellita SW 500, and comes with a power reserve of 46 hours and beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph.
These are also as sturdy as they look, having gone through 500 hours of testing under various extreme conditions, and are also water-resistant to 100m. Both chrono graphs come with a choice of three different strap options: perforated rubber, perforated leather and a three-link metal bracelet.
(clockwise from left) Perforated straps pay tribute to vintage leather racing gloves in the new TimeWalker collection. Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18. The Minerva stopwatch was the official timekeeper for the 1936 Winter Olympics. The collection takes its design cues from the racing world.