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Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

While most press attention at SIHH is grabbed by the flashiest, largest, and most complicated pieces, some of the more simple pieces are going entirely unnoticed. And that’s a shame. In a market full of massive grand complications, minute repeaters, tourbillons, equation-of-times, and the like, it is refreshing to see the exact opposite being given the same level of attention by some manufactures. Several brands have unveiled new svelte, ultra-thin, simply designed pieces for 2015 (Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre have done a particularly good job in this arena), but in my opinion, the most exceptional of the lot is a masterful new Heritage Chronométrie collection by Montblanc.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

Making waves in the luxury industry (and within the Richemont Group itself, for that matter) for the past few years, Montblanc continues to impress with an expanding line of exquisitely designed timepieces with a serious emphasis on value. One piece in particular, the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim, may just set the bar for incredible looks and impressive quality with a shockingly low price tag.

NITTY GRITTY

The new model easily captures the essence of slim and sophisticated. Featuring a 38mm case in either stainless steel (Reference 112515) or 18k red gold (Reference 112516) with subtly curved horn lugs, its classically good looks and proportions make a real impression on and off the wrist – its appearance is enhanced by its slender 5.8mm thickness and full grain black alligator strap.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

Both versions feature a white/silver tone dial, simple in layout and free of unnecessary clutter. Arabic numerals sit at the four main points (3,6,9, and 12), while simple stick markers fill in the remaining eight positions. A subtle chapter ring encircles the outer rim of the dial, while the brand’s name and “Mechanique” are printed just below the 12 o’clock position. The markers and hands on the steel version are rhodium plated, and plated in gold on the red gold version.

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Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

Under the hood is Montblanc’s Calibre MB 23.01, a 17-jewel manually wound two-hand unit with an estimated power reserve of 42 hours. Basic and simply decorated, this movement can be viewed through a sapphire display back. Sapphire covers the front side, as well. With a non-screw crown, this watch has water resistance of only 3 bar, but this shouldn’t really be a consideration when picking a dress watch.

WEARABILITY

Like other categories in the timepiece world, ultra-slim models either work on the wrist or they don’t. Although this is an obviously universal truth, it may be even more noteworthy on watches of this type. After all, there isn’t much of the watch to begin with, and if what there is doesn’t fit well, that’s pretty much all she wrote.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim is one of those ultra-slims that does work on the wrist. A combination of perfect proportions and design ensured that everyone who tried it on in my company at SIHH gave it universal praise. Despite the objections of some more vocal holdouts of the Giant Watches Are Better Brigade (I’m looking at you, Ariel*), 38mm, in my opinion, is the perfect size for a piece of this type. With its reserved dimensions, it fits comfortably under the cuff without completely disappearing, and fits nicely against the skin with its curved lugs and rounded case back.

Perhaps the best quality of the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim in regards to wearability is its heft. This is not to suggest it is heavy – it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination – but it has a great solid feel that exudes the high levels of workmanship that went into constructing it. In other words, its cost belies its quality.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

*To his credit, Ariel tried it on and actually found it to be – in his words – “shockingly wearable.” If you know him, you know this is a big deal, as he often labels anything under 42mm to be “girls’ watches.”

VERDICT

Building a smartly designed ultra-slim watch that checks all of the boxes is a tall order for most manufactures. I do have a singular gripe, and that is that I would loved to have seen the blued steel hands used on other models in the Heritage collection make an appearance on the steel model Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim – but that’s just personal aesthetic preference speaking. Beyond that, this piece is in my opinion damn near perfect.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim Hands-On Hands-On

What puts the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim ahead of its competitors in my mind can be summed up in a single word: value. With quoted prices of 1,900 euros, or $2,260 USD, for this version in steel, and 5,500 euros (about $6400) in solid red gold, the value proposition weighs very heavily in its favor. For comparison, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 38mm Master Ultra Thin shares the same basic design language but clocks in at around $8,200 in steel and nearly $15k in red gold.

While the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim red gold model carries an obvious premium due to the precious metal content, the fact that you could buy one for less than the cost of JLC’s steel model is impressive. And $2,200ish is just plain ridiculous. This watch not only looks the part, but it is the part. Basically, I think everyone should have one. Like, everyone. This is an obvious choice for a tuxedo watch, perfect for weddings and other formal occasions. Even if you only strapped it on once or twice a year, it would still be a brilliant piece to add to any collection – at exceptional value. montblanc.com

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  • amoeba

    The movement looks like the Peseux/ETA 7001. Still, at a lower price than handwound Nomos models which uses the same movement but with bridges replaced by a 3/4 plate, this looks like a winner.

    Dial and hands are too similar to the JLC Master Control though.

  • VM1960

    Always liked the Montblanc aesthetic. A real winner.

  • thornwood36

    For some people it”s shoes, for others fingernails etc , for me ( and probably everyone on this blog ) it’s the watch/timepiece that someone has strapped on. If i saw this i would think a man who likes things neat and uncluttered. and has an eye for quality and value. its lovely

  • joshgraves

    I love the simplicity…this will be in my watchbox.  Montblanc is one of my favorite watchmakers and I’m glad to see that they can get attention for something that is not a grand complication.

  • pinkdela

    Very nice! How many of us can buy a 6 figure watch? Im not saying this is remarkable or something that will trascend in the anals of watchmaking. This a beautiful looking piece, I don´t think is pretencious or copying any other watch (like other pieces MB presented during the SIHH). This is a plain, nice looking, life companion piece for those who are always asking in the forums for  something under $XXXX,  to wear that is an actual time keeper with cachet and will make them feel plenty. 
    Kudos for this MB, and Jerome Lambert

  • MarkDevious

    I don’t particularly WANT to like Montblancs (because I have issues with some of their designs and movement decorations), but man, this watch ticks EVERY box in the dress watch category. 

    Traditional size, laid indices, sunburst dial, thin case, hand wound, great looking movement, super clean design, very good price, and, dare I say… brand value.

    The design reminds me of the new IWC Portugieser anniversary watch, but I like this MB design a little better since it doesn’t have the odd looking minute/second tracks.

    Normally, I dislike the printed “Montblanc” on their dials, because it looks cheap. But on this watch, I think it works due to the vintage-y design.

    I’m buying this for certain. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, James!

  • If this had a central seconds hand, I would be infinitely more interested. A seconds hand doesn’t make it any less of a dress watch, and omitting it makes it look a little unfinished.
    Very lovely otherwise.

  • Fraser Petrick

    SuperStrapper  I can live without a seconds hand. In fact, I think it makes the watch a little more mysterious.

  • Fraser Petrick

    My kind of watch: simple, honest, unpretentious.

  • To each his own. Personally, I wonder what the point of a mechanical movement in a watch with just hour and minute hands.

  • pinkdela

    In order yo keep the profile of the watch that thin, central seconds has to go out. Several of the most important calibers in the history of watchmaking don’t use seconds i.e .JLC 889. I’m not comparing this movements. I’m saying that central seconds are not necessary at all. But as SuperStrapper states for the tastes, there are colors.

  • 5803822

    In terms of price and quality – I hope this sets the bar for other manufacturers,

  • BigMike213

    Very lovely, but I would’ve loved a central or sub seconds dial as well.

  • thebalancecock

    Prediction: watchmakers will start making watches that “make sense” finally and sales will go up encouraging modest proportions and less flashy aesthetics.

  • amoeba Thanks for catching the use of an ETA 7001 movement. Looking at ETA tech docs, it is a dead ringer (outside of markings and decoration). At this price point, I have no issue with their using an ETA movement. Looks like the movement has been around since 1972 and runs at 2.5 Hz (18,000 bph), all of which does take away anything from the watch. And yeah, they could have done a small seconds as the movement supports that at 6.

  • pinkdela But the ETA 7001 movement (which this appears to really be) does support a small second at 6.

  • There is nothing at all to dislike about this watch. Seems to tick most everyone’s design aesthetic list. I’m just afraid I’d fall asleep every time I glance at the time.

  • pinkdela

    Absolutely it does. But not keeping it at this height. Would be an indirect module.

  • pinkdela The small seconds appears to be an integral part of the movement and that MB just chose not to use it. Refer to the tech doc from ETA: https://secure.eta.ch/CSP/DesktopModules/ViewDoc.aspx?tabindex=1&tabid=28&DocId=948&DocType=DT

  • captaina16

    Perhaps I’ve missed something, but as a simple dress watch I find this lacking. The only small redeeming quality is the slimness. Some simple designs immediately appear correct. The proportion of width to the complete dial is wrong. It is too wide. It does not please my eye. Look at an old Omega Constellation and you will see the correct radius to overall width of the dial. represented correctly.

  • pinkdela What the lack of a small seconds does is allow for shorter pinions and hence a thinner watch overall. But the gearing for the small seconds is there in the movement.

  • Time2Go

    Chaz_Hen I’m with ya. Personally I’d love a central seconds hand (as discussed below) to reduce the sleepy factor.  We just don’t get enough long, sweeping seconds hands these days!

  • anew

    Nice watch, the dial’s a little too “1948 jumbo omega” (aka spread out) for my taste, but I dig the svelte case.

  • Time2Go Chaz_Hen I’m quite happy with my late ’40s gold IWC cal.89 hand winder with center seconds. Ah, but if it were only 38mm!!!

  • pinkdela

    Hola Mark. If you read my post I always speak about central seconds, not subsidiary seconds, but thank you for sharing information. iMHO. Sub seconds would look quite odd in this type of Watch. Mr Lambert knows aesthetics quite well. There are a lot of opinions about this one. So I guess that MB did something good.
    Would be nice to read your impressions about the watch itself, you know that inside of this case it’s not the real appeal of it. I look forward In reading your posts about the whole SIHH.

  • pinkdela Guess we were talking about different things, no sweat. I’m with Chaz on this watch (he said it would put his to sleep). Nice, competent, but for me it does not inspire “want”. I do appreciate its thinness and restrained looks which are just right for a dress watch. But it’s a bit too generic looking for me is all. I’m glad they are making it though. Cheers.

  • Is Montblanc aiming at displacing Baume & Mercier?

  • emenezes No…B&M is utter crap, whereas MB has promise….

  • nickyb66

    Nice numerals, very similar to IWC Portuguese. Personally I think the movement showing at the back looks small. Otherwise a fine watch.

  • Fantastic VFM here! I am currently looking at nomos (autocorrected to “gnomes” btw) and this is a serious contender for a <40mm dress watch with a good price! I would actually even consider the red gold!

    One minor quibble, I would place the “mecanique” text on the bottom of the dial to balance it out a bit.

  • Ulysses31

    It’s nice, subtle.  I like the concentric rings on the back.  Nevermind the watch though, show me more of that shirt.

  • DG Cayse

    One of the more accurate offerings for a “dress watch.”
    Well done.

  • Lkcons

    Man, I like the shirt! The watch? Yawn….

  • hatster

    Just simply lovely. The simplicity that others mention is key. Like the old Omega Railmaster, it is wonderfully understated and as a result just oozes class. Like Panagotis below, I would break one of my few ‘watch rules’ and consider the gold version. It is a watch for someone who wants subtlety, not one that yells about itself from the rooftops.

  • hatster

    Panagiotis Have to agree, I am not a fan of pink gold but on this one, it works.

  • Jingo Lingo

    Nice watch at a nice price. Silly comparing it to JLC. This is an ETA movement after all. Nomos would be a better comparison.

  • MisterDeal

    Jingo Lingo Even the Nomos has an in-house movement as well. This is nice, however.

  • MisterDeal

    pinkdela Also compare Hamilton Intra-Matic etc. It’s a very mid-century move to leave out the second hand.

  • bnabod

    Chaz_Hen emenezes

    not sure about utter crap that seems to be a tad biased. the flyback chrono in my book is quite stellar…just saying

  • bnabod

    saw a passenger last night on flight home with a Montblanch timewalker gmt at 12.05mm thick I thought it was so discreet then here at 5ish mm you probably would not even notice you are wearing a watch.  I say good work Montblanc even though simple plain watches like this don’t do it for me. I can easily see why they survive the test of time.

  • amoeba

    MisterDeal Jingo Lingo Well, the Nomos Alpha is just the eta 7001 with a 3/4 plate swap. In fact, early Tangente models came wit the 7001 unmodified.

  • MarcusMak

    @4K USD, Mont Blanc Steel version is still quite likeable.

  • SantiagoT

    MarkCarson pinkdela SuperStrapper Chaz_Hen They did present an automatic version with central seconds hand and date, but there is no information in the press kit nor on their website, at least for the moment. I will ask their people here in Madrid. 

    Proof pic:

  • SantiagoT MarkCarson pinkdela SuperStrapper Chaz_Hen It needs a stick maker at 6. The date (location constrained by the movement) “floats” up too high and leave too much space between it and “Swiss Made”.

  • SantiagoT

    MarkCarson SantiagoT pinkdela SuperStrapper Chaz_Hen Good point Mark, totally true.
    .
    Also, when I was young there were cars which came from the factory with a metal sticker saying “5 gears”, or “turbo”, or even “air conditioning” because it was something new and stuff (and totally tacky). Well, I don’t know why they still write the “automatic” thing. We know, for f*cks sake.

    You start up with “automatic” and you end up with

  • SantiagoT MarkCarson pinkdela SuperStrapper Chaz_Hen Or for the obvious, but less bombastic we could have this:

  • SantiagoT

    MarkCarson SantiagoT pinkdela SuperStrapper Chaz_Hen LMAO. Teh winnar is you!
    Bed time for me now. Cheers Mark.

  • mrfreaz

    MarkCarson pinkdela Thanks for ID’ing the movement for us, I was wondering about that!  You don’t see many of these in watches today, do you? Most ultra thins use a quartz. It has a nice, very clean design, but I’m with you that it’s a tad too simple. It would have looked more interesting with sub-seconds, and I could see a black dial, maybe something along the lines of a Cellini. . Needs something… maybe a black and white MB crown? Price is good, though.

    • Dan Finch

      About the simplist watch you can get! Respectible pedigree in MB without being too flashy of a brand and is a good fit with their heritage line. But the tiny movement is a little passé. Same ETA perseaux one used in many old wind Ups. I understand it’s reliable and that’s how they got the thing so thin at this price. The eta 2801 would have been more modern choice but probably would have added thickness. I would prefer a closed case back, like Cartier does with their common ETA models. Which would have fit the watch’s character…

  • JeviarDfirst

    Jingo Lingo hell no. this calibre made by minerva, the same calibre that being used on their own watch before they were sold. it was around 34mm wide and montblanc remake it for an 38mm watch. get the fact right dude!

  • I_G

    JeviarDfirst This is a refinished 7001 dude, even Stevie Wonder can see it dude!

  • Wimal

    Where might be the best place to buy this watch ?

  • Dan Finch

    Just snatched one of these up on the used market. Had trouble finding a one new, since according to MontBlanc, they discontinued it. I guess it may not have been such a big seller. But I always wanted a hand wind dress watch, and they are really hard to find these days with everything being so automatic. After doing the winding thing every morning for a week, I can see the novelty starting to wear off! But to me, it’s nice to have at least one hand winder in the collection, especially if you wear it infrequently.

    The watch itself has a quiet elegance about it. It is very thin, very simple, and very refined. I think 6mm is optimal, and I don’t think it would be an advantage to go any thinner. If it didn’t have a modern display caseback, you could easily mistake it for one of those svelte vintage wind up dress watch from their peak in the sixties/seventies. It’s that classic! But it is nice to be able to admire that little movement ticking away. I don’t mind not having a seconds hand, it seems to fit the character of the watch just fine. With the minutes track, you can actually get a good idea of the exact time, and I am able to see that it is keeping really accurate time. With the 500 hours test, I think that MB adjusted the movement well. All in all, it is a pretty unique piece at a bargain. And in Gold it would be even better!

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