Having mentioned this before, I will reiterate that the Montblanc Timewalker has been a watch that I've appreciated for a long time. For years the design and concept behind the Timewalker has kept me thinking "damn, that is a really nice watch... I seriously want one" That specific emotional connection isn't easy to reach, and only a handful of watch collections out there keep my interest for so long. For that reason I was more than happy to spend some quality time with this special timepiece that isn't only a Timewalker, but also a watch that contains a brand new and totally unique in-house movement made by Montblanc at their Le Locle manufacture in Switzerland.
Aside from the higher-end happenings over at Montblanc Villeret, this is the second in-house movement family the brand has offered for their higher-volume pieces. The first in-house Montblanc movement (the calibre R200 family) is used for the brand's now iconic Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph watch collection that I reviewed here. In that review I not only discussed the Nicolas Rieussec watch, but also showed you views of the Le Locle manufacture itself where many of the movements are produced.
The second in-house movement from Montblanc is the calibre MB LL100 automatic chronograph. It is a very clever multi-featured movement with a lot to love for both style and gadget fans. Montblanc chose the Timewalker collection to house the LL100 and the result is this beautiful new Timewalker TwinFly Chronograph.
For this review I have the limited edition version which is made in titanium with a DLC (diamond like carbon) coating. It is sporty and light with a very durable finish. Available as a limited edition of just 300 pieces, there is also the standard Timewalker TwinFly Chronograph for 2011 that is in steel and available on a bracelet or strap. In my opinion this titanium DLC model shows off the TwinFly look and feel perfectly. The case and dial tone match together seamlessly offering a design that I've not seen before in the Timewalker collection.
While this is a novel watch for Montblanc, the case is all Timewalker. That beautiful bowl shape is 43mm wide and is as comfortable as ever. Those familiar with Timewalker pieces will recognize the skeletonized lugs (which is continued onto the skeletonized ardillon buckle on the strap). Size feels very appropriate without being too large or small. Even though the case is not per se "slim," for some reason it feels like a slim watch - must be how the case hugs my wrist. One thing I would like to see improved in the future is water resistance. All Timewalker cases that I have seen are water resistant to 30 meters only, and I would ask Montblanc to perhaps push that to 100 meters in the future. Interesting on this DLC dark gray model is just how much the Montblanc white star logo on the crown is visible.
One of the things you need to know about the star logo is that it actually is a top to bottom view of a snow capped mountain. Which mountain? You guessed it, Montblanc. And what a perfect name being "white mountain" for having a snowy peak. The logo shows up again on the rotor of the movement and in the lug and buckle screws.
Is this a sport watch? It sort of feels that way. I don't that it is entirely a sport watch, but it feels on the sportier side - at least compared to other Timewalker pieces. Actually, come to think of it the entire Timewalker series rides this fine line between sport and business. Such watches are usually considered fancy casual watches that are good with jeans, and when you want to dress up a bit. Montblanc's Star watch collection is certainly more formal.
For the dial Montblanc chooses an extremely detailed face with lots going on. A bit three dimensional, the dial reveals more texture when seen in the right light. The hands are a nice size and the revolving Arabic numeral hour indicators are typical of the Timewalker collection. Then you have the three separate and symmetrical subdials for the various functions. Not seen very often, the date window is placed on the left side of the watch face.
Over the dial is a domed AR coated sapphire crystal that seems to disappear in some light - which is a good thing. Even will the busy dial I find that reading the time is rather simple and straight forward. So what is the calibre MB LL100 all about you ask? Let me begin to explain. In addition to the time and date the movement features a centrally mounted 60 minute chronograph, and has a subsidiary GMT dial. 2011 is really big on chronograph and GMT combinations that don't have large centrally mounted GMT hands. I have written about a number of these and two others that come to mind are Clerc and Carl F. Bucherer pieces. Of course Montblanc does it a bit differently and throws in a few neat extra features. One feature that I like is the flyback mechanism. Because the chronograph minute and hour hand are both centrally mounted, when you use the flyback feature (by pressing the RESET pusher before you stop the chronograph) both the minute and seconds chronograph hands "fly back" to the start. As two hands are doing this together you now understand where the "TwinFly" name comes from.
The GMT indicator is the upper subdial and is a welcome feature. Even with all the dial overlapping it isn't too hard to read. One unique aspect is that it starts at the bottom and not at the top ("0" hour is in the 6 o'clock position versus the 12 o'clock position). I simply love the chronograph. Centrally mounted chronographs are my new favorite complications these days. I find them much easier to read than when chronographs have separate dials for seconds and minutes. Actually they do use separate dials here, but one is just a smaller version of the other. The chronograph seconds uses the the main dial, whereas the chronograph minutes are told on a smaller central dial. Pardon me if that is confusing, but just look at the dial for a moment to understand what I mean.
Movement nerds such as myself have more things to be excited about in the MB LL100. In addition to being an automatic it has three days (72 hours) of power reserve via two barrels, and uses both a vertical clutch and column wheel for the chronograph. The vertical clutch helps it start and stop with more precision, and the column wheel is supposed to help the chronograph last longer over time. All good things because I promise you that you'll actually use the chronograph in this watch.
Montblanc really has a nice movement with the LL100 and I feel that using it in the Timewalker was a good decision. While I would not call Montblanc a sport watch brand, they do actually have some very cool, very capable sport watches that you don't hear about too much. I think that will change a bit with pieces like this Timewalker TwinFly Chronograph becoming more popular. Attached to the limited edition titanium Timewalker TwinFly Chronograph is a nice alligator strap, but the steel model is also available with a Timewalker bracelet. The watches not only live up to the Timewalker name but push the collection in a bold new direction. Price for the 300 piece limited edition model seen here is $11,820. The steel version goes from $7,660 - $7,920. Check them out where Montblanc watches are available.