January 12, 2015
by Kenny Yeo
Montblanc is now one of the most exciting brands under Richemont’s wide umbrella – thanks in no small part to Jerome Lambert’s leadership, the man who played a key role in making Jaeger-LeCoultre the powerhouse that it is today. And with SIHH 2015 just weeks away, the company has just released details of its latest watch, the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum.
Last year, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Montblanc’s legendary Meisterstück fountain pen (Meisterstück is German for Masterpiece), Montblanc introduced its new Meisterstück Heritage collection. This collection celebrates traditional craftsmanship, timeless designs and sophistication, and also includes the Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar (hands-on here), Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase (hands-on here) and the Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph (hands-on here). All three are extremely fine watches – the first is actually one of the most affordable mechanical perpetual calendars on the market right now, while the last is the first Montblanc model outside of its Villeret collection to feature a Minerva movement.
Joining this first-rate company of watches for 2015 is the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarrum, which features an in-house developed worldtime complication (more on this a bit later). Worldtimers are not all that uncommon, but they are notoriously tricky to get right. There is a lot of information to display, and if one is not careful, the dial can easily get too busy to be easily legible. However, some brands have done it right and Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time is one of the best examples of a well-designed worldtimer. Other watches worthy of mention include Baume & Mercier’s Capeland Worldtimer and Girard-Perregaux’s Traveller WW.TC And Moon Phase, which even has chronograph functions to boot.
The Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum comes in a 41mm case – available in 18k red gold and stainless steel – with polished bezel and horizontal satin finishing on the sides. The lugs, which curve quite steeply, have the same treatment. Case thickness is around 12mm, which is a little on the thick side, but entirely acceptable, since the movement was not developed from scratch.
What I really love about the watch, however, is the multi-layered dial, which is also highly legible despite the amount of information it has to display. In the center of the dial is a piece of sapphire crystal that displays the continents when viewed from the North Pole. The continents are actually cut out from the dial, whereas the oceans are in a light blue color. Under this is a disc that displays the day and night, as well as 24 timezones, and which is driven by the movement. The dauphine style hands are rhodium-plated, polished, and satinated.
Setting the time is easy. The desired home city needs to be positioned at 6 o’clock, and this can be done by using the pusher at 8 o’clock. Afterwards, the wearer only needs to adjust the local hours and minutes using the crown. The hour and minutes, which are always linked with the day and night indicator and 24 time zones, will now show the correct local time and time of all 24 timezones. And when traveling to a new timezone, the wearer only needs to use the pusher to ensure that the new city that he or she is in is once again positioned at the 6 o’clock position. Everything else will automatically adjust itself and remain synchronized.
All of this is made possible by the self-winding calibre MB29.20. Earlier, I mentioned that the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Obris Terrarium has an in-house developed worldtime complication, and I say this because the base of the movement comes from Sellita, with the worldtime function being added using a module. The module, however, is developed completely by Montblanc, and from what we have heard, is not just a simple sandwich job. Rather, the complication is integrated into the movement, which could also explain why the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum is just 12mm and not thicker, as some of the other watches with modular complications are. The MB29.20 beats at 4Hz and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
I have always loved worldtimers for their practicality, and I could not be any more excited about this watch. The size and the looks are bang on and close to perfect, and the dial has so much detail and looks just exquisite. My only complaint so far is that the pusher at 8 o’clock is much too conspicuous than what I would have liked it to be, but that is about it. I can’t wait to see this in the flesh.
And, like the Meisterstück Perpetual Calendar before it, this new Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum is also very attractively priced. In red gold, the watch will retail for around $17,000 (€13,900); and in stainless steel, the price is a very tempting $6,100 (€4,990). montblanc.com