August 10, 2014
by Ariel Adams
I have high hopes for the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage collection of watches that came out this year at SIHH 2014. We’ve discussed it before, and today we’d like to look at the elegant looking Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase watch model. This simple timepiece has the time, lacks a seconds indicator, and has a subsidiary dial with the date and a moon phase indicator. In a sense, this is a scaled down triple calendar watch, as it lacks windows indicating the the month and day of the week.
The more simplistic dial of a moonphase/date watch offers increased amounts of visual elegance, which is a fitting thing for a dress watch. When I saw the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase watch for the first time, I was quite taken with it. I found that the combination of elements such as the clean dial, dauphine hands, and attractive case all came together very well. In person, the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase is really rather striking.
I’ve long since been a fan of Montblanc timepieces, and in the world of watches that are associated with larger brand names, Montblanc is still unique. Owned by Richemont, they have become a sort of analog to Cartier (also owned by Richemont) in that as a company, they are highly diversified in their products. Not only does Montblanc offer items from pens to fragrances, their watch collection is equally diversified. You can spend from about $1,000 to almost a million dollars on a Montblanc branded timepiece. The company even has multiple manufacturing locations, and different levels of in-house made movements. For example, you can get “good” in-house made Montblanc movements produced at their manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland, or opt for something much more exclusive and high-end, produced at their Montblanc Villeret facility that used to be the watch brand Minerva.
On a more entry-level basis, many Montblanc watches contain base Swiss ETA or similar movements, sometimes with modules on top of them to offer additional functionality. That is the case with this Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Moonphase, which uses a base Swiss movement with a module for the moonphase and calendar functions. They refer to the movement as the caliber MB 29.14, and it is an automatic with a 4Hz movement that is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback (my apologies for not getting a rear picture of the watch).
Montblanc’s Meisterstück Heritage collection is all about honoring the German brand’s famed Meisterstück pen collection that debuted in 1924. Montblanc is comfortable with the fact that they are now more a watch company than writing instrument company, but it would be silly not to connect to two worlds; especially because so many consumers still associate Montblanc as being primarily a pen maker. Nevertheless, the brand has struggled in the eyes of many consumers who look at their prices and are asked to select between them and more “traditional” watch makers. Brands such as Montblanc often fare better with those who know less about watches, but are still keen on purchasing objects of a high quality and are “brand conscious.”
That is an interesting dilemma, but one that Montblanc’s new CEO Jerome Lambert is going to resolve over the next few years, in my opinion. Coming from a long station at Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lambert knows how to leverage a brand’s manufacturing strength into its overall personality. Montblanc has some amazing history and some very strong abilities to produce items in house. It will just be a marketing and product development challenge to get all the details and direction right. Lambert is a good choice for this task.