From time to time, when I return to the Montblanc Timewalker in an article, I mentally go back to when first I learned about this watch collection years ago. That was back in 2004, when Montblanc initially debuted the collection. That means that 2014 is the 10th anniversary of their modern yet classic looking Timewalker watch collection. While Montblanc has experimented with a large range of styles for the Timewalker, given the collection’s relative success, for me, the Montblanc Timewalker is most at home when it is a chronograph.
The first Montblanc Timewalker that I loved came in a polished steel case with a tri-compax style chronograph layout and matching silver-colored dial. It was attached to a thick brown alligator strap and I just loved how metropolitan and somewhat Art Deco it was. Priced at around $4,000, it was more than I could afford, but it was nevertheless on the list. I never actually got around to getting a Timewalker, but I still think about it. Perhaps I am waiting for a new model to come around and wow me more than the first – Montblanc does seem to offer a few new ones each year.
The 2014 Timewalkers are the Timewalker Chronograph 100 and this Montblanc Timewalker Extreme ref. 111197. Once again, we see Montblanc experimenting with a DLC coating on the Timewalker case. At 43mm wide and shaped a bit like a bowl, the Timewalker case is full of interesting details and is flattering on the wrist. Montblanc is not alone in wanting to take a successful case design and offer it in black. This Montblanc Timewalker Extreme is by no means the first time they’ve done so, but this particular version was offered in a matte, versus polished, black finish. The DLC coating is very hard and highly scratch resistant.
While I quite like black watches (that are nevertheless legible), they are for a very specific type of customer. The issue is that black coatings, especially matte black coatings create a subdued and stealthy appearance. It not only makes the watch itself stands out less (in some contexts), but the details of the case itself are much more difficult to see when compared to polished steel (for example) finishes. Matte black is also particularly good at absorbing light, so the lack of reflectivity can erode a “high-end look” that many people crave in a luxury watch.
Not that coming across as wearing a luxury watch matters to everyone who wears a luxury watch, but this is a Montblanc. Many people buy Montblanc products because of the name, perception of German quality (even though the watches are Swiss Made), and the aura of a sophisticated business lifestyle. I will say that the bright white Montblanc star is highly visible on the crown – which is cool, but for a luxury watch from a name brand, the piece is ironically understated in its ability to convey a sense of “is that a Montblanc on your wrist?” Then again, if you are the type of guy who wears Montblanc with your biker jackets or evening active wear, then the Montblanc Timewalker Extreme is perhaps an excellent idea.
The good thing about matte versus polished black DLC is that it doesn’t pick up nearly as many fingerprints and it does have a “cool guy” look to it, whereas polished black watches aren’t always the preferred masculine choice, despite being a bit more showy. Montblanc even compliments the Montblanc Timewalker Extreme watch with a high-grade leather/rubber strap that it uses in some other products. The strap also has a matte finish and a sort of textile pattern on the surface.