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Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Last year in 2017 when the relaunched Timewalker collection by Montblanc was debuted, I couldn’t help but feel that while I appreciated the new watches, the particular piece for my tastes had yet to be released. Just one year later, Montblanc has debuted a new version of the updated Timewalker that is much more aligned with my own demands as a discriminating watch consumer. It’s called the Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph, and it features a slick new in-house automatic chronograph movement, attractively classic sport watch looks, and a hip cuff-style (“bund”) strap option.

Montblanc’s head of product Davide Cerrato greets me with his typically wide smile and cheerily enthusiastic Italian accent at SIHH 2018 where the Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph was debuted. Cerrato is a brand unto himself at this point because guys like me are able to identify hallmarks of his particular taste in many of the watches he is responsible for producing. If there is anything in the world Davide loves, it is the world of vintage racing and his love is having a dramatic impact on the design direction of the Hamburg-Based German brand.

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The watches however are rather Swiss, and by that I mean made in Switzerland with Italian design. Outside of exotic high-end models not suited for mainstream public consumption like the Timewalker Rally Timer, the Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph seems to be Davide’s proudest achievement yet at the brand. While the watches contain the new Montblanc caliber MB 25.10 automatic movement, what I think people are excited about most is the “tri-counter” layout of the sub-dials that is also often referred to as a “tri-compax” layout. Unlike last year’s Timewalker Chronograph with its eccentric sub-dial layout (thanks to the design of the Valjoux 7750), the Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph has a neatly symmetrical dial that lends itself well to an elegant sport watch look.

I’ll be honest that I resent this collection having the Timewalker name. No offense to the watches which I tend to like, but it’s difficult as someone who continues to fondly think about the last generation of Timewalker watches that were masculine, modern, urban-dweller products. How Montblanc goes from that to a vintage racing watch-style product feels like too much of a stretch for me. Maybe Montblanc should do what they want and just put the Minerva name on the dial. To remind you, Montblanc was the beneficiary of the historic Minerva factory when the Richemont Group bought it out.

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

This particular pre-production prototype watch had an issue with the date disc – which of course will not be the case in the final retail models.

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc has been benefiting from the Villeret-based manufacture as a place to produce its exotic high-complication watches as well as elegantly hand-finished Minerva caliber chronographs. The Minerva brand was not however a company that specialized in super high-end watches – just the opposite. Minerva was always about good value for the money – and for at least some years… making chronographs for auto racing. If Montblanc wants to get serious with vintage-style racing watches, then why not take it all the way and just put the Minerva name on the dial and make it a sub-brand? Just something to think about… Or maybe this is just me really wanting Montblanc to succeed with these racing-style watches, while also preserving the type of product that the Timewalker used to be.

Just one version with a few strap/bracelet options of Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph was released for 2018. Cerrato wanted to really emphasize his intent to feature the “panda dial” look with an off-white face and black-colored sub-dials. One of the neatest details in the watch is the subtle integration of the Montblanc logo inside of the left-most chronograph sub-dial. Speaking of the sub-dials they are very “era-appropriate,” utilizing contrasting hands and effective textures for legibility. Here is when purists will cry out for the date window to be removed – but remember that in mainstream consumer outlets, watches with the date tend to sell a little bit better. Sorry fellow nerds, not all watches are made with our tastes in mind.

At 43mm wide in mostly steel on the wrist, the Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph continues to be masculine but not overly large. I will say that the Manufacture Chronograph seems to be among the thicker of the Timewalker models (at 15.2mm thick). But then again, I did mostly wear it on the bund-style strap. The case is also water-resistant to 100m and has a slightly domed, AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial.

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For this model Montblanc decided to use a fixed bezel – once again a monobloc piece of black ceramic – with an emblematic tachymeter scale on the bezel surface. With the matching black crown, the overall two-tone steel and black look of the Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph is eye-catching and effortlessly bold. Other nice details on the case and dial such as the style of the hour markers and the semi-skeletonized lugs are throwbacks to the previous generation Timewalker models (even though Montblanc’s press materials erroneously link these design features with some nonsense related to car racing).

Powering the Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph is the Montblanc caliber MB 25.10. This new chronograph appears to be built like a tank, albeit one with pretty decoration. It’s a rather massive 7.9mm thick, part of which is the automatic rotor that is made from a solid piece of tungsten (and happens to be shaped like a vintage race car steering wheel). The movement doesn’t stand out in any particular way from a feature or performance standpoint, but it also doesn’t seem to have many drawbacks either. With 46 hours of power reserve and 4Hz operating frequency, the movement also has a stop seconds feature which is handy. The 12-hour chronograph is column wheel controlled, and has a horizontal clutch system. With that said, Montblanc isn’t charging vast amounts of money for these watches and the presence of the in-house movement is nice. If you think about it and take the price of the watch into consideration, then you quickly realize that Montblanc most definitely has product families such as the TAG Heuer Carrera or Autavia in their crosshairs. Of course, the MB 25.10 automatic movement can be seen through a sapphire crystal (in this case made to have a smoked-tone for a darker visual experience).

Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Normally I am a bracelet guy, but I can’t say no to Montblanc’s black leather bund-style strap that is available for the Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph. Other options include a steel metal bracelet or a really attractive brown leather strap produced by Montblanc in Italy. Having said that, the black leather cuff strap is more interesting and at the same time really helps Mr. Cerrato feel as though he has effectively pulled all he desires from the vintage racing watch genre.

What’s in it for consumers? Well the most important thing is the reasonably fair price of the Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph. It also happens to be the rare case of an enthusiast product that is also intended for the mainstream (which was a strategy Mr. Cerrato helped employ while at his previous job at Tudor). While I am not always sure how new collectors will respond to products such as this, I do know that if Montblanc markets this product well, it could have the mainstream appeal that it deserves. Price for the Montblanc Timewalker Manufacture Chronograph reference 118488 on the brown leather strap is $5,400 USD. The reference 118489 (on the steel bracelet) and the 118490 (on the black leather cuff strap) are each $5,700 USD.

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  • Tigran Khachatryan

    Is it only me, who thinks Montblanc watches are boring?

    • ProJ

      Nope, you’re not alone.. me too

  • Tea Hound


    • ProJ

      Or make the window round like B&R

      • Tea Hound

        That’d do…

  • Joe

    Whilst I’m impressed by how quickly Montblanc are iterating to try to define their DNA, the Timewalker series isn’t doing it for me.
    They seem to be a strange mix of dated-modern and slightly vintage but with neither foot firmly in one camp nor the other.
    I also think steering-wheel/prop/boat-wheel rotors might be quite polarising unless you’re a fan of the pursuit after which it’s designed.
    Why not come up with an “M”-shaped rotor for Montblanc or Minerva or use their Montblanc star emblem as a rotor design?
    It’s also quite distracting to see the date wheel stuck between 2 dates in the photos. I’m surprised companies “allow” obvious imperfections for articles that might make or break sales of their watch.

    It’s a pass for me (although I do like their other watches such as the 1858 chrono).

    • Greg Williams

      I have a similar feeling about Montblanc. I appreciate that they are moving in the right direction price-wise, $5k for an in-house movement is relatively inexpensive, whatever your opinion of in-house movement is, but the Timewalker series in particular does not do it for me. Some of the other families do impress me, I think you could do a lot worse in the price range.

  • Good Gene 42K18

    Ariel, DO NOT buy this prototype like you would a Nubeo or like you did that recently featured Fortis. Those 2:51pm date changes are a b*tch!

    Is the bund real alligator?

  • I like it and as noted in the post, I also see this as a competitor to some TAG watches. A vertical clutch would have been nice (I like to time airline flights) as they tend not to eat up the power reserve and have less wear than the typical horizontal clutch. A tachymeter scale is expected with an auto racing oriented watch, but a 12 hour rotating bezel would have been nice. Even better would be replaceable bezels. While not cheap, the price is in line with its competition. Oddly, I sort of like the bund strap – most are hideous but this one more or less works.

  • “Cerrato is a brand unto himself at this point because guys like me are
    able to identify hallmarks of his particular taste in many of the
    watches he is responsible for producing”

    So he is responsible for the TAG Formula 1? And the Longines Admiral? Montblanc has had some excellent designs as of late; this isn’t one of them. The lack of a 12 o’clock marker puts too much empty space into the top field – it looks as if the marker fell off.

    Also, can we get a poll going on Bund straps? Like maybe a scale of 1-10 from “Ridiculously outdated and hideous” to “Only kind of outdated and hideous”?

  • IG

    Wow, Bund strap with hole for the display back? Holy Batman

  • 24810

    It’s about as ‘Manufacture’ as an ETA in a Tissot.

  • Omegaboy

    Bund ba dum pum dumb!


    Well that date while I am no date police fits so poorly it just hurts. Discreetly positioned at 6 would have gone a long way. However to me this watch looks like a beafed up Tissot. For the same price I would take the Autavia

  • PR

    This looks like it’s trying to keep the so called Timewalker dna a bit too hard. I would’ve dropped the whole line in favor of a fresh start.

    What is the point of this “in house” movement? In their favor it’s higher dependency on them to charge for expensive service and repairs and statements like “reasonable pricing”. A new Longines column wheel chrono with arguably better decoration rings in around 3k which is more in line with direct competition to MB with IWC sitting above.

    Breitling and Tudor seem to be the only two who appear to have thought it through a bit more than waving a flag wearing green tinted glasses

  • Jerry Davis

    Love everything about this.

  • IanE

    The 4 o’clock marker looks very oddly placed – but that will presumably be sorted in production models: horrible date window; tiny movement. Oh well, same old, same old.

  • awildermode

    I am digging these fancy names, like “Timewalker”. Watch looks good, too.

  • SuperStrapper

    Truly horrible bund strap. Seriously bad. Luckily that is easily remedied but if that is genuine gator it was a waste of material.
    Why is the date rolling over at 3? Not good.

    The watch itself is not bad. I’ve never had much bad to say about the timewalker line-up over the years and advancing the movements within is a great next step.

  • Middle

    i’ll never be cool enough to sport a bund strap and not look like a doofus.

    • Mr. Snrub

      With slacks or a polo, yeah, you will. Would go great with black boots, jeans and a quality bomber jacket though.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    The date is stuck between 1 and 2 at almost 3 o`clock? I like Montblancs fountain pens.

  • egznyc

    The dial looks okay (at least once they fix this date issue – but still a bad location IMO). I prefer the 3-6-9 to the 6-9-12 layout, too, but damn, this dial just doesn’t have the same high-end look as the recently reviewed Fortis chrono – which was also much more reasonably priced. I’m not going to spend an extra $3+ K for “in house,” either.

  • Framlucasse

    The date is 1 1/2? Interesting.

  • Matthew Rowe

    I’m failing to see how this separates itself from all the other tri compax chronograph out there. If you go in house, how about a long power reserve, fly back, or unique layout? And another afterthought date window… Yawn

  • Philip Beresford

    Its an attractive enough watch (if not a couple of mm larger than I would ideally like), but whats the point of this inhouse movement if it offers no improvement over a 7750? Sure it has a column wheel, but so do the similarly priced Longines that use a modified 7750. If an inhouse movement is no better than an ETA, I’d rather the ETA so that I can always get it serviced. If you go to the effort of designing an inhouse movement, give me a longer power reserve, silicon springs, vertical clutch, and/or flyback functionality.

  • Pete L

    I am sure it is a quality piece of kit but for some reason to me it looks a little cheap. The stark contrast dial/sub dials/bezel may be responsible (the white is too white?) and the bund strap certainly doesn’t help but not for me. The snailed logo on the hours sub-dial is a nice touch but could even have been the signature white to add a touch of something different.

    • George Yang

      The relaunched TimeWalkers under the watch of Davide Cerrato all have that look (in pictures at least). In person they are pretty alright. I think they did too big of an abrupt change when they moved the TimeWalker line downstream in pricing.

  • Richard Baptist

    I’m sorry this is a miss for me. I find the watch plain and boring. For that price get the Heur reissue of the autavia or two longines Big Eye Chronographs.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I am ever so dissapointed. Mont Blanc have some fine looking watches, the

  • Ulysses31

    The flat, boring angular lines and sharp-edges look cheap to me, sorry. I’ve never really like Montblanc because so many of their watches have that feel.

  • TheChuphta

    Please reference that the date window doesn’t / isn’t/ can’t be bothered to/ work in the garbage prototype that they gave you. Why are we pretending that this whore doesn’t have pox?

  • Dan Finch

    I like it! But agree with the writer about the confusion in calling this a time walker! The outgoing Time Walker was a very different animal with a well-established history. And It’s not like that one needed a completely different look, since it was damn near perfect. At least call it the Time Walker Rally. The two watches could easily co-exist… most puzzling indeed!

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