In the world of luxury watch brands, having an impressive heritage is par for the course. But even by the high standards of haute horology, Montblanc still manages to stand out from the crowd. This year, the brand celebrates the 160th anniversary of its renowned in-house manufacture, Minerva, along with 20 years of the Star Legacy Collection. To celebrate, Montblanc has released two new chronograph models, inspired by Minerva’s extraordinary heritage: the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph and the Star Legacy Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph.
The Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph is a modern re-interpration of a classic design – one that truly pays tribute to Minerva’s legacy of meticulously created chronographs with every single detail. Powered by an automatic movement, the Calibre MB 25.02, the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph is aesthetically flawless: sleek Arabic numerals offer a nod to the classic Minerva pocket watches and are encircled by a railway minute track, with blue leaf-shaped hands, a minimalist white dial and filet sauté guilloché lines that capture the light beautifully and emphasise the classic Montblanc emblem. If you look closely, the railway minute track is marked in dots rather than lines, which is an unusual design feature, and the subtle curve of the glass is also reminiscent of the vintage Minerva pocket watches.
The intricate details of the timepiece are complemented perfectly by a handsome sfumato blue alligator strap. The sfumato effect is based on a painting technique inspired by the great masters of the Renaissance, who layered their paints to create the subtle transitions between each colour and tone. The strap itself was created in the Montblanc pelletteria in Florence, where all of the maison’s quality leather goods are painstakingly handcrafted by skilled artisans using centuries-old techniques.
Then there’s the Star Legacy Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph, another re-imagining of a timeless design. The timepiece takes its name from a man called Nicolas Rieussec, a French watchmaker who, in 1821, pioneered the first inking chronographs, a fascinating creation that recorded elapsed time using actual ink. This modern reinterpretation of the design mimics Rieussec’s system and updates the aesthetics of the classic watch for the modern customer. The influence of Rieussec’s original inking chronograph can be seen in the two rotating vertically-aligned discs on the dial that serve as 60-second and 30-minute counters that turn below a blued fixed double index.
The silvery-white dial is beautifully offset by the blue sfumato leather strap (a classic Montblanc design feature, also employed to great effect on the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph), blue, leaf-shaped hands and silver chronograph discs, while the off-centre hour circle and domed titanium turning discs create a visually interesting three-dimensional effect. The extra hand in the main time display can be set to a second time zone, making this the perfect sleek accessory for the discerning jet setter. The winding rota is skeletonised, so you can see the in-house caliber MB R200 that powers the watch at work. Meanwhile, the black Arabic numerals are slimmer and sleeker than in earlier designs, surrounded by a railway minute track, and a date display at 6 o’clock adds a final, finishing touch. Like the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph, the Rieussec-inspired watch also boasts the same fashionable sfumato blue alligator strap, created by Montblanc’s master craftsmen in Florence.