PHOTO REPORT: Montblanc at SIHH 2014 by HOWARD PARR
Montblanc is a luxury goods company based in Hamburg, Germany with a rich history most notably in pens and leather goods. In 2006, the young Montblanc watch company made a serious statement to the industry when the Richemont Group purchased heralded watchmaker Minerva and they became the supplier of exclusive movements to Montblanc. Minerva was founded in 1858 in Villeret, and it was the topic of much discussion at SIHH.

Under the direction of recently appointed CEO Jerome Lambert–who previously served as CEO of Richemont’s A. Lange & Sohne and Jaeger-LeCoultre–the presentation of Montblanc watchmaking was notably different this year. Last year’s booth was compartmentalized, and dark enough to make picture-taking a real challenge. This year, the booth was open, with watchmaking history front and center.

As Mssr. Lambert passed through the booth, we exchanged a few words, and there was that familiar energy that he had brought to the other brands. And a long line of journalists waiting to speak with him about the intrigue encircling the brand

The highlight of this year’s collection from Montblanc was the Meisterstück Heritage Collection, which features one of the most talked about pieces at the show, the Heritage Pulsograph.

A 41mm manually-wound monopusher chronograph with a radiant dial

In celebration of the 90 years since the pen and movement were first introduced, there are 90 pieces in this Limited Edition

The Meisterstück collection ranges from $2000 to $38,000. This rose gold Pulsograph is $34,500

The Meisterstück series is the formal celebration of the Meisterstück Montblanc fountain pen 149, which debuted in 1924,
and the renowned Minerva caliber 13.20–which was first encased in 1923–and used in the caliber 13.21 here in the Pulsograph

Until now, Montblanc owned Minerva. With this piece, the two companies make the statement that they are one.
“Minerva Villeret” to denote high-end watchmaking, this is not your pen company’s watch

It should also be noted that a variant of this caliber (13.22) was deployed in another high impact range at this year’s show, the Panerai 1940 Radiomir Limited Edition Chronographs. Minerva has history with Panerai going back to the 1920s, but that relationship has been dormant in the minds of collectors. Until this year, when no one at the show mentioned the Panerai chronographs without an emphasis on the Minerva caliber, and the subliminal tie-in with the Montblanc Pulsograph was inescapable. Credit Mssr Lambert and the folks at Montblanc, who brought their A-game to Geneva.

Another hit in the Meisterstück line is the Perpetual Calendar, which frankly brought a lot of head shaking.
As in “how did they do it?”

An automatic powered by the MB Caliber 29.15, this 39mm perpetual is…get this…

$12,800 in stainless steel
$21,600 in pink gold

In addition to a Moonphase piece, the line also includes the classic Heritage Date Automatic

The Timewalker Collection celebrates its 10th anniversary, and is showcased this year with the Extreme Chronograph DLC

Featuring the Calibre MB 4810/507 housed in a 43mm DLC-treated case, with a most innovative strap construction that conjoins leather and rubber, and is both waterproof and abrasion-resistant

Time was unfortunately limited, so I couldn’t photograph all of the brand’s new offerings, but you can read more about them here

Thank you to Paula and to the folks at Montblanc for everything!

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Reinhard Meis & the Montblanc ExoTourbillon Rattrapante

The Villeret ExoTourbillon Rattrapante represents the finest in haut de gamme watchmaking. It’s contemporary, sophisticated and has a masterful movement that is superbly constructed with numerous technical details.

At first, I could not help but wonder how Montblanc achieved such a precise balance of beauty and technology. Then, when I discovered that Reinhard Meis invented the ExoTourbillon’s rattrapante chronograph for Montblanc, it all made sense.

Reinhard Meis is a master watchmaker and movement constructor. He’s also no stranger to excellence. Throughout the 1990s and early-2000s, Meis was the spiritus rector of A. Lange & Söhne. As the Head of Development, his work is represented in the Datograph, Lange 1, Langematik, Saxonia, 1815 and Pour le Merite. Meis is also a watch collector and author of six horology reference books. After Richemont acquired Fabrique D’Horlogerie Minerva SA in 2006, Meis moved to Montblanc, where he’s responsible for many of the speciality models and high complications.

Meis invented the ExoTourbillon’s clever split-second chronograph function (Patent No. EP 2211243 A2). Despite its mechanical complexity, this split-second function can work with the same barrel and the same power reserve as those of the basic chronograph movement and can do so with greater precision. The reason is because the movement has two column-wheels, one for the chronograph and one for the rattrapante function. Since the movement was invented for the ExoTourbillon, undoubtedly Reinhard Meis also had an important influence in the dial design and its overall balance and symmetry.


The superbly constructed & finished manufacture Calibre MB M16.61


The ExoTourbillon’s patented split-second chronograph function invented by Reinhard Meis


The ExoTourbillon’s patented dial design


The Villeret ExoTourbillon Rattrapante achieves the perfect balance of beauty & technology

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Viva México: the 2012 SIAR Watch Fair

Howard Parr

7 October 2012

Earlier this week, I went to the SIAR (Salon Internacional Alta Relojeria) in Mexico City. This was the 6th Edition of the watch fair, and included the most exhibitors yet…44 brands!

Most of the brands had scheduled presentations throughout the show, and I was asked to moderate the presentation from Audemars Piguet. Company board member (and founding family descendant) Olivier Audemars came from Switzerland along with Chief Artistic Director (a/k/a head of AP’s watch and branding design) Octavio Garcia. Rather than give a talk, they preferred a more relaxed and informal open interview, as it were, so I was asked to facilitate this. More on the presentation can be found on the AP forum HERE

First off, let me just say that anyone who can attend the SIAR Watch Fair really ought to go. The intimate Salon is held on two floors of the Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City. Stay there, enjoy the overwhelming hospitality of the staff, and some of the world’s finest watch browsing is literally an elevator ride from your room.


The brand executives at the opening of the Salon

I made a point of visiting every manufacturer several times, and they were universally jubilant about the SIAR, with one brand exec going so far as to say it is one of his favorite watch fairs in the world. Why? “Because every request in terms of our setup is accommodated. And because the public is so knowledgeable and engaged.”

*And it should be noted that all entrance fees for the fair are donated to the Red Cross.

Some brands shared suites, others created a virtual brand boutique on their own. Two entire floors of the hotel were transformed into one very intimate setting. Want to speak with Richard Mille? Right through that door. Mssr. DeWitt himself? Why not? Olivier Audemars? He’s here too. The worldwide head of Marketing for Jaeger-LeCoultre? For Vacheron Constantin? For MB&F? Yes, yes, and yes…all were in attendance. And all primed for a conversation.

And with the extraordinary history and culture of Mexico City surrounding you, a full week’s visit is a must!

The press came from all over Latin America, and were nothing short of voracious in their approach to the many interviews conducted throughout the week. Numerous interviews a day with the various brands, and you couldn’t tell the writer from the WIS, because whether from Vogue, Esquire or a watch-specific magazine, they were first and foremost passionate about watches.

I had the wonderful opportunity to dine with quite a few of the press, and none appeared to be there for a job. Sure, they were working. All day, every day. But what came through most is that they were simply head over heels for watches.

In fact, after dinner I watched as six journalists had their 40th Anniversary Royal Oak books autographed by AP’s lead designer Octavio Garcia, who sketched a Royal Oak in each of their books. Octavio’s parents hailed from Mexico, so he was welcomed at the fair as a star returning home.

Throughout the week, the SIAR Watch Fair showed why it is such a powerful fair, and why Latin America has become so important to the many brands in attendance. First and foremost, watches sell BIG in Latin America. And big watches–and we’re talking perpetuals and Grande Complications–sell BIG in Latin America. From Mexico to Argentina, and all countries in between, watches are extremely popular.

Second–and this is why you ought to think about attending next year–the SIAR shined specifically because of what was missing from the week. It took me a couple of days to figure out what it was.

There was absolutely no sign of “been there, done that” jadedness that is an almost guaranteed foe if you’re in this hobby long enough. At some point, something is bound to trip you up. A brand is too fashion-y, you hit a blip in service, fancy events and ambassadors leave you wary of the value of the watches, too few independent brands, they’re only in it for the money, watches are too big and gaudy, and so on.

These truths aren’t universal. Hell, they aren’t even truths. But they live like truths for us. Potentially insurmountable walls, when suddenly the purity of our endeavor is gone, watches are no longer the person we married, and we fight cynicism with everything we’ve got. We change brands, we buy a new watch, we take a break…whatever we can muster to try and regain the love for the tic-toc we so deeply fell in love with years earlier. Just what can we do when we become resigned with all of this?

2013, you go to Mexico. That’s what you do. Because if you want to be fully immersed in everything you fell in love with over watches, the SIAR Salon is for you.


The Courtyard (image by Four Seasons, Mexico D.F.)

Collectors and watch enthusiasts came from all over Latin America to enjoy this intimate experience. They were curious, almost anxiously so. They couldn’t get enough of the watches and the conversation about them.

More good news for the future: if you’re one who fears the cell phone will kill any chance of the next generation wearing watches, the SIAR is for you. Many children came to the Fair, sporting a vintage Tag or Omega, or standing eye-level with the watchmaker’s bench as they were shown the inner workings of a Minute Repeater

…or a loupe view of a skeleton.

There were young company execs looking for the next tourbillon, others attending a Master watchmaking class from Jaeger-LeCoultre, and many of them women.

If anything was clear this past week, it was that service and family come first in Mexico. And that was the prevailing feeling at the SIAR. You weren’t coming to a watch fair. You were attending a family reunion, and the theme was watches.

So, let’s get to them.

Despite having taken well over 1000 watch images of every brand present, some of the suites were just too problematic for pictures. So I’ve spared the glare, and dumped those too harsh to post.

That said, here you are…

AP’s suite re-created the theme of its 40th Anniversary Royal Oak Exhibition, which makes the final stop of its world tour this week in Singapore.

And an original Royal Oak from the AP Museum

Cartier

Vacheron Constantin

Montblanc

MB&F

De Bethune

A. Lange & Sohne

Urwerk

Richard Mille

Franc Vila

Jaeger-LeCoultre

LUNCH TIME!

Hop in the sponsor’s car…

Or maybe just take the elevator downstairs for some fresh tacos…

Will you look what time it is?!

Back to it…

Concord

Dewitt

Piaget

Zenith

One of my favorites from the show. A new ladies, cushion watch from Zenith. Diamonds so elegantly tucked into the corners of the case only.

Hublot

Girard-Perregaux

I visited with Mike Margolis for quite a while. Thanks for opening the cases, Mike. It’s trouble trying to shoot all of these pieces from outside the glass.

Beautifully adorning Mr. Margolis’s wrist…

And so it is written…

Mexico and the 2013 Salon Internacional Alta Relojeria…VAMOS!!!

Congratulations to AP on their award for the 40th Anniversary Royal Oak.

And thank you for including me this week at the amazing SIAR Watch Fair.

Hope you all enjoyed the Fair!

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