During the SIHH 2010 trade exhibition -an industry event that is limited to elite members of the industry-, a brand that only a few years ago was primarily known for their luxury writing instruments, but quickly ascended to the top ranks of local watchmakers- has introduced its new vintage-style Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 Vintage Chronographe (ref. 106167) mono-pusher. Featuring an exterior that was inspired by chronographs from the early 20th century, the chronograph is powered by a great hand-wound caliber and is limited to less than 120 numbered pieces.
Like several recently introduced vintage-style chronographs, the 2010 Montblanc Vintage Chronographe is powered by an archaic-looking but nevertheless pretty modern movement. In this particular case, it is the Minerva Kaliber 16-29 manual-wind chronograph movement that we have already seen on the highly exclusive Collection Villeret 1858 Grand Chronographe Authentique limited-edition mono-pusher unveiled back in 2008.
Like the preceding model, the Vintage Chronographe sports only one 30-minute totalizer at 3 o’clock, which is visually balanced with a small second hand located at 9 o’clock.
Its dial with a spiral tachymetric scale, as well as the characteristically shaped winding crown combined with a single chronograph push-piece also reminds us about the years when chronographs were at the peak of their success, serving both as pieces of luxury and as real time-measuring devices.
What is interesting about this model is that the tachymetric scale was removed from its traditional place at the periphery of the dial, transferred to the central position and replaced by the telemeter scale. The latter is used to measure not the speed of but distance to the particular object or an event. For example, when trying to understand how far is a thunderstorm from your house, you can push the button after seeing a flash and then push it again when you hear the sound of thunder. The result will be accurate to a point of 0.1 km.
Of course, all these features make the dial look a trifle busy and the fact that the spiral tachymetric scale intersects the areas reserved for the chronograph and small second subdials don’t help much in reducing the clutter. On the other hand, that’s how a vintage-styled is supposed to look like, so I don’t see a serious problem here: those interested in legibility should probably look for a pilot’s watch.
Well, this Collection Villeret 1858 Vintage Chronographe is still one of the best new models that the Swiss brand can offer for this year.
Somewhat regretfully, the total production run will be limited at just 118 pieces that are promised to be evenly split between the red gold and white gold versions.
Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 Vintage Chronographe (ref. 106167) specification
Price range: $39,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Minerva Kaliber 16-29, hand-wound, 18,000 vph, 6.3 mm thick, 38.4 mm in diameter, Swiss Made
Complications: Chronograph, telemeter scale, 3-minute tachymeter
Power reserve: 55 hours
Case: 18-karat rose gold or white gold
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Size: 43.50 mm
Dial: White grand feu enamel
Numerals: Arabic, painted
Hands: Blue, polished, leaf-shaped
Strap: Brown leather with pin buckle in gold (matching color of the case)
Crystal: Sapphire, AR-coated
Water resistance: 30 meters