Montblanc rebooted its TimeWalker range into a line of motorsport-inspired watches under the expert gaze of Davide Cerrato at SIHH 2017 this year. And now, the brand has introduced the TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph – a timepiece that combines a “panda” dial with a manufacture automatic movement - as part of its pre-SIHH 2018 releases.

The brand's Minerva manufacture turns 160 next year and Montblanc intends to celebrate with a clutch of chronograph releases. The brand has also presented a reinterpretation of its emblematic Rieussec chronograph.

“The chronograph is going to be an important pillar for us when it comes to technical content. We need to be able to show different levels of sophistication when it comes to our chronographs,” said Cerrato when asked why Montblanc went through the trouble of creating a brand new manufacture movement. The entry-level TimeWalker uses a Selita-based chronograph movement while the top-of-the-range Rally Timer uses a handfinished Minerva.

The classic panda dial layout comes to the TimeWalker

“The Timewalker line leans towards performance and racing, so having a technically superior chronograph in the mix was important. Collectors are more likely to be interested in the manufacture movement than a stock movement because while the latter is more reliable, they still want something a little more sophisticated,” said Cerrato.

The watch features a 43 mm stainless steel case with a fixed ceramic tachymeter scale bezel and semi-skeletonized lugs inspired by the air inlets of a car’s body. The motoring inspiration continues with the black DLC crown which has been knurled like a vintage car radiator cap for better gripping.  The case back is fitted with a smoked glass opening that offers views of the brand new manufacture movement.

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The dial uses the classic tricompax panda dial layout, now back in vogue thanks to the historic sale of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona. And if there’s ever been a time for panda dials to make a comeback, it is now. The dial also has a flange with a 5-minute track coated with SuperLumiNova. Time is indicated by rhodium-plated, dauphine-shaped hour and minute hands and a red chronograph second hand inspired by the Minerva arrow, a nod to Minerva’s legacy and heritage. A date window sits awkwardly at 4.30 to rob the dial of any symmetry.

Spot the column wheel chronograph mechanism

Montblanc’s manufacture calibre MB 25.10 has a traditional column wheel and horizontal coupling to control the chronograph functioning. It uses traditional finishing techniques like “Côtes de Genève”, circular graining, blue screws and uses a new monobloc oscillating weight made of black rhodium-plated tungsten designed in the shape of a steering wheel. It also has hacking seconds to ensure precise setting of time. The 4 Hz movement has a power reserve of 46 hours.

The watch is paired with either a stainless steel metal bracelet or a new vintage brown Sfumato aged calf leather strap with perforated holes. The brown Sfumato strap is handmade at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence and comes fitted with the Maison's triple folding clasp. And the best bit, the watch is priced under €5,000. Montblanc has always strived to present real value with their timepieces and they have done just that with this inhouse column wheel chronograph movement.

A reverse panda dial is used on the TimeWalker Rally Timer

Montblanc also introduced a new model in the TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100 range introduced earlier this year. Inspired by the famous Minerva Rally Timer stopwatch produced by Minerva in the 1960s and directly rooted in the spirit of racing, the Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer Chronograph Limited Edition 100 combines a a “reverse panda” dial in a titanium cased timepiece powered by the much-loved handfinished monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29. This watch is priced at $4,500.

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