Watches

How Montblanc Watches Use Storytelling to Connect with Collectors

These vintage-style Montblanc 1858 watches transport you through mountains, deserts, and even back in time.
IMAGE MONTBLANC
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What do you want to discover again? That’s what a lot of people have been thinking about during the never-ending spell of the lockdown. 

Matthieu Dupont, president of Montblanc Southeast Asia and Oceana, explores the question as he discusses the direction of the watchmaker in these strange days. In a morning Zoom call with Esquire Philippines, the executive points to the new slate of Montblanc watches from its 1858 collection. Followers of the German luxury company know about the for-outdoors line that was launched in 2016 (it had a splashy party at the Pen for its Manila launch—remember parties?). The collection looked to the legendary Minerva professional watches, as well as mountains and, well, conquering mountains for inspiration, with large dials, vintage looks, and a slew of useful functions. 

Photo by Montblanc.

That was in the good old days. No one is signaling outdoorsmanship at a cocktail party, much less climbing a mountain, right now, so how do you parse these handsome Montblanc watches in 2021? 

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Well, you still need to know the time even if days seem to melt into each other. More important, in this extended period of the doldrums, you need to dream. Montblanc nudges you to do just that by imbuing its watches with stories. In the case of three new 1858 watches, it highlights their original intent: exploration.  

“Right now, we'd like to be a bit more of an explorer,” says Dupont. “We'd like to dive again, to fly again, to walk again… so, you know, all those stories of exploration or those stories of discovery, I believe, are really there to inspire and to put a bit of positivity in our lives.”

Outside-In Stories for Collectors

With limited access to shops or hands-on interaction with watches, stories have become a big part of the company’s strategy. And while there is no question about the technical excellence of Montblanc watches—you only need to refer to the movements and complications of its watches—Dupont makes clear how it is important to make demonstrations. In other words, tell a story. 

These stories include the singular gold tone of the Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph. In the limited edition watch, the metal of kings has a “yellowy-green sheen when you look at it,” an effect that recalls well-loved things touched by human hands. This unique tone is attributed to Lime Gold, the watchmaker’s proprietary gold alloy achieved by the chemical dance gold, silver, and iron. 

Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph

Photo by Montblanc.
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Dupont files this under “outside-in thinking,” where what you see (“the absolutely stunning finishing”) conveys technicality—in this case, the achievement of that unique gold color complements technical details like the split second, telemeter, and tachymeter functions of the watch.   

Another Montblanc story spans the dunes and mountains of the Gobi Desert in Central Asia. When you flip over the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition, an engraving of the Flaming Cliffs—the fire-colored sandstone site where fossilized dinosaur eggs and velociraptors have been discovered—is found. 

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition

Photo by Montblanc.

Photo by Montblanc.
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The adornment, an homage to mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s five-week trek across the famous desert in 2004, shows the mastery of Montblanc. The case back’s titanium is engraved using a laser to express the form and then oxidized (still via laser) to achieve the colors—the burnt reds of the cliffs and the yellows of the sands. The effect translates to a photorealistic 3D engraving. 

Apart from the travels of Messner, the engraving demonstrates how Montblanc always goes one step further, perfecting a fabulous detail even if it will be hidden from view. 

Virtual Demonstrations for Enthusiasts

The storytelling boils down to whom Montblanc is speaking to: not just the average Joe who wants to know if it’s time to clock out, but the enlightened gentleman, the watch collectors who want more from their wrist candies.

For these collectors, Montblanc’s stories also solve the big problem of not being able to see, feel, smell, weigh in the hand, or try on these watches—which are important aspects of the luxury experience. 

Matthieu Dupont, Montblanc Southeast Asia and Oceana President

Photo by Montblanc.
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To amplify its narratives more effectively, Montblanc now stages virtual demonstrations for collectors. Dupont paints the experience as a private session where you’re can inspect Montblanc watches while, say, enjoying a glass of champagne and, maybe, a grazing spread, at home. “For us, the main priority is everyone's safety,” he adds.  

Hosting it in the digital world also means you have access to master watchmakers or the very people who have intimate knowledge about how that gold was spun or how these gears work together. The virtual sessions have been conducted all over the world, including Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore.  

“I was on one just last week for a collector in the region. I must say, the way it's done is very impressive. Sure, it's not exactly in front of you, but you're really able to see it very clearly…,” Dupont shares. “You're able to ask even more in-depth questions because we are able to connect people from around the world who have the best expertise.” 

Watches That Prompt Wonder

One final story that serious collectors should check out is the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100. While this is a re-edition of a Minerva military watch from the 1930s (now housed in its museum in Villeret, Switzerland), Dupont points out how the 2021 version is not a mere copy. 

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100

Photo by Montblanc.
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Montblanc travels across time, looking to the very watch that inspired the entire 1858 line, but also making sure to create a timepiece that is valid today. To do this, it weaves many stories into Origins: the use of a bronze alloy that will patina over time, the implementation of its 3D engraving for the head of Minerva on the reverse of the watch, and the addition of an officer case back that flips open (like a pocket watch) to reveal a modern M16.29 movement. 

Photo by Montblanc.

All the beautiful and technical details prove a point, too. “You know, for us, we also want to demonstrate to all the collectors and watch enthusiasts that Montblanc has a strong legitimacy in watches. That means that we go one step further, I believe, [than] what other brands would do,” says Dupont. “We always say, ‘That's not good enough. Let's go further.’”

While we can’t physically go anywhere at the moment, Dupont thinks of exploring the world again. He plans on visiting the Philippines when this version of reality has calmed down a bit. The executive had already been to Cebu, enjoyed lechon, and gone diving. “I would love to spend more time in the island so, as soon as we can, I'll be on the next plane for sure,” he says at the end of the call.

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As we all wait for the day to come, we can all have these—Montblanc watches that prompt wonder, beautiful timepieces to gaze upon while dreaming. 

Greenbelt 5. montblanc.com 

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Clifford Olanday
Editor in Chief, Esquire Philippines
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