inside Montblanc’s Minerva watch factory 

inside Montblanc’s Minerva watch factory 

The Montblanc team’s insight was to take on the Minerva heritage as something alive rather than as a museum curiosity; to use it to inform the contemporary business, not to restrict it. Minerva’s specialism was chronographs – and that is fine with Cerrato: “Chronographs are still one of the most in-demand complications. [Minerva has] played a part in many of the technical developments over the years and so we should focus on chronographs today. But, just like in the past, there needs to be a range of qualities, which is why we offer these collections at different levels.”

Cerrato believes that taking heritage as a starting point doesn’t need to restrict designers – what makes Montblanc’s Heritage Collection so interesting is that the period details are put together in fresh combinations.

Take this year’s Heritage Pulsograph with its salmon-pink dial (£24,900), for example. All the detail comes from the mid-century originals, but with surprising touches such as the pale-blue pulse-counter scale and the all-round crispness of the indices. And it’s the same story inside. The Calibre 13.20 is a 90-year-old design that has been updated and refined over the years and finished to levels you would hope for.

It is expensive to produce and has a high price to match, which is why Montblanc also offers the likes of the Heritage Perpetual Calendar, which has the same style with a much more accessible, albeit in-house, movement to keep the price at £13,200, or the ETA-based Heritage GMT, which has a starting price of £2,395. Cerrato says that, in product design, you create an icon by revisiting the details, by always looking to improve things.

“You make these little changes – sometimes technical sometimes aesthetical – all the time,” he says. “It’s how you keep everything alive.” Hence, Montblanc has moved out of the museum and straight into the 21st century.

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