How Does Montblanc Plan To Stay Ahead Of The Luxury Watch Market? CEO Nicolas Baretzki Tells All
Innovation and fine craftsmanship have always been at the core of Montblanc's vision for excellence. Originally known for its luxury writing instruments, the brand has since grown to incorporate timepieces in its portfolio, launching its first watch in 1997. In 2017, the Richemont Group estimated that women would constitute a sizeable quarter of the luxury watch market clientele. It's no wonder the heat is on for high-end watch brands to strike a balance between complicated mechanisms and feminine designs.
The Bohème line, Montblanc's first women's watch collection launched five years ago, is a great embodiment of a piece designed for the seismic shift towards a female-centric market.
Since its introduction, the watches have been extremely well-received and the brand has capitalised on their popularity to release variations that appeal to a wider set of women, especially those who are not serious watch collectors but just fans of beautiful design.
In July, Montblanc unveiled several new additions to the line, each featuring the collection's signature polished cases with slightly curved and faceted horns, sculptured onion crows, and bezels set with sparkling diamonds for that added touch of sophistication.
Particularly outstanding is the Bohème Manufacture Perpetual Calendar fitted with a new in-house movement, the calibre MB 29.22. It is also equipped with a practical dual-time function and a 24-hour indicator—functions essential to the jet set.
The watchmakers at Montblanc have also incorporated a safety feature into the movement to prevent users from setting the watch from 8pm to 12pm—adjusting the watch during these hours will cause damage to the movement as the correctors are locked.
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Besides the new Bohème variants, there are also two new additions to the Star Legacy collection, a range of watches that reflects the rich horological history of Minerva, a top-notch manufacture that Montblanc had acquired and integrated into its operations in 2006.
To showcase its watchmaking expertise, Montblanc introduced the moonphase complication to the new Star Legacy watches and, in a subtle touch of elegance, it encircled the small seconds counter at 6 o'clock with a ring of diamonds. Judging from the reaction of the crowd at the launch in Shanghai, the Star Legacy Moonphase & Date, which comes in either 32mm or 36mm, looks set to be a bit.
We spoke with Nicolas Baretzki, CEO of Montblanc, who shed light on the crucial role of Minerva in crafting Montblanc's watch legacy, and how the brand plans to prevail in the luxury watch race that is currently unfolding.
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What sets Montblanc's watches apart from the competition?
NB Our unique unification with Minerva, a company famous for manufacturing groundbreaking professional chronographs used in the Olympic Games, truly sets Montblanc apart. Minerva was also the official timekeeper of the legendary Le Mans race in Paris, which means we have 161 years of history in watchmaking savoir faire.
How is the legacy of Minerva reflected in the new ladies timepieces?
NB Although the influence of Minerva is seen in our novelties, I think it can be especially appreciated in our Bohème Manufacture Perpetual Calendar. It took three years to develop a brand-new in-house perpetual calendar movement for this piece, which operates solely on wheels compared to most perpetual calendars that use levers. This enables the user to adjust the watch via the crown in both directions, making it far simpler to set.
How do the new Bohème and Star Legacy ladies timepieces enhance their existing collections?
NB The Bohème product line blends simplicity with timeless design and refined complications. The inspiration behind the collection comes from the many facets of today's woman. Apart from our Bohème Manufacture Perpetual Calendar, we are also releasing our Bohème Full Calendar, which features a full calendar complication that indicates the month, the date and a moonphase. Our two new Bohème Day & Night models allow the wearer to know whether it is day or night just by glancing at the dial—this complication is as romantic as it is practical.
As for the Star Legacy Moonphase, we are incorporating a moonphase complication that follows the progression of the moon through its different phrases, highlighting the illuminated portion of the moon as it would be seen from Earth. The dial is highlighted by a diamond ring encircling the small seconds counter. This is not only a new feature for us, but also rarely seen in watchmaking.