Montblanc is quickly developing a reputation for delivering beautiful, complicated wristwatches that offer excellent value. The brand delivered again at SIHH this year, with one of my favorite pieces from show, the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum.
To start, it must be said that seen in person, this watch offers looks far above its price. If we inadvertently added a “1” in front of the stainless steel model’s MSRP, few would instantly spot the error. This is due, at least in part, to the exotic nature of the world-time complication, and the manner in which Montblanc executes it. The overall look speaks of quality. The slender, faceted dauphine hands, the crisp lettering, and, to the discerning eye, the world map with its light and dark continents, whisper “Look closer, this is something special.”
The inspiration for the dial construction lies in Montblanc’s recent past. Think of the Metamorphosis II launched in 2014, and the Rieussec Rising Hours from 2012, and perhaps you see the pattern – layers.
Montblanc put its multi-layered experience to excellent use to develop an in-house world time complication that is simple to read and easy to use. At its center, the main sapphire crystal dial displays the continents as viewed from the North Pole. This globe is encircled by the names of the 24 cities representing the time zones. The continents are cut out, or openworked, so that we can see something below. Beneath the main dial is a disc with light and dark areas representing day and night. This lower disk rotates, powered by the movement.
To adjust the time, the desired local city is positioned at 6 o’clock via the pusher at 8 o’clock. Then the hours and minutes (which are always linked with the day/night and 24 hours time zone disk) can be adjusted through the crown to set the correct local time in the selected city. Once this is done, the time in each of the 24 time zones will be displayed around the sapphire crystal dial.
The day/night disk shows at a glance where it is day or night on the planet. The rotation of this disc changes the colors of the continents as seen on the dial, alternately from light (day) to dark (night). This type of display is both functional and rare.
When travelling to another time zone, the new destination city simply needs be placed at 6 o’clock. This adjustment is again done through the pusher at 8 o’clock which will simultaneously adjust the continents and cities, the day/night disc with the 24 time zones, as well as the hour hand in one-hour jumps. The precise time of the minutes is not affected. Once this easy resetting is done, the local time of the new destination, as well as the 24 time zones, will be fully synchronized again.
For the moment, we have only euro pricing. Offered in a 41mm case, the Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum is available in stainless steel on strap priced at €4,990, or bracelet at €5,250, and in 18k red gold on strap at €13,900.