I have been a longtime admirer of Montblanc’s Villeret collection. They are incredible examples of haute horology. The finissage is exemplary, the aesthetics admirable and the movements meritorious. Sadly, my coveting gaze will always be from afar as their elevated price is beyond my pedestrian purse.
Montblanc have often been associated with fine writing instruments, manufactured in an atelier in Hamburg. However, their range of timepieces are Swiss in origin and congruent with the high quality image of the pens and leather goods which feature in its prestigious boutiques.
Baselworld and SIHH this year did not disappoint with the plethora of über-complicated timepieces harnessing a bewildering array of functions. Masters of metallurgy showed numerous hi-tech syntheses of materials working in harmony and in some instances discord.
I adore tourbillons, minute-repeaters and perpetual calendars. I have enjoyed seeing carbon nano-fibre technology, ceramic and grade 5 titanium being harnessed to great effect. However, sometimes this rich diet can be too much to bear.
It is often enjoyable to visit a Michelin starred restaurant and drink the finest French wines, but not everyday even if your pecuniary facility would allow. There are times when a home cooked meal with friends and family in an informal setting with simple, honest wine offers great appeal.
Sometimes in life, less is more. This brings me to a watch which caught my eye earlier this year in Geneva, the Montblanc Star Classique Automatic.
This watch lacks complexity, absent of enamelling, gem-set bezel or copious complications. It is designed to appeal to the wearer who wants an elegant, slim, timeless classic.
The dial is silver-coloured with gold-plated index and numerals.
Roman numerals are presented in an Italic font and appear at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock and noon. The hours in between are marked with gold coloured indices in a clean, succinct form.
A subdial is located above 6 o’clock, recessed and depicted with the company’s emblem, the snow-capped mountain which lends its name to the brand’s nomenclature. A small leaf shaped hand, a miniature facsimile of hour and minute hands, conveys the subsidiary seconds.
The origin of the watch is clearly shown at the southerly base of the dial.
The brand’s soubriquet is shown above the centre of the dial and beneath this, the word, “automatic”, alluding to the convenient self-winding aspect of the movement.
The case is 39 mm in diameter. Many years ago this would have been considered large, but in the recent era of over-sized watches, it is modest in size. This is a nod to the classical dress watches of yesteryear.
The glass of the dial is slightly cambered and the slender bezel, elegantly frames the face of the watch.
The lugs are short, arcing downwards and drawing the strap close to the case. The upper and lower flanks of the case affectionately kiss the strap at its centre, such is the intimate proximity of the strap and case.
The crown is knurled and features the black and white insignia which resides on the top of my Starwalker pen that I use to write this article.
The case is shallow in height. It is a mere 8.9 mm high. Whilst not the thinnest case commercially available, it does underscore the elegant dress watch persona.
The back of the watch features a flat sapphire crystal back to remind the wearer that this is a mechanical timepiece and not an inert quartz offering, devoid of emotion.
The Montblanc Star Classique Automatic uses the MBL 4810/408 calibre. It is a self-winding movement driving three hands.
It does not pretend to be an elaborate, highly decorated calibre. It offers simple mechanical purity.
The movement has a frequency of 28,800 vph, features 27 jewels and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
I first heard the song, “When you wish upon a star” as a child watching the Disney classic, Pinocchio. It was written by Leigh Harlene and Ned Washington and performed by Cliff Edwards in his role as Jiminy Cricket. However, it has become a jazz standard immortalised by the Great Satchmo, Louis Armstrong.
The reason this song came to mind, was because of the honesty of the watch. It has a truth. It does not pretend to be complex or the pinnacle of haute horology, that is the preserve of Villeret. This watch is ingenuous, Montblanc’s nasal septum won’t grow.
The Montblanc Star Classique Automatic has an intrinsic beauty. It’s minimalistic design is tasteful, elegant and does not try too hard.
This is a mechanical watch, absent of complication, priced competitively with a classical look which will not date with the passage of time. If this is the type of watch you seek, then you need look no further.
As Louis Armstrong eloquently sang in his rich, treacle-like timbre, “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true”.