Since Jérôme Lambert took the helm at Montblanc in 2013 (he recently took the role of Director of Operations at the Richemont group), the brand has been expanding and refining their offerings at an impressive rate. Of course, there have been real value mechanical watches like the Meisterstuck Heritage Perpetual Calendar and the Heritage Chronométrie Chronograph Quantième Annuel, but they also entered the smart watch space with the Summit. Montblanc, fortunately, have not forgotten about the high-end market, though. The technically complex TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18 watch which can time events to 1/1000th of a second is a good example. Another example is this, the quirky Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer 100, which is a huge 50mm vintage-inspired monopusher chronograph watch which can also function as a stopwatch or desk/dashboard clock.
In essence, the new Montblanc Watches Headquarters TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 is a vintage-inspired timepiece with a twist. The inspiration for the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 comes from a vintage rally timer made by Minerva. Minerva was one of the most prominent manufacturers of dashboard instruments and chronograph calibers prior to the Quartz Crisis of the Seventies. In 2006, Minerva was acquired by Richemont for Montblanc and it has since been responsible for some of Montblanc’s most desirable and complicated watches.
Now, what’s interesting about the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 is that it isn’t just a modern reinterpretation of vintage Minerva timer. Oh no, Montblanc hasn’t taken the easy way out. The TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 actually features a uniquely constructed case that allows it to be worn as a chronograph watch or you could remove it from its strap and use it as a stopwatch. You could go even further and use it as a table clock or even as a dashboard-mounted rally timer with its dashboard holder. How does it do all of this?
The answer lies in its case. To begin, the case of the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 is large. It measures 50mm across and is over 15mm thick, but it is constructed out of titanium so it feels much lighter than its size would suggest. The large size case also mean it has a vast dial, which enables it to function as a table clock and dashboard timer. Any smaller and the dial would have been far too hard to read when used as anything other than a wristwatch.
To use the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 as a table clock, simply remove the straps from the foldable lugs, fold the lugs in, and then deploy the foldable stands, and the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 would be able to rest on its own like a small little clock. The straps are secured to the foldable lugs using pins and can be removed in a cinch. To use it as a dashboard timer, simply slot it into the specially made dashboard holder and then secure the holder to your car’s dashboard. If you want to use it as a stopwatch, simply remove the straps, fold the lugs and stands in, and voilà, you have a handheld mechanical stopwatch.
The case is also rotatable, which means that when worn on the wrist, you can either wear it upright such that crown is at 12 o’clock. Or you can rotate the watch slightly such that the crown and the dial are angled. Dials that are angled are supposedly easier to read while driving. The case is very well done, with the large knurled monopusher crown, which is attractive and makes the watch easy to wind. The sides of the case are also knurled, which makes the watch easy to rotate. The back of the case features a shaped display sapphire window that lets owners see the exquisite movement within – more on the movement later.
Because of the sheer size of the dial, the Montblanc TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 is a highly legible watch. At 12 o’clock, you have a 30-minute counter, and at 6 o’clock you have the running seconds. Every 5 minutes is clearly marked out on the dial and in between each minute marker are the quarter divisions for the second. The flange features a rather discrete tachymeter.
Overall, the dial has a clean design. And even though the dial is modeled after a vintage Minerva timer, the typography used is actually quite modern looking, so there’s no mistaking it for a vintage watch. You have the name of the watch “Rally Timer” printed in red in the middle, the “Montblanc” logo in the running seconds subsidiary dial, and the hour and minute hands have a similar design to the rest of the TimeWalker collection. Finally, there’s a large central chronograph seconds hand in red.
The other thing that makes this watch special is its movement. Inside is a Montblanc caliber M16.29, which is actually based on the Minerva caliber 17.29 from the 1930s. It’s a large movement, measuring nearly 37mm across, which makes it ideal for a large watch like the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100. Since it is based on a vintage Minvera chronograph movement, the Montblanc caliber M16.29 has a classic chronograph construction with the signature Devil’s tail, a column-wheel, lateral clutch, and a massive screwed balance wheel.
The Montblanc Watches First Copy 1858 Chronograph Knife is powered with the MB M16.29, which can be a fully in-house manufactured column wheel movement designed to mimic the behavior of this 17.29 pocket chronograph movement, a Minerva-portfolio caliber which dates to the early 1930s. On the other hand, the modern M16.29 is similar only in actuating behavior to its inspiration — the movement is home to a differently extensive modifications which bring about the rear of the watch being the actual star of this show.At first glance, it is the unique horizontal coupling and V-shaped chronograph bridge that grabs the eye, however, a closer examination reveals some downright remarkable color-matching to the elements themselves. Select bridges are in fact, rose gold-plated, yielding a degree of cohesion (front and rear) and comparison that’s otherwise unheard of at this price point. Additionally, it is a excellent visual illustration of how Montblanc’s investment in Minerva has brought out the best in both titles — and nobody wins more than watch fans.On the chronometric front, the motion itself hums in a relatively low 18,000bph, but it is a speed that grants a generous 50 hour power reserve. Like the conventional pocket watch chronograph calibers upon which it’s based, all three actuating functions (start, stop and reset) of the 1858 Chronograph are done by the single pusher at 3:00. It makes for a slightly elongated crown span, but it also removes the set of typically current pushers, producing the cleanest possible case design for a chronograph.Once cased, the motion also undergoes Montblanc’s Laboratory Test 500 procedure, a rigorous, three-week ‘torture test’ of sorts created to simulate the very first year of the watch’s lifetime, and make sure things are running exactly to spec prior to being delivered to the wrist. Montblanc is nowhere near the first brand to do this — Omega has its ‘Master Chronometer’ certification, and Montblanc’s own big brother Jaeger LeCoultre includes a 1000 Hours Evaluation, by way of example, but still — it is reassuring to note that Montblanc stands behinds its in-house built calibers.
The movement is also handsomely decorated by hand with polished screw heads, beveled bridges, Côtes de Genève on the base plate, and circular graining on the wheels. The caliber M16.29 has a power reserve of 50 hours and beats at a leisurely rate of 18,000 beats per hour or 2.5Hz. All in all, it’s a very attractive movement and I’m glad that there’s a large sapphire window on the case back to admire it.
The TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 is possibly the quirkiest new watch in the TimeWalker collection. I say this not only because of its rotatable case with foldable lugs and stands, but also because the design is actually quite modern, but the movement within is resolutely vintage. It is a blend of the new and the old, and I think that overall, it is very well done. Obviously, the large case size means that it isn’t ideal for everyone. But for readers with chunky wrists and a penchant for vintage movements or vintage racing, the TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 makes for a good addition to the collection. The MontBlanc TimeWalker Rally Timer 100 is priced at 38,000 CHF and limited to 100 pieces. montblanc.com