This new Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar is among the most exciting new watches unveiled at this year’s SIHH. For one, it the capstone of the gorgeous new Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage collection. For two, it is a gorgeous perpetual calendar in both of its variations: 39mm rose gold or 39mm stainless steel case. And for three, the steel model will retail at just under $13,000. Yes that’s right — a high quality Swiss perpetual calendar is now truly within reach of collectors of more modest means. This watch is a star in my book — my criticisms nothwithstanding — so let’s take a closer look, shall we.
The displays of the Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar are arranged on the dial as follows: date at 3 o’clock, day of the week at 9 o’clock, and month at 12 o’clock. On the inner scale of the month display, the leap-year cycle is shown by a blue triangle and a leap year is indicated by a red “4”. Note that these sub-dials are all partially recessed as well. The moon phase aperture is situated at 6 o’clock, just above the soft-toned Montblanc logo and “automatic” notation. The calendar functions all have blued hands which contrast nicely against the sunburst silver-white, cambered dial. The main hour/minute and hour indices are all gold plated, for both steel and rose gold case. The polished case and lugs are smooth and graceful and at the “just right” 39mm size.
The dial is overall nicely arranged, though I have two quibbles: 1) its proportion — as I will touch upon more below, and 2) indices and hand color on the steel model — would like to have seen them in a steel tone to match the case, rather than in rose gold (giving a two-tone look). But in relation to price, these factors are an aesthetic issue that can be overlooked.
Here you can see the contrast between steel case and gold indices and hour/minute hands (photo: Montblanc):
Interestingly enough, a lower-priced i.e. more accessible perpetual calendar was launched last year by Jaeger-LeCoultre. The JLC Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar in steel (Ref Q130842J) is a gorgeous watch and was groundbreaking for its sub-$20,000 price. Oh by the way — I was there for the official U.S. unveiling so if you haven’t seen it be sure to check out my report on the MUT QP (quantieme perpetuel aka perpetual calendar) in steel here. But I digress. My point in mentioning JLC here is that, the aforementioned JLC MUT QP at $19,950 was simply unheard of for one of horology’s most coveted complications, let alone the fact it came out of one of horology’s most coveted manufactures. And now we see Montblanc dropping in at under $13,000 for its own perpetual calendar? Wow. Nice. Oh, on a related note: JLC’s CEO Jerome Lambert is now the CEO of Montblanc. Coincidence? Most definitely not.
A second point here is that there is clearly a perceived gap in the market for a (relatively) accessible perpetual calendar, and perception with which I agree.
Of course it is to be expected that to achieve a QP at such a price there must be some tradeoffs. And indeed there are, but let me say up front that by no means do these nuances lessen the absolute attractiveness of this watch. This is fairly subtle and/or preferential stuff, but for those of you who are going to go out and buy this watch — and I’m sure there will be several of you who are Perpetuelle readers — you should understand the some of the subtlety of how such a watch can be offered at such a price. So, at risk of caviling, I offer a few more observations.
For one, the calendar layout is a bit tight. It is a matter of proportion — notice how the calendar indicators are arranged close to the center of the dial (as compared to this JLC, for just one example). Secondly, as I mentioned above, the steel model has gold colored hands and indices; I think it would look much better with a mono- rather than two-tone aesthetic. This aesthetic judgement is really a matter of personal preference.
Third and last, the level of finish and detail on the movement is nice, but certainly not of extremely high grade. Movement decoration and finishing can be a laborious process, and in really high end pieces hundreds of hours can be dedicated to the finish. This is not the case with the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar. The movement finishing is nice, but not elaborate. Again a tradeoff that is to be expected. Speaking of the movement — I observe that Montblanc has not released many details about the Calibre MB 29.15 in this watch, but a commenter below indicated it is an ETA base with DD caliber.
All said and done, I think the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar a fantastic watch that will find its way into passionate watch aficionados and collectors who might otherwise not reach the upper echelons of a perpetual calendar, a la Patek or AP or JLC. And more broadly, it is a fitting capstone for the new Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage collection which seems to hold immense promise for the future of Montblanc haute watchmaking. Nicely done, Montblanc.