Montblanc has been known for generations as makers of high-quality sophisticated writing instruments and recently established its own leather and watch manufactures. In the past few years, the product range has been expanded to include high quality writing accessories, fine watches, luxury leather goods and belts, jewellery items, eyewear and fragrance. Thus, Montblanc has become purveyors of exclusive products which reflect today’s high demand for quality, design, tradition and master craftsmanship.
Montblanc Montre SA
Since its foundation in 1997, Montblanc Montre SA is located in an Art Nouveau villa in Le Locle – the birthplace of traditional Swiss watch-making – where all Montblanc watches have been manufactured, combining finest craftsmanship and best Swiss watch-making tradition. The success of the Montblanc watch collections shows that Montblanc has attained a secure place in the circle of renowned watchmakers and has become an important partner for jewellers. The ever-increasing demand for Montblanc watches and their rising significance within the Montblanc product range has necessitated an extension of the production facilities. Since summer 2003 a modern and transparent atrium-style building that has been carefully integrated into the landscape complements the historic Art Nouveau villa, reflecting the spirit of the Montblanc philosophy of combining traditional values with innovative ideas.
The headquarters of Montblanc Montre SA, an Art Nouveau villa built in 1906 and finished in 1907, is of the same age as the company Montblanc, which was founded in 1906 in Hamburg. Visitors of the manufacture have the opportunity not only to look over the watchmakers’ shoulders as they work, but also to experience and enjoy the Montblanc philosophy.
For this purpose, the architectural masterpiece also offers five stylishly furnished suites with entirely private atmosphere and a park with historic pavillons equipped with desks to read and write. An island in time, where guests can experience the reliable values that the brand´s products with the white signature star have been committed to for nearly 100 years.
Like all Montblanc products, the watches, too, feature the same high standards of craftsmanship, which have always been associated with the company’s legendary Meisterstück writing instruments. Each of these sophisticated timepieces represents Montblanc´s commitment to traditional craftsmanship and is manufactured in Le Locle by watchmakers following the best Swiss watch making tradition, right down to the very last detail.
Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie
In 1858 Charles-Yvan and Hyppolite Robert founded the H. & C. Robert watchmaking factory in Villeret, a village in the St.Imier valley in the Swiss Jura. They find themselves in the dawn of the industry’s evolution, which consequently lets Switzerland become the worldwide leading watchmaking country.
Like most watch manufacturers during those early years they still outsourced movement blanks, cases, dials and other parts to assemble their own high-quality pocket watches. By predominantly using cylinder escapements and innovative mechanisms to wind and set the hands via the winding crown, the watches can soon establish themselves outside of Switzerland. Their quality is attested to by certification awarded to the company C. Robert at the World Exhibitions of Antwerp (1885) and Paris (1889).
On 30 July 1887, the Minerva brand name and the trademark arrowhead are deposited with the Swiss Federal Office of Intellectual Property. With the entry of the second Robert generation during the end of the 19th century,the business transforms itself into a complete watch manufacture, producing their own movement-blanks and cases,finally mastering all the skills necessary to manufacture a watch from start to finish.
Charles-Ivan Robert’s sons strengthen the independency of the company by broadening the vertical range of manufacture. The production of the first self-made pocket watch movement starts in 1902 and a dozen of own movement blanks are constructed in the following ten years.These movements have cylinder or pallet escapements with chronograph and stopwatch functions. Their steel levers already then have the typical formal characteristics, making the Minerva-Chronographs distinguishable from all others until today. The 19-ligne movement Calibre No.3 does become exceptionally famous, forming the basis for the development of further movements.
In 1909, the company is one of the first manufactures to produce a movement specifically made for wristwatches. This marks the beginning of the proliferation of the wristwatch. During this technical accomplishment, the Robert family has to deal with a personal blow of fate, which caused them to withdraw their commitment towards the company more and more.
In 1929, the company is finally renamed Minerva SA and, on 25 April 1935, sold to Charles Haussener and Jacques Pelot, who had worked for Minerva since 1921; Haussener as Head of Production of movement-blanks and the watch technician Pelot as Director of the Development Department. A watchmaking genius, Pelot extends the product range and, among other things, designs a mechanical stopwatch with a 19-ligne 42 calibre, which runs at a speed of no fewer than 360 000 beats per hour (50 Hertz) and is able to record times to an accuracy of one-hundredth of a second.
Instead of following the prevailing trend and industrializing production, Minerva opts to keep its existing infrastructure, which was perfectly geared to the manufacture of small but highly exclusive series. As one of very few manufacturers, the company is thus able to draw on the master watchmakers, the original tools and the expertise needed to make mechanical timepieces in keeping with authentic Swiss watchmaking tradition.
In 2006, through its cooperation with Montblanc, the legendary Minerva Watch Company became the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie, dedicated to classical fine watchmaking and the upholding of traditional skills and special complications. It is thus able to focus completely on its true calling: the art of watchmaking at its consummate best, calling for enormous manual skill, authentic Swiss tradition and an extremely high degree of vertical integration.
The Minerva was founded in 1858 in the village of Villeret in the Jura and very soon began specialising in the production of chronographs of the very highest quality. Only very few watch manufacturers can still look back on such along,uninterrupted history,and over the years Minerva has held fast to the working methods traditionally associated with Swiss watchmaking at its best.Itis none other than the art of traditional haute horlogerie,which is carried out largely by hand.
Only a very small number of master watchmakers today have the knowledge and expertise needed for this extremely rare and exclusive form of watchmaking. Important components such as the generously sized balance, with its high moment of inertia, are made in-house. The company also produces its own tailor-made balance springs and counts their active length using old, traditional methods, while the mise en function of the chronograph control is carried out meticulously by hand for each individual movement. There are no longer many watch manufacturers who are able to produce such vital components for their timepieces by hand, using traditional methods.
Time Line: Montblanc Watches
1997: Foundation of the Montblanc Montre S.A. in Le Locle / Switzerland. Introduction of the masterly handcrafted Meisterstück Watch and Eyewear collections. Launch of Montblanc’s first Meisterstück Watch Collections at the SIHH (Salon de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva .
1998: Extension of the Meisterstück Watch Collection – introduction of steel watches
2001: Montblanc presents at the Salon de la Haute Horlogerie“ – SIHH in Geneva the world`s most expensive advent calendar, worth 1 Million Swiss Francs – presenting the most luxurious Montblanc products.
2002: Montblanc presents at the „Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie – SIHH“ in Geneva the „Profile Collection“ – Montblanc’s first collection of rectangular wristwatches.
2003: Montblanc presents the new watch model TimeWalker at the „Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie“ – SIHH in Geneva. Launch of the watch collection TimeWalker. The avant-garde design features mechanical movement with automatic winding and uncompromising quality in keeping the high standards of traditional craftsmanship at Montblanc Montre SA in Le Locle, Switzerland.
2005: At the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva, Montblanc presents its new watch models. The hero is the Star XXXL Chrono GMT Automatic, made of 18-carat red gold. Other highlights are the Lady Chrono Diamonds, the Sport Lady Jewels and the TimeWalker GMT Automatic.
2006 : To mark the brand´s centenary in 2006, Montblanc presents a world premiere at the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva: the Star Chrono GMT Perpetual Calendar chronograph in platinum, white, yellow or rose gold. Equally exclusive are the Profile Lady Elegance Diamonds Limited 3 in 18 carat white gold with casing and wristband set with a firework display of diamonds and the innovative Sport Tantalum Automatic Limited Edition 100 with its newly developed helium escape valve.
2006/07: In order to nurture and preserve its tradition, the tradition-steeped watchmaking house of Minerva joined forces with Montblanc, which in its turn is devoted to preserving and practising handed-down manufacturing traditions in all its business activities. Through its cooperation with Montblanc, Minerva becomes the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie, dedicated to classical fine watchmaking and the upholding of traditional skills and special complications.
2008 : Montblanc Presents the first chronograph with its own in-house movement, the ‘Montblanc Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph’, to the international press and a specialist audience at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, as well as the ladies’ watch ‘Montblanc Profile Lady Elegance Diamonds’, a very special masterpiece.
On the 150th jubilee of the establishment of former traditional watchmaking manufacture Minerva, the newly founded Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie is now ensconced in completely renovated premisesin Villeret and presents two new timepieces from the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858.