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The Complete Buying Guide to Montblanc Watches

The German pen maker is also a serious watchmaker.

montblanc variety of watches
Montblanc

Pens? Jewelry? Leather? Headphones? If you’re a curious watch collector, it might be tough to pin down what Montblanc is actually about.

But since its founding in 1906 as a fountain pen manufacturer in Hamburg, Germany, Montblanc has evolved into one of the most expansive and recognizable luxury brands we know today. And with deep associations spanning well into a range of luxury goods, there’s rich history to be found for any watch enthusiast that digs deep enough to find the real, horological story.

Early Years

Simplizissiumus-Füllhalter was founded by Berlin designer August Eberstein and a Hamburg banker named Alfred Nehemias, and soon changed its name to the much easier to pronounce Simplo Filler Pen Co. GmbH. More changes of ownership and name would ultimately lead to it becoming the more familiar Montblanc.

Their initial success can be credited to the Simplicissiumus pen design, or Simplo, which had a built-in ink well in 1909. The first commercially available model — the Rouge et Noir — was quickly succeeded by another model in 1910, simply called Montblanc. The company's name change followed.

montblanc black watch on table
Montblanc first started making watches in 1997. Shown here: the Montblanc 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow Limited Edition.
Montblanc

Arguably, the cornerstone of Montblanc’s brand identity is the Meisterstück (German for "masterpiece") pen. First launched in 1924, the Meisterstück propelled Montblanc into international stardom, with a model eventually making its way to the desk of one of Montblanc’s most famous customers decades later—United States President John F. Kennedy.

Since 1929, the Meisterstück’s nib has been engraved with "4810," a reference to the 4,810 meter height of the Mont Blanc mountain to which the brand also nods in its six-pointed snowcap logo. Naturally, references to the mountain figures into Montblanc branding in multiple ways.

More acquisitions (by Alfred Dunhill Ltd. in 1977, which later merged with Cartier and became known as Groupe Vendôme) eventually led to its joining the Richemont Group in 1998 where it resides today. It’s during this era when Montblanc’s eye for quality and craftsmanship merged with the watchmaking world.

So, What About the Watches?

Montblanc's story is really a tale of two companies: the pen maker and the watchmaker Minerva. Another number you might find swirling through Montblanc's catalog is 1858. This refers to the year a movement-making company founded by Charles Robert and brother Hyppolite, came to the Swiss town of Villeret.

town of villeret
The Swiss town of Villeret, home of Minerva and where Montblanc’s highest-end watches are made.
Oren Hartov

With its capacity to produce high-end, highly renowned movements (especially chronographs), the Fabrique d’Horlogerie Minerva SA (as it was later known) managed to actually survive the Quartz Crisis that killed off many watchmakers. Its ability to produce balance wheels and hairsprings in-house eventually Richemont which purchased the movement company in 2006.

Montblanc had added watches to its portfolio of luxury products in 1997, but it entered a new era when Richemont entrusted it with Minerva.

Today, Montblanc's watchmaking identity draws heavily on Minerva, which it mostly refers to simply as Villeret. Much of this identity is expressed in design, as only a fraction of Montblanc watches contain higher-end movements produced in Villeret — the rest are based on common sourced calibers from the likes of ETA and Sellita, usually following the naming convention MB 2X.XX.

The brand's halo products contain Villeret movements produced in the same Minerva facilities that were established in 1902.

inside a montblanc watch
Some Montblanc watches contain high-end movements made in Villeret.
Montblanc

Pen and Watch Collectors Unite

Aside from the watches, the culture behind collecting Montblanc products focuses heavily on pens and even high-end leather goods today. In fact, since 1935, Montblanc has produced all in-house leather products, including all of its own pen cases and watch straps.

This allows the brand to resonate strongly with collectors across both the watchmaking and EDC communities interested in fostering expansive collections of watches, leather knick-knacks, writing instruments, and more. It's little surprise that there's some overlap between pen and watch collecting circles.

After absorbing Fabrique d’Horlogerie Minerva SA in 2006, Montblanc interest among watch collectors has grown, as the brand continues to cater to enthusiasts interested in exploring one of the most enduring manufacturers in all of Swiss watchmaking history. So there are multiple reasons to be interested in Montblanc — and a wide range of watches to check out.

Montblanc Watches Buying Guide

Montblanc 1858 Collection

The Montblanc 1858 collection serves as the brand’s most direct, contemporary connection to the Minerva movement manufacturer. It’s here where you’ll find a range of sport models inspired by both the design and movement-making technologies of Fabrique d’Horlogerie Minerva SA.

For the kind of sport watches that rival similar brands across the Richemont family, it’s a good bet that you can start here if you’re looking for a sporty dive watch, military-inspired chronograph, or something with a deep connection to one of the oldest Swiss movement-making companies around. This is what Montblanc brands as the product line “with today's explorers in mind.”

Montblanc
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph
$5,200.00

Looking for one of the most faithful, modern interpretations of Miverva watches from the 1920s and 1930s? The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph exhibits the spirit of the legendary watches intended for military use and mountain exploration brought to us by Minerva.

This specific example is fully satin-finished for a rugged look and features an automatic monopusher chronograph — one of the nerdiest chronograph iterations you can find for around $5k. Available on a beads-of-rice bracelet or as a limited edition in bronze with a textile strap, it’s one of the easiest places to start if you’re looking to break into the Montblanc game.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: IWC 69370 automatic
Water Resistance: 100m
Price
: $5,200-$6,000

Montblanc
Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date
$2,975.00

Released at Watches & Wonders 2022, the Iced Sea Automatic collection is Montblanc’s first-ever sports diving watch. While it’s part of the 1858 collection, these models demonstrate some of the most modern design choices available across Montblanc’s entire line-up.

There are three dial options in black, blue, and green inspired by the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the main glacier of the Mont-Blanc Massif. It’s available both on a bracelet and a rubber strap.

Diameter: 41mm
Movement
: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 300m
Price
: $2,975-$3,190

Montblanc
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph
$4,900.00

Like the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph, the 1858 Automatic Chronograph recalls some of Minerva's earlier designs, but with a modern look appropriate for today’s collectors. This specific model features a clean blue dial with a bi-directional compass bezel and a matching blue leather strap.

At 42mm, it serves as a bridge between modern and vintage, while exhibiting Montblanc’s desire to drive the spirit of exploration and Minerva’s heritage in its modern lines. To advance its day-to-day practicality, this model features 100m of water resistance and a sapphire crystal for durability.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: Sellita SW 510 automatic
Water Resistance: 100m
Price
: $4,900

Montblanc
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere
$6,400.00

Montblanc’s Geosphere line of watches is perhaps the most emblematic sub-collection Montblanc offers today. While they do represent the same vintage Minerva charm the other models seek to achieve, the Geosphere platform watches are by far the most recognizable. With several versions ranging from basic steel to titanium, and even limited versions in bronze, the Geosphere also delivers practical dual-time functionality along with a stunning, dual-hemisphere world time display.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: Modified Sellita SW300 automatic
Water Resistance: 100m
Price
: $6,400-$6,800

Montblanc
Montblanc 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow Limited Edition
$29,500.00

This is it — the one watch in the 1858 line that pulls zero punches and represents the full scope of Montblanc’s vintage-inspired watchmaking today. Highly limited and with a Villeret movement and luxurious appointments like an 18K white gold fluted bezel, the Red Arrow both plays and looks the part of '30s-era Minerva chronographs with military-ready functionality. Only 88 examples are available, but it’s the ultimate choice and pinnacle of the current 1858 collection.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: Montblanc MB 13.21 hand-wound
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: $29,500

Montblanc Heritage Collection

These models are inspired by historical Minerva wristwatches. Each piece pairs Montblanc's modern watchmaking techniques, luxury leather practices, and an eye for detail to deliver high-end pieces that cover the luxury space and products ready for adventure.

Montblanc
Montblanc Heritage Monopusher Chronograph
$5,200.00

With the same desire to promote Minerva’s classic wristwatches from the 1940s and 1950s, this classic-looking chronograph combines Montblanc’s modern watchmaking tech with a coveted salmon dial and the same monopusher functionality you can find in the 1858 collection.

If you aren’t a fan of the Instagrammable salmon dial, Montblanc offers this same model with a clean white dial with blue and red accents throughout, paired with a black alligator strap. At 42mm, it’s perfect for those seeking a blend between modern and vintage.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: IWC 69370 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m
Price
: $5,200

Montblanc
Montblanc Heritage GMT
$2,975.00

At just 40mm, the Montblanc Heritage GMT distills the Heritage Collection’s look down to a simple, travel-ready GMT on a leather strap. You can score this one with a clean white dial or a salmon dial with blue accents on a black strap. At just under $3,000, it’s one of the most attractive offerings from Montblanc if you’re looking for a heritage-inspired piece with a travel-ready movement and configuration.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement
: ETA 2893 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m
Price
: $2,975

Montblanc
Montblanc Heritage Automatic Chronograph
$4,300.00

Perhaps the cleanest three-register chronograph available from Montblanc, the Heritage Automatic Chronograph brings even more variety to the Heritage lineup. If you aren’t a fan of the monopusher design, this is a great option with similar details and functionality. Plus, it comes in at just under $5k and you can get it with a white or burnt caramel-colored dial on a matching leather strap.

Diameter: 41mm
Movement
: IWC 69370 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m
Price
: $4,300

Montblanc
Montblanc Heritage Automatic
$2,435.00

Maybe you don't need all these complications and the prices they entail. If so, you might find the simplicity you seek in the Heritage Automatic. These are available with or without date and day complications and there’s even a version in 18 K rose gold. Sizing is also great at around 40mm with a range of dial colors and strap options to chose from — the cleanest being the silvery-white dial featuring rhodium-coated indexes.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement
: Sellita SW240 automatic, Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m
Price
: $2,435-$9,600

Montblanc Star Legacy Collection

Like the Heritage and 1858 collections, Montblanc’s Star Legacy watches reference key Minerva designs from the past. But here, Montblanc combines a wealth of Minerva lineage with modern-looking configurations and materials for a more contemporary feel. Overall, you’ll see sporty day-to-day models and dress watches, all the way to an extremely-limited high-horology piece.

Montblanc
Montblanc Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph
$4,300.00

Like many of Montblanc’s other chronograph models, the Star Legacy Automatic offers a no-frills, dressy look. This model takes it up a notch with Breguet-style numerals, curved lugs and an onion crown. To match the elegant blued hands, Montblanc also pairs it with a blue Sfumato alligator leather strap the brand makes in-house.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: ETA 7753 automatic
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: $4,300

Montblanc
Montblanc Star Legacy Full Calendar
$4,900.00

There are few watch designs that capture complexity and beauty the way a full calendar does. Having the day, date and month outlined clearly on a dial is just plain practical, and often leaves you with visual interest similar to something more complex like an annual calendar. The Star Legacy Full Calendar takes the real estate of a 42mm case (we would be so all over a 40mm version) and packs in a functional “triple calendar” layout together with a moon phase display.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement
: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: $4,900

Montblanc
Montblanc Star Legacy Automatic Date 43 mm
$3,560.00

While so much of what we’ve talked about so far lives well within the “dress watch” space, the Star Legacy lineup also offers a few straightforward, all-steel models with a sportier vibe. By making use of a larger 43mm case, the Automatic Date pays tribute to Minerva pocket watches of the past and pairs the look with a stainless steel case and bracelet. And this time-only variant is just the start: Montblanc also expands on the platform with moonphases, chronographs, day-dates and smaller options measuring down to 32mm.

Diameter: 43mm
Movement
: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m
Price
: $3,560

Montblanc
Montblanc Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date
$5,300.00

The Star Legacy Chronograph Day & Date might represent the most feature-packed model in this lineup. This model gives you a different chronograph layout with registers at 12, 6, and 9 plus a traditional day-date readout at 3 o’clock. It’s a bold look at 43mm. But for those who can pull it off, it makes for a nice, modern-looking sport chronograph that contrasts with Montblanc’s other heritage-inspired pieces.

Diameter: 43mm
Movement
: Sellita SW500 automatic
Water Resistance: 50m
Price
: $5,300

Montblanc Tradition Collection

For an even more minimalist and, well, traditional take on wristwatches from Montblanc, look no further than the Tradition line. This collection offers a couple more accessible options, both with quartz and automatic movements. All models in this lineup are time-only and for the most part, provide a dressier and more elegant look than that the previously mentioned complicated and sporty collections.

Montblanc
Montblanc Tradition Automatic Date 40 mm
$2,155.00

You can’t beat the Tradition Automatic Date if you’re looking for an entry-level automatic watch from Montblanc. With a range of sizes along with leather and bracelet options, you’ll find what you’re looking for easily. Each one comes with an attractive time-only dial with a date funtion at 3 o’ clock.

Diameter
: 32mm - 40mm
Movement
: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: $1,830 - $2,155

Montblanc
Montblanc Tradition Quartz Date 40 mm
$1,290.00

With a a silver-white dial and rhodium-coated Roman numerals, this may be one of the classiest quartz dress watches you can find. At 40mm, it makes for more of a modern piece and will likely go well with a suit or a t-shirt and jeans. Like pricier models in Montblanc's lineup, you still get an in-house crafted leather strap that ties together the whole package.

Diameter
: 40mm
Movement
: ETA 955.112 quartz
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: $1,290

Montblanc Bohème Collection

Montblanc’s dedicated women’s lineup, the Bohème Collection offers designs not seen in other sections of the Montblanc catalog. Each model offers a different take on Montblanc elegance and there’s an especially attractive day/night model Montblanc should definitely explore as a larger unisex model in the future.

Montblanc
Montblanc Bohème Day & Night 34 mm
$3,990.00

Available in 30mm and 34mm case sizes, the Bohème Day & Night serves as the flagship model within the Bohème collection. All models feature diamond indexes and rose gold hands and can be purchased on leather or with a matching bracelet. And if you opt for the blue dial version, just know that it’s only available with the 18k rose gold case.

Diameter: 30mm & 34mm
Movement
: Sellita SW300 automatic
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: 3,560 – $7,500

Montblanc
Montblanc Bohème Automatic Date 30 mm
$3,180.00

For the most basic time-only Bohème model, go for the Automatic Date. While it may appear restrained compared to some other Montblanc pieces, this one still offers a cool, elliptical opening at 6 o'clock for the date with a a sculpted onion crown and guilloché dial.

Diameter: 30mm
Movement
: MB 24.14
Water Resistance: 30m
Price
: $2,910

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