Editor’s Note: If you like classic style with a complicated twist, then you should know Montblanc’s Heritage Chronométrie collection. It offers some of the best-value fine watchmaking around, from worldtimers to perpetual calendars, including this sharp complete calendar.
The story in a second
As part of their brand new heritage collection, Montblanc have released the Chronométrie Quantième Complet, a design straight from the golden era of 1950s watch design.
The big question
Montblanc impressed a few years back with the Meisterstück Perpetual Calendar, termed by some (obviously WWF fans) in the media to be “the troublemaker”, and since then they’ve made calendar complications a mainstay of their collections. Does the Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Complet offer enough to stand out from the pack?
There’s a certain gravitas to a watch that displays a full calendar. By virtue of its complication, it encourages the wearer to take a long view. Time isn’t just displayed in hours and minutes, but in days and months. Because of this, calendar watches tend to be serious and sober. The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Complet is no exception. As befits a watch sitting in Montblanc’s heritage collection, the Quantième Complet is a classic design, with a clean, no-fuss dial reminiscent of the iconic mid-century calendar watches from the likes of Rolex and Patek Philippe. It’s a versatile watch with broad appeal not least because, in typical Montblanc form, it offers tremendous value.
First things first. What is a complete calendar? Well, simply put, a complete calendar displays date, day and month (Montblanc have thrown in a moonphase for good measure), but you need to adjust it five times a year, at the end of any month that has less than 31 days. The complete calendar shouldn’t be confused with the annual calendar, which only needs to be adjusted at the end of February, or with the perpetual calendar which takes leap years into account and only needs adjusting every century or so.
Montblanc have managed a very clever balancing act – interesting without being busy, clean without being boring and refined without being rarefied.
Now that our calendars are synched, let’s take a closer look at the dial of the Quantième Complet. Well balanced and displaying a lot of information neatly and tidily, it holds up well to scrutiny. The date is shown via the marker hand at the outer edge of the dial, and the day, month and moonphase occupy the central section of the dial, allowing beautiful expanses of the silver sunburst dial to shine through. The only thing the watch doesn’t have is a running seconds hand. Add to this the applied, faceted rhodium-plated indices and sword hands and you’ve got a watch that is surprisingly clean for something so complex. Everything, right down to the font used for the numerals, is reserved. The dial, more than anywhere else, highlights how Montblanc have managed a very clever balancing act – interesting without being busy, clean without being boring and refined without being rarefied.
One of my favourite elements of this watch is the stainless steel case – though not because it’s breaking new ground in terms of design or construction. In fact, precisely the opposite. The Quantième Complet’s case is simple and slim, and that’s what makes it great. It comes in at 9.7mm high, which is slender for a watch with a modular complication, and measures 40mm across, the perfect size for a more formal piece like this. Montblanc have been clever in not messing with the DNA of this very traditional complete calendar, and the watch is all the better for it. The polished case is versatile enough to look good in a wide range of situations, and restrained enough not to steal any thunder from the dial – the rightful star of the show.
Ticking away inside the Quantième Complet is the MB 29.16 – a Sellita movement with a Dubois Dépraz calendar module – both dependable and proven performers. While this might not have the same level of cachet as an in-house movement, this is the main reason the price doesn’t stray into five-figure territory. And functionally it’s quite intuitive. Time is adjusted at the crown, and each of the calendar functions and the moonphase is adjusted via a recessed pusher integrated into the side of the case, using a tool that’s provided. This method is fairly standard at this price point, as the ease of adjusting everything through the crown would require an integrated complication. And while it’s not a major problem, it is important to note that every second month or so you’ll have to manually advance the date. If you’re the sort of person who’s likely to let your watch wind down over the weekend, prepare to spend time on Monday morning getting the date in order.
The other important thing to note about this movement (and every Heritage Chronométrie piece, for that matter) is that it’s been subjected to Montblanc’s strenuous 500-hour test (you can find out more about this test here), a reassuring mark of quality.
The model I reviewed came on a stainless brick style bracelet with a double folding clasp. It was pleasant to wear, well made and comfortable, with fully polished links that suit the smartness of the watch. It’s also offered on a black alligator strap that gives the watch an even more formal, dressy air. And while both these options are fine, I think the classic style of this watch really lends it to customisation. A slightly distressed tan strap, or a suede strap would really highlight the vintage inspiration for this watch. Something like this Bulang & Sons strap would look amazing.
That the watch looks so good on different straps plays to one of the great strengths of the Quantième Complet, which is its chameleonic personality.
On the wrist
The Montblanc Quantième Complet was a pleasure to wear. It’s so slim and comfortable that it’s easy to forget it’s there, until you catch a glimpse of the vibrant, reflective dial in the sun, or spot the bright blue and gold of the moonphase peeking out from under your cuff. And while the classical good looks were the main reason I really enjoyed wearing this watch, the other was the sheer convenience. In an age dominated by screens, I found it refreshing, in an old-world romance kind of way, to be able to glance and my wrist and find out so much useful information.
We suggest that whenever someone asks you for the time, throw in the complete date as well.
For the watch forums
Is this the best value complete calendar watch on the market right now?
Who’s it for?
This watch would look great on pretty much anyone, though it’s suited (pardon the pun) towards the more formal business crowd. But really, this is the watch for someone who loves the idea of a complicated calendar, but who always felt it would be out of their budget.
What would we change?
It’s a bit of a personal preference, but I always prefer a watch with a seconds hand – otherwise I always have a nagging worry that it’s not running. I’d add that, if only for my peace of mind.
Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Complet Australian pricing
The Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Complet on bracelet (112647) has a retail price of $7000. On a leather strap (112538) the price is $6600.
Images by Kristoffer Paulsen.