This is the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Annual Calendar Chronograph replica watch, which proswisswatch.com recently saw up close with ahead of its official launch at SIHH next week.
Now the Zenith Winsor is an interesting thing to consider, for its strengths but really also for its weaknesses. Coming towards the end of (current Rolex CEO) Jean-Frederic Dufour’s reign, its arrival summed up his drive towards value and classicism, but also the problems around concept and design that have often beset Zenith. It lacks the meaty design and functionality of a useful chronograph (no tachy scale, no chrono hours), nor the busy calendar theatrics of a complex calendar watch. In fact, you could argue that even though it’s not an annual calendar, the El Primero 410 is a much better option. And by the way, what the heck is “Winsor”, if it isn’t WinDsor?
In fact almost nobody else does one – the sole exception being Zenith, which launched its El Primero “Winsor” Annual Calendar Chronograph three years ago. Interestingly, Zenith’s and Montblanc’s watches are priced almost exactly the same. As a genre, annual calendar chronographs are almost exclusively associated with (and were invented by) Patek Philippe of course – a kind of more accessible cousin to Patek’s most celebrated complication, the perpetual calendar chronograph.
With the Heritage Annual Calendar Chronograph, you get all the fun detail of a busy classical calendar – in fact, it’s arguably a more satisfying lay-out than that of the Heritage Chronmetrie annual calendar unveiled last year. As with 2013’s perpetual calendar, the watch that kicked off Montblanc’s march up the horological ranks, there’s perhaps a minor issue around the close positioning of the sub-dials in the Dubois Depraz-designed calendar modules (we’re assuming the complications specialist is again responsible for the new watch’s calendar). What’s pleasing is that the greater amount of information in fact adds up to a more balanced whole.
So, running round the dial, you have the date at 12 o’clock, with running seconds; the moon phases at 3 o’clock, indicated by four gold moons in different phases, and a hand turning through them over a 29.5 day cycle; at 6 o’clock is the day of the week plus chronograph hours; and at 9 o’clock the month plus chronograph minutes. Chronograph functions (plus running seconds) are shown with blued hands, while date functions have gold hands.
There are a couple of recessed buttons situated around the pushers for changing the calendar.The case and over-all style displays the crisp, 1950s-influenced style of the Complicated Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie replica collection that was introduced at SIHH one year ago, with minimal hour markings, clean case profile and streamlined, squared-off chrono pushers.
Its mixture of complex function, classical styling and value is – even though we’re used to this from Montblanc by now – frankly astonishing; what’s more, it falls into what seems to be a huge gap in the market that only Zenith had noticed, but had not been able to capitalize on. I’ve a feeling Montblanc will have no trouble.
Given the modular construction (we’re not sure of the base movement), there’s a certain heft to the Swiss-made fake Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Annual Calendar Chronograph, but it’s a hugely wearable watch.