In Conversation With Jens Henning Koch @ Executive Vice President of MONTBLANC

Sharing the passion for fine watchmaking, MONTBLANC brings its high intensity, innovation and attention to details leveraging different segments to a journey into the heart of the brand's spirit to the Watches & Wonders Exhibition in Hong Kong recently. Jens Henning Koch, Executive Vice President of MONTBLANC spent a small part of his busy schedule with mylifestylenews on how the brand drives him to another level of fine watchmaking.....

Since I came on board in Aug 2013, our passion in innovation watchmaking remain unchanged. We are leveraging into different segments and paying attention to details like thehigh-inertia balance spring is the most important part of a watch, is made entirely in-house and counted by hand in the company’s workshops. Only very few manufactures worldwide today still possess the level of skill required for such precise work.

A “manufacture” philosophy, master craftsmanship, a thrilling combination of tradition and innovation, these elements are all part of the Montblanc spirit and can be found in this authentic, intimate and welcoming space.

The Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret benefits from over 150 years of uninterrupted traditional Swiss watchmaking expertise. With timeless aesthetics and intricate mechanical movements crafted entirely in-house, the watches produced there still express the same core values upon which the workshop was established in 1858.

A great deal of thought has gone into the set in order to transfer the atmosphere of precision of the horological ateliers of the Montblanc manufactures in Villeret to the Hong Kong exhibition.

The Montblanc stand connects Switzerland to Asia with spectacular giant screens resembling the ateliers’ windows offering a panoramic view of the Jura mountains and the village of Villeret where the manufacture first started - the same view Montblanc watchmakers enjoy from their working benches at home.

This sensation of being in the Montblanc manufacture is completed by macroscopic photos which transform the beauty and the meticulous detail of the hand crafted movements into huge works of art. Other images serve as "windows" opening onto the ateliers, allowing visitors to follow the various stages of the watchmaking process as if they were actually there.

When you step into our booth, you will instantly experience the Maison's universe. To enhance the feeling of being at the very heart of Montblanc’s watchmaking world, master watchmakers demonstrate their skills at an impressive wooden work bench that reflects the round shape of the balance wheel including the spring hanging above it in the centre of the hall. They share their passion for fine watchmaking with the visitors, who are invited to take their seats in order to experience the complexity of Montblanc’s in-house balance wheel production and to carry out some of the meticulous working processes themselves under the guidance of Montblanc’s artisans.

The entire décor of the Montblanc stand is inspired by the aesthetics and architecture of the Villeret manufacture, using natural materials, light colours and soft lighting. Cosy corners, a library and an exhibition of documents and items tracing Montblanc's watchmaking heritage - every detail has been carefully thought through to reflect the spirit at the heart of the manufacture: a deep passion for Fine Watchmaking.

We like our visitors to have a hand-on experience by going through a few actual process in watch making from part of the many complicated process on how precise a fine hand made watch process need going through.

From manufacturing, craftsmanship to international distribution, the passion & emotion in fine watchmaking drives me to a different level especially from the timeless design approach turns into a lifetime companion. The connection with customer also an essential motivation getting the constructive feedback and compliments on our watchmaking. 

The person who wears Montblanc shall be a person who is confident and has a character of substance with a contemporary and urban style. There are people from all walks of life, the connoisseurs, the collectors and etc. They enjoy the quality and contemporary refinement and usually not for a short term enjoyment. They love the history and heritage behind it and have the confident to express what they have or own.

There are a lot of initiation in order to educate the consumers in terms of product knowledge. Even though the product could speak for itself and yet there are other education still need to be given in order for them to appreciate what the brand could provide. Through exhibition and watch fair is part of education implementation to consumers.

The new Metamorphosis II at Watches & Wonders turns the spotlight on one of the most complex movements ever developed and designed in Montblanc’s manufacture workshops in Villeret, revealing the timepiece in a completely new aesthetic.The most striking feature of this new Montblanc timepiece is its "metamorphosis" concept which is driven by a highly complex mechanical movement with 746 components and protected by various patents that took over 4 years in development. It was at SIHH 2010 when Montblanc first introduced connoisseurs to the astounding concept of overlaid dials, which open majestically like a theatre curtain. The aim of this unique complication is to offer a spectacular change of design and function of the timepiece from classic time to chronograph and back using the same movement. A bold, creative and innovative way to combine the characteristics of traditional fine watchmaking with revolutionary principles of innovation. Metamorphosis II is the first timepiece to perform such a capacity for transformation. To master this challenge, the Montblanc master watchmakers took the 156 years of expertise as a chronograph specialist of the Montblanc manufacture in Villeret- the former manufacture Minerva- and borrowed traditional methods from the art of automaton manufacture, an age-old artisanal craft long practised alongside fine watchmaking in the Swiss Jura mountains. Crafted entirely by hand, Metamorphosis II represents the perfect symbiosis of tradition and innovation, and will rightfully  claim its place among the grand complications in the world of fine watchmaking. A skilful alchemy between classical, timeless beauty and sporty elegance, the new aesthetic of the Metamorphosis II enables Montblanc to open up a new chapter in the history of horological design. The functioning principle of the Metamorphosis II is as simple to explain as it is difficult to create : In the classic position, the timepiece displays the classical face of time showing the hours, minutes and date. A slide on the left side of the case is used to transform this elegant, classic indication, by revealing a new face. Additionally, the control device initiates a highly sophisticated mechanical process that transforms the dial with the classical time indication into a chronograph and new function.

The new Montblanc Bohème collection, Montblanc embodies ultra-femininity, independence and sophistication and gives a new expression to its passion for fine watchmaking. Designed for women, the Bohème line combines distinctive style, elegant design and respect for the watchmaking tradition. All the traditional codes of fine watchmaking with a clear feminine expression have transpired into this collection created for contemporary and sophisticated women with authentic and strong personality. It is rare for a watch to express the grand complications of fine watchmaking in such a feminine way: beyond its aesthetic beauty, the Montblanc Bohème collection, with its self-winding calibre, date or perpetual calendar, welcomes women to fine watchmaking who want to express their femininity in the true Bohème spirit. Aattaining their unique character through a refined attention to detail that enriches the codes of fine watchmaking with superb elegance and femininity. The floral Arabic numerals with their sensuous curves are discreetly raised by a minute scale displaying the beautiful character of a “filet sauté”. The finely guilloché 60 or 90-facet or diamond paved dial serves as a backdrop to the race of the hours and the minutes. The leaf-shaped hands assert their blued or their red gold profusion with strength and refinement. With the simple elegance of its case with a diameter of 30 or 36 mm, and its delicately curved, bevelled horns, in red gold or stainless steel, the Montblanc Bohème collection bears the hallmark of authenticity. This classic elegance can be enhanced individually by choosing diamonds for the bezel or the mother-of-pearl dial and by selecting a leather or stainless steel wristband. In addition, the contemporary Bohème lady can express her passion for fine watchmaking by wearing a grand complication timepiece.

Nicolas Rieussec’s first patented chronograph from 1821 inspired the watchmakers at Montblanc to create the Nicolas Rieussec watch collection with manufacture movements and distinctive styling. The timepiece’s unmistakable appearance combines an off-centre hour-circle in the upper part of the dial and the chronograph’s elapsed-time displays in the lower portion of the face. As on the original from 1821, elapsed time is shown on two rotating discs, above each of which a motionless hand indicates the passing seconds and minutes. Nicolas Rieussec, watchmaker to the French royal court, invented this construction to precisely measure the running times of individual horses at a horserace. When the starting gun was fired at the track, the patented “ink chronograph” was set in motion so that two white enamelled discs began to turn: one disc was calibrated for 60 elapsed seconds, the other for 30 elapsed minutes. The user pressed a button each time a horse crossed the finish line: this pressure momentarily lowered an elongated rhombic carrier with two ink-filled tips onto the enamel discs, where each tip left a droplet of ink. These inky markings on the scales of the chronograph’s discs enabled the user to read the exact running time of each horse. Rieussec’s device was literally a “time writer,” so he accordingly named it a “chronograph” from the Greek words “chronos” (time) and “graphein” (to write). In 1822, the Académie des Sciences in Paris granted a patent on this device to Nicolas Rieussec, who went down in horological history as the inventor of the world’s first patented chronograph. In 2014, Montblanc pays tribute to this great watchmaker with a new interpretation of his chronograph from 1821. The Montblanc “Homage to Nicolas Rieussec Special Edition” chronograph faithfully replicates every detail of the colour scheme and the styling of the hands as they appeared on the original “time writer”, but relies on innovative materials and technologies to transport the historical device into our contemporary day and age. The new “Homage to Nicolas Rieussec Special Edition” chronograph from the Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec collection shows the date, indicates the time in two different time zones and also offers a day/night display. The timepiece will be manufactured in limited editions in red gold and steel.

In 1924 Montblanc designed a revolutionary writing instrument that was to become iconic in the art of writing. Thanks to a design as elegant as it is functional, an innovative ink supply system and a hand-decorated gold nib, Montblanc’s Meisterstück has become one of the greatest design legends of our time. For 90 years it has been the embodiment of excellence - the result of marrying artistic craftsmanship and the very best technology. A perfect symbiosis of tradition and innovation, the high standards and quality values set by the Montblanc Meisterstück now stretch far beyond the art of writing. On its 90th anniversary, this great symbol of the Montblanc spirit has inspired a new collection of watches: the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage line. Now these refined timepieces, fitted with mechanical movements created in the Montblanc manufactures of Villeret and Locle in the heart of the Swiss Jura, also bear the legendary name of Meisterstück.The inspiration for the entire Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage collection is drawn from the history of this legendary fountain pen, and its legacy can be seen in classic watches with functional complications and wonderful decorations. Down to the very last detail, these remarkable timepieces transpose the spirit of  the Montblanc Meisterstück into the heart of traditional fine Swiss watchmaking. Born almost a century ago, the Meisterstück is now enjoying a new lease of life through the Meisterstück Heritage collection.

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