History of Montblanc Watches

Everyone can leave a mark in history, but it is the indelible mark left by watchmakers whose legacy is certain to go on forever that really matter. Montblanc is one of the industry’s greatest at what it does best – manufacturing high-quality instruments that serve a great purpose on the wrist. Here is the story of Montblanc and the markings it has made throughout the course of 165 years.

The story of Montblanc, though not by the name we now know it, began in 1858 with a man named Charles-Yvan Robert, who, without knowing it, began the historic Minerva era. By the 1880s, Minerva was known for its reputation for crafting precise pocket watches that could be wound by the crown. The days of the winding key were now a distant memory and the focus was now on uncompromised precision.

Minerva’s success as a manufacturer of professional pocket watches and stopwatches really accelerated with the introduction of the 1916 Monopusher chronograph. The watch boasted a stopwatch function that was accurate to 1/100th of a second. Minerva then released the Calibre 13.20, which fitted inside the company’s first wristwatches. It would take a further ten years for the company to produce the legendary Calibre 17.29 – the slimmest Monopusher chronograph movement of them all, measuring just 5.6mm in height.

Today, Minerva serves as the atelier for Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret, where it remains abuzz with carefully crafted instruments and handmade designs. It is one of the very few manufacturers in the world with the know-how to produce its own balance springs. The timepieces you see here within our collections at Jura Watches today, all link back to the 160-year journey that Montblanc made from the year 1858. Each timepiece nods to the past in its very own special way.

Montblanc, as we know it, was founded in the 1990s. It became part of the Dunhill Group in 1993 and was subsequently taken over by the Richemont Group, which also owns the likes of A. Lange & Söhne, Baume et Mercier, Cartier and IWC Schaffhausen. It became an official watch brand in 1997 with the release of the Meisterstuck, which echoed the designs of its already well-established line of Meisterstuck writing instruments. The facilities for crafting these modern wristwatches were located in Le Locle but when the brand realised it was outgrowing its production site, a decision was made to create an additional floor space below the Le Locle villa.

The Montblanc Timewalker collection was then launched in 2003 and was loved for its sporty design with bold Bauhaus-style numerals and indexes. The line later extended with more complex designs, such as tourbillons and perpetual calendars. Richemont Group then decided to acquire the Minerva facilities in 2006. The Fabrique d’Horlogerie Minerva SA became a subsidiary of Montblanc, where it resides today. The first Minerva watches to be produced under the Montblanc name were named the Villeret timepieces. These high-end complicated watches nod to the Minerva heritage with meticulous hand finishes that pay homage to one hundred years of expert watchmaking.

Today Montblanc is home to some expertly crafted travel watches, as well as adventure tools and sports watches. As well as popular models like the Heritage, Tradition and Star Legacy lines, the company has specialised in models like the Montblanc 1858, with timepieces like the Iced Sea models, primed for explorers of the world. Lastly, Montblanc also offers the more elegant Boheme watch collection. These models, more intricately executed, boast moonphase complications and a range of luxurious materials that harness the brand’s more refined and artistic side of watchmaking.