Montblanc has updated its worldtimer watch, the Orbis Terrarum for 2020. An important timepiece in the evolution of the German luxury brand’s watchmaking division, the Orbis Terrarum first introduced in 2014 as part of the Meisterstück Heritage collection. The watch has now been redesigned to slip into Montblanc’s more formal Star Legacy range.
The worldtimer function is the most relevant feature of the modern mechanical watch. Swiss watchmaker Louis Cottier is credited with inventing this mechanism in 1931 that allowed for the display of time in the 24 major time zones on the dial of a watch. A classic worldtimer has an internal bezel displaying 24 cities (each representing a major time zone) and a disc that has a 24-hour numerical marking.
Cottier’s mechanism (or complication as is known in watchmaking) was recognized by prominent watchmakers of the day and brands like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin have produced worldtimers that either used his mechanism or movements that were based on the Cottier system. Needlessly to say, most of these watches are priced out of the reach of the average watch enthusiast. It’s hardly any surprise that the first Montblanc Orbis Terrarum that came along in 2014 and was a huge hit – at just under $6,000, this was a proper value proposition.
The Star Legacy collection takes its design cues from the 19th century pocket watches made by Minerva, an artisanal watch company now part of Montblanc. Some of the common design flourishes of this collection – pebble-like cases, leaf-shaped hands, big onion crowns, and a radiating guilloché pattern on the dial – are now see on the new Orbis Terrarum. There are two variants of the new Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum, one in a steel case and blue colorway, the other in rose-gold with a palette of light and dark browns. Both cases have the same diameter at 43 mm and thickness of 13.84 mm.
Much of the Orbis Terrarum’s charms are down to the dial, which depict a view of the Northern Hemisphere as seen from above the North Pole on a world map. The dial features a ring with with 24 world cities representing the 24 time zones, and a 24-hour numerical scale with a clear demarcation for day and night time (light and dark blue, respectively on the steel model, and light to dark brown, respectively, on the gold watch).
The new dial was redesigned in the interest of better visibility. The top most of the dial’s two overlapping discs, is made from partially transparent sapphire with rhodium or rose gold metallic coating (depending on the model) to form the continents and meridian lines. Beneath this layer is the “day and night” disc that changes from light to dark (in blue or brown) as day turns to night across each of the world’s time zones. At its centre is a radiating guilloché pattern that lends the ocean areas a wavy 3D motif.
Montblanc’s self-winding Caliber MB29.20 is notable for its ease of use. The pusher at 8 o’clock moves the city ring around the dial; the local time zone is denoted by the red triangle at 6 o’clock that you can adjust by pulling out the crown. As you do so, the remaining 23 time zones around the dial will follow suit. Once the time for a particular city has been accurately set, it is simple to adjust the time zone when traveling by simply pressing the pusher at 8 o’clock to shift the local time in one-hour increments. The city ring, day-night-scale, and the polar-view dial map move in sync now.
Both versions of the Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum are paired with color-coordinated Sfumato leather straps made at Montblanc’s own leather atelier in Florence, Italy. While the stainless steel model is priced at $6,800 (Approx. Dh24,973), the rose gold version is a more exclusive 500 piece limited edition priced at $20,800 (Dh76,388).