In the municipality of Villeret, Switzerland, there once stood a small, exclusive fine mechanical watchmaker named Minerva, known for being ahead of its time, producing stopwatches that could measure 1/5th of a second as early as 1911 and, by the 1930s, 1/100th of a second, putting it on the map as the specialist of professional chronograph watches and stopwatches, such as the Rally Timer, a stopwatch created to time motor-races with precision.
In 2007, in an effort to further enhance its watchmaking expertise, Montblanc incorporated the small workshop into its assets and established the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie at Villeret, adding a second manufacture to its watchmaking facilities (the first being in Le Locle) while perpetuating the rich tradition of Minerva.
The new Montblanc TimeWalker collection combines the legendary timing instruments of the past with the spirit of motor racing, encapsulating the Minerva heritage, advanced technology, masculine energy, superior performance and the style of the glory days of racing.
The results are evocative, vintage-themed though contemporary, and designed for modern performers who like to express their achievements, ambitions, masculinity, style and personality in their choice of wristwatch. Perfect for both business and leisure, the new Montblanc TimeWalker timepieces command respect and admiration and underline the confidence of those who wear them.
The new TimeWalker is carrying on the Minerva legacy with its ground-breaking 1/1000th-of-a-second chronograph. Presented in a standard 43mm case in a variety of materials including high-tech ceramic, stainless steel, titanium and rubber, the new TimeWalker boasts aesthetic codes directly rooted in the world of racing – satin finishing and semi-skeletonised horns with architecturally carved flanks, all inspired by the aerodynamic lines of the bodywork of classic cars.
Iconic details include crowns and pushers reminiscent of vintage car caps; smoked glass case backs inspired by the glass windows that reveal sporty V12 engines; and strap holes that pay tribute to vintage leather racing gloves. Clear legibility and visibility are achieved with strong contrasts of colour, three-dimensional counters inspired by vintage dashboards, precise scales and dauphine-shaped hands with SuperLuminova. For utmost precision, most of the TimeWalker timepieces feature an iconic central seconds hand coated in red with the tip crafted in the shape of the Minerva arrow.
In order to guarantee the reliability of such a sporty professional product line, all the TimeWalker models undergo over 500 hours quality control, with specific testing and general operating evaluation under extreme conditions.
To convey a true sense of the 2017 TimeWalker, Montblanc launched the campaign #InspiredByPerformance, starring its global brand ambassador, the Tony Award-winning Hugh Jackman. One of the most prolific artists of our time, Jackman is a master of many trades capable of acting, both in film and live on stage, singing, dancing, modelling and hosting shows including the 81st Academy Awards and four of the Tony Awards, not to mention, in a variety of genres, from romance (Kate & Leopold) to action-fantasy (Van Helsing); mystery-thriller (The Prestige) to epic drama (The Fountain, Australia and Les Miserables).
When it comes to performance, Jackman is one who takes it to the limit, playing every character to great effect, making every role a spectacle. For his Oscar-nominated role, Jean Valjean, in the film adaptation of Les Miserables, the Australian thespian lost approximately 15 pounds portraying the former convict only to regain 30 pounds to mirror the character’s newfound success. On Broadway, Jackman mustered all of his energy and buoyancy, sported leopard and tropical prints, plunging necklines, tights and metallic trousers, and sang and gyrated with maximum enthusiasm playing the legendary musician and entertainer Peter Allen in the musical The Boy from Oz. His performance reaped a Tony as well as a Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a musical.
One of the biggest highlights of Jackman’s career is his portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise and solo spin-offs. For his role, which spanned 17 years, ending with Logan this year, Jackman had to endure the ordeal of packing on a great deal of muscle mass, including bench-pressing up to more than 135kg. Logan was launched to critical acclaim and grossed over US$600 million internationally. Come December, Hugh Jackman will be playing the eccentric and larger-than-life PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman.
Inspired by performance, indeed, Jackman is a fine embodiment of the new TimeWalker. In his voice-over is captured the collection’s spirit, “The greater the obstacle, the more we enjoy overcoming it. Because to win without being truly challenged is to win without glory. That’s because it’s at the limits of performance that glory is created. Even the smallest margin, one hundredth of a second, even a thousandth, can be the difference between victory and defeat.”
Of the three Wolverine solo films, Logan has emerged to be the most commercially successful and, based on the ratings and reviews, the most loved. How does it feel to have come this far with the role, grown this close to the character and successfully pulled off your “one last time”?
Honestly, awesome. We worked extremely hard on Logan. I was more involved with the process than I ever have been before. I knew it was my last time playing him so I wanted to make sure I left nothing “on the table”.
Has it ever dawned on you that in playing Wolverine, you have – lived out everyone’s childhood dream of being a superhero; become a screen icon of a character in a long-running franchise along the lines of Sean Connery and Christopher Reeve? How do you feel about that?
Actually, I’m the only actor to play Wolverine so that’s pretty good bragging rights. He’s a hugely complex character. In Logan, we really explored that aspect of him. Of course, there’s the rage but putting him in a car with Charles and Laura brought out a very different side of him.
Most X-Men characters have over the years developed a complex biography made up of events from different timelines and alternate universes. Did you find this a challenge when researching the role and trying to grasp his character?
Given that I played Wolverine for 14 years… I know him very well.
Any advice for the successor to the Wolverine role?
Whomever gets this role next will carve out his, or her, own path.
Having followed your career since your international breakthrough with the first X-Men film, we noticed that, by default, you bring this natural “epic” touch to your work that gives everything you do this charismatic “blockbuster” appeal, be it a romance (Kate & Leopold), mystery/thriller (The Prestige), period drama (Les Miserables); a stage play (The Boy From Oz), hosting the Oscars or an interview on Graham Norton’s show. Where does this pizzazz come from?
Thank you! I love what I do and am blessed to have the opportunities and experiences I have had so far. The other thing is, people don’t realize I got my first feature film in my early 30s. I was married. So I had my best friend by my side to share all the good and the bad.
Speaking of which, we are pleased to learn about your upcoming film The Greatest Showman, inspired by the legendary PT Barnum. While some celebrated his larger-than-life business ventures, many had criticised his outrageous hoaxes and hype-marketing strategies. What do you make of Barnum, and how are your portraying him in this particular film? Do you think you can relate to his flair for show?
Not really. That’s why the role is so intriguing for me. He was the complete opposite of me. In my “real” life, I’m pretty calm and quiet.
What kind of preparation and filming processes did you have to undergo for this role?
A ton! We did many many week of rehearsals and even before that there was a lot of research. For a movie musical it is a massive undertaking. We did workshops with the entire cast and then there’s the dancing and singing … the choreography alone is very intricate. My toes were bleeding! This movie has been seven years in the making. For Michael Gracey, our director, even longer.
It’s said that the film was originally planned to be a straight biopic, but later evolved into a musical. Please give us some insight into the musical elements and style of the film, as well as your input to the story and direction. And how do you think it’s going to be spectacular?
I can’t see this film without the musical numbers. The extraordinarily talented team of Pasek and Paul wrote all of the music. They won the Oscar for LaLa Land and, of course, the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen. The cast is awesome with Zac Efron, Zendaya, Michelle Williams and Keala Settle. Keala has been on Broadway for years. When she sings it will stop you dead in your tracks. Look out for her… she is about to be a major force. There’s a huge supporting cast. The “oddities” from the circus. They are some of the best dancers in the world. I can’t wait for everyone to see!
Do you find that taking on the role of a historical figure such as Barnum adds a lot more pressure to your preparation and performance in view of the extra critical attention it will draw from biographers, familiars and followers of the subject?
For Barnum, we did a huge amount of research and did our best to be respectful to his legacy. Every role has some kind of pressure to get it “right”.
As a Montblanc ambassador, you’ve recently starred in the brand’s latest TimeWalker campaign, “inspired by performance”, which emphasises on heritage, detail and competence against the backdrop of motor-racing. How do you personally relate to these values in terms of your approach to your craft, training, background, etc, seeing that you have undergone both formal education and hard knocks, and proved to go the whole nine yards for your roles?
One of the reasons I enjoy my relationship with Montblanc is their commitment to their craft. I try to commit myself completely to each aspect of my life, not just film. Of course, it’s hard and we have to juggle, but, for example, when I’m home with my family, everything else stops. I want to be present and enjoy each moment. I grew up in a home where a strong work ethic was drilled into us at a very young age. At the time, of course I didn’t like it but looking back. It’s one of the great gifts my dad has given me.
We’ve noticed from your social media that you are quite a fan of the outdoors and adventure. What do you enjoy most about it?
Growing up in Australia… We were always outside. I love being able to take a deep breath and explore. When I tour for a film, we always do things/eat at places where the locals go. It’s an adventure and it helps to really experience the different cultures.
Despite your success, experience and good looks, you continue to be that guy who knows how to laugh at himself. How do you do that?
Laughter is the best medicine!
What do you find most enriching about acting or performing, and of all the roles you’ve played thus far, which have been the ones that moved you the most?
That’s like picking a favourite child! All the roles I have done have enriched my life in one way or the other. Some more than others is the most you’ll get out of me!
What have you planned for the next chapter of your life after The Greatest Showman?
I’m about to do start filming a movie called The Front Runner. It’s the story of Gary Hart. He ran for president of the United States and got caught up in a scandal that ultimately took him out of the running. It’s directed by Jason Reitman who did Up in the Air and many other great films.
* Check out the full spread in our latest issue of MVMT.
FEATURED WATCH: MONTBLANC TIMEWALKER CHRONOGRAPH AUTOMATIC
Continuing the motor racing theme, the new Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic is rooted in the world of racing with details that recall the golden years of motoring with a chronograph function that is legible and stylish for today’s gentlemen drivers. The vintage car codes are visible throughout the watch, starting with the 43mm steel case, satin-finished for an automotive look and better resistance to scratches.
It features the emblematic unidirectional rotating black bezel knurled on the flank and made of shiny high-tech black ceramic for utmost robustness and durability. The bezel can be used as a second time zone indicator. The horns have been semi-skeletonised like the air inlets of a car’s body, and the black DLC crown and chronograph pushers have been knurled like vintage petrol caps for better gripping. Completing the motor racing design, the case back has been fitted with a smoked glass opening, reminiscent of the glass windows that cover powerful V12 engines, and the straps include perforation holes, much like the leather driving gloves used in the days when steering wheels were made of wood and needed to be firmly gripped.
The black dial features three dimensional counters that bring back memories of vintage dashboards. Distinctive design codes include a red chronograph seconds hand in the centre, which has a tip sculpted in the form of the Minerva arrow. All the readings are highly legible thanks to black rhodium-plated dauphine hands injected with SuperLuminova and red markers for the 15-minute marks. The TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic comes with a choice of three different strap options: perforated leather, perforated rubber, and a new performance metal bracelet with three links. For utmost quality and comfort, the rubber strap has been designed with a raised grip pattern on the inner lining to provide better aeration to the skin and improved adhesion to the wrist.
THE TIMEWALKER 2017 FAMILY
Other pieces that make up the latest range of TimeWalker include the TimeWalker Date Automatic, TimeWalker Chronograph UTC and the TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100, available in both wristwatch and stopwatch forms. For more information, visit www.montblanc.com.