Released early in 2020, the Montblanc Heritage Small Second is a very special and rare watch, limited to just 38 pieces. Powered by a historically significant pre-Richemont Minerva movement, the watch is limited to only 38 pieces as that was all the movements Montblanc found in the Minvera archives. While known for their fountain pens and leather goods, Montblanc has been stepping up their horological offering in recent years and the Heritage Small Second is emblematic of that.
Founded in 1868 and absorbed into Montblanc following Richemont’s acquisition of the movement maker in 2006, Minerva was historically known for their premier in-house chronographs and stopwatch movements. Mind you, the big houses such as Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet didn’t even have their own in-house chronograph movements at the time- a testament to the pedigree of Minerva.
What you see here today is not only one of the finest watches to come out of Mont Blanc, but one of the best finished time-only pieces in the industry. With a gorgeous salmon-colored lacquered dial, there are amazing textures going on with a grain-finished hour ring that disrupts the underlying sunburst finish. There is a small mark in between 3 and 4 o’clock that states ‘Minerva’, reminding you that this isn’t your ordinary Mont Blanc.
With lightly-painted Super-LumiNova on its applied numerals, the 38 Heritage Small Seconds combines the functional aspects we have come to appreciate in modern horology with the classic sizing of a dress watch, coming in at 39mm in diameter and just 9.5mm thick.
While I absolutely love the salmon dial, the magic really begins when you flip the watch over, revealing the stunningly finished Minerva manually-wound movement. With thick bevelling and the classic ‘devil’s tail’, I would say that this finishing eclipses that of Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe.
While Montblanc today does create some more commercially available timepieces, their Minerva-based Villeret-made timepieces are known for impeccable finishing and hand-assembly and cannot be considered to be under the same umbrella. This is truly a great watch.