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The 500 hours test: Why Montblanc Watchmaking Tries Harder

by Jonathan Ho on May 5, 2017

What does one do if right out the gate, people are dismissive of your watchmaking prowess? You could introduce a Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, you could blow some minds with a Metamorphosis or you could simply do what no other brand does – torture Montblanc watches with your 500 hours test. Today, Montblanc watchmaking is no longer just about safeguarding the future of one of the industries most beloved manufactures (Minerva) but also in working harder than everyone else to prove that your watchmaking prowess isn’t some flash-in-the-pan phenomenon but a trial by fire; For Montblanc, there’s no better challenge than the 500 hours test.

The 500 hours test: Why Montblanc Watchmaking Tries Harder

Covering watches for as long as we have, we have explored the depths of a myriad of watch manufactures, from large names like Omega and Patek Philippe, to even the small indie manufactures, we try to look beyond similar work benches and CNC machines to discover the special properties which make each name in watchmaking a unique experience; when it comes to Montblanc, we are have to take stock of the two disparate histories that have come together – that of their factory in Villeret, home to Minerva and the brand’s horological research facility and Le Locle, the brand’s state of the art home which provides the brand with the commercial resources to innovate and expand the finest traditions of classic watchmaking.

Yet, because Montblanc carries the inertia of decades of luxury penmaking and leathercraft, their watchmaking enterprise is viewed critically because the majority of traditionalists prefer their watchmaking brands to be possessors and protectors of an intangible quality called provenance. Unquestionably, Minerva is the sort of name whispered with reverence and as protectors of centuries of heritage, Montblanc still has to work doubly hard to prove the integrity and robustness of their watches – and thus, to ensure the highest levels of performance and usability of their watches, Montblanc Montre S.A. in Le Locle developed and implemented a comprehensive testing programme to validate the highest quality of every Manufacture Montblanc watch.

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For the owner, the 500 hours test simulates the first year’s lifecycle of a Manufacture Montblanc watch. For the maison, it’s their guarantee of reliability, rate accuracy and longevity. Thus, every Montblanc watch with a Manufacture movement is tested under conditions that emulate the real life environment that the watch will encounter when it is worn. It is in this respect that this robust test arguably outstrips a vaunted example of chronometry like COSC, how often does one test only the movement of their watch? The Montblanc 500 hours test only runs complete watches rather than mere movements – for the brand, it’s important that the watch performs the way it is intended to be delivered to its new master. Therefore complete encased movements with their dials and hands are precisely examined in a dedicated laboratory.The 500 hours test programme consists of several phases, each designed to test for reliability (so that one can always depend on a Montblanc timepiece), precision (so that one is never tardy) and longevity (so that you can cultivate a family treasure), thus, the methods are which the watches are tested, confirm to acknowledged criteria across the industry –

  • Test No. 1 – Winding Performance and Assembly Control (4 hours) – Checks the winding performance of the watch and obviously, the assembly aspect refers to whether the watch was correctly put together
  • Test No. 2 – Continuous accuracy control (80 hours) – More than a perfunctory look at chronometry and accuracy in a few crucial axis, accuracy control at Montblanc monitors precision of the rate in all positions
  • Test No. 3 – Cyclotest (336 hours) – Testing the overall functioning of the watch in a variety of simulated wrist rotational conditions
  • Test No. 4 – General Performance Test (80 hours) – Testing the rate and overall functions like smooth actuation of pushers, chronograph timing accuracy, perpetual calendar functioning etc, in various simulated positions
  • Test No. 5 – Water Tightness (2 hours) – Testing the water resistance in terms of air tightness, submersion and humidity
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Special devices monitor each test. The individual testing methods applied and the duration of the 500 hours testing period make this examination truly special in the watchmaking world. More importantly, it’s not just a few pieces from the collection tested at random but each and every Montblanc watch is tested. This way, the maison can ensure optimal functioning for the first 3 to 5 years of a watch’s life even if it means more costs and expended man hours to achieve this.

Thus we can conclude that Montblanc tries harder not just because they have something to prove to watch cognoscenti but also, Montblanc CEO Jerome Lambert has also referred to Montblanc as makers of lifetime companions. By testing every Montblanc Manufacture timepiece for almost three weeks, Montblanc seeks to ascertain the outstanding quality and reliability for a lifetime indeed.

The small minute tourbillon cage is the centre piece of the dial, seen here with nicely chamfered bridges.

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4 Comments
Leave a response
  • Just another stranger on the web
    May 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Why are so many comments on watch sites so very bitchy? Quality control “hardly original”?
    Grow up.

  • Grey
    May 9, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Montblanc trying to protect JLC’s heritage?

  • michael
    May 5, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Jerome Lambert who came over from JLC, obviously brought a scaled version of their 1000hrs. control for use at Montblanc. I see quite a bit of JLC design language carried over as well in several references. Montblanc can be seen as a ‘JLC light’ if you will.

  • Stephen
    May 5, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Didn’t Montblanc kinda copied JLC’s 1000 hours control? This is hardly original.

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