There’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a Montblanc timepiece. So we thought, who better to take us through what goes on behind the scenes, than the Managing Director of Montblanc’s Watch Division himself. In today’s interview feature, Davide Cerrato is our man of the hour. Read on as Cerrato, talks to us about his strategy and motives behind his latest direction for the brand.
In today’s competitive world of watchmaking, how do you take a brand like Montblanc into the future?
First step is creating the watchmaking legitimacy necessary to be considered a solid player in the market and a good choice for customers. Second finding few hero products that become the reference for everyone when thinking about Montblanc’s watch offer. Third building memorable retail experiences as much as after sale one which implies also having great product quality.
Would you say that ‘heritage’ is overrated in the world of horology?
I would say that having a real unique heritage in the world of watchmaking is becoming more and more important and knowing of to make it live inside your product and your brand identity is becoming a key differentiating asset.
What are you most inspired by and how would you describe your creative direction?
I am a very curious person by nature which means that inspiration comes from every direction and all time. For example, when I travel and wake up at night completely jet lagged. This weird state of mind has often brought bright ideas. I’m also very energetic and in this sense coming out with new ideas is almost every day.
How do you approach a new watch design?
Always starting from a concept; a narrative to refer to and that inspires the overall concept as much as it nurtures many details. It’s an iterative process where you start from a strong concept and play with it finding more and more shades. When the process starts it is nurtured almost every day by intuitions about colors, materials, shapes, details that enrich it to the end. Very often ideas are parked in the side of the mind waiting for a good opportunity to take shape and then intuitively everything comes together like a puzzle.
Form follows function or function follows form?
I’m more in favour of Form follows Function and I think that in this sense the concept of a tool watch is a perfect example. Not only Form follows Function but also technical content follows Function. For a tool watch like the Geosphere, the unique display of the time zone function, as much as it’s easy to read, it is an integral part of the concept of the watch as much as it’s vintage world map on the hemispheres and it’s turning bezel with cardinal point to orienteer.
The Montblanc 1858 Collection – Why did you go with a vintage look for this collection?
We are now creating strong links in our product lines with the history of Minerva and also looking back to our museum to take inspirations. In the case of the 1858 product line we are looking back to the Minerva military timepieces from the ‘30ies and 40’ies. The design of these watches was very much that of a tool watch and we are using it now with a contemporary contamination to express the perfect exploration watch. The characteristics of readability, robustness and reliability of military watches are perfect to create the ultimate tool watch and to support outdoor adventures. On the aesthetic side it provides a perfect vintage look which fits very much with the fact that modern adventure tools are also aesthetically refined with very powerful designs.
Could you tell us a little more about the use of Bronze?
Bronze is a very interesting material because it changes its appearance over time and it does it in a unique way for each client depending on the clients lifestyle and the place where he / she lives. In this sense it’s also the perfect outdoor adventure/exploration material because it shapes its look according to the environment just like all elements in nature. The distressed look of the material provides a tool watch an empowered vintage look. As always when we innovate at Montblanc we push boundaries and here we do not just use any bronze but a very technical alloy of bronze enriched with aluminium that gets a very nice homogeneous patina and reduces any allergy issue. We are also the first to have matched bronze with steel to provide a unique bi-color bi-material look.
The new 1858 Geosphere introduced at the SIHH earlier this year generated a lot of buzz. Could you take us through the characteristic details of this timepiece?
With utmost pleasure. Geosphere is for us a very important timepiece as it’s very quickly becoming an icon in Montblanc watchmaking. It is the perfect tool watch to bring with you when you adventure outdoor and experience the wild side of nature. To provide the watch a very functional purpose we have developed a new movement in house to give you a double time zone very important when you travel (local time + home time) but also a look to all other time zone with a very simple way of reading time. It also has 2 turning hemispheres with vintage maps painted by hand with super luminova. This creates a one of a kind look and a fresh approach to a travel watch. On top of this you also have a bi-rotatable turning bezel with ceramic inserts with cardinal points that allows you to orienteer if you get lost in the wild. The watch can be equipped with a high end and unique functional nato strap or a aged calf leather strap with vintage stitching or with a aged calf bund strap. The Geosphere is available in steel or in a limited edition full bronze case and is waterproof to 100 meters. Hidden on the map is a story. 7 red dots to show the 7 Summits hiking challenge. Engraved on the case back are the names of these 7 peaks. The power of the design is simple: You bring all these worlds with you when you go adventure outdoor but also when you go to work in a metropolitan environment to keep a link with nature, bringing out the true adventurer in you.
Why is adventure/exploration so important for Montblanc?
I have never seen any watch brand defining mountain exploration or outdoor adventure, performance, or reliability, the way Montblanc defines it. All this supported by 160 years of history of Minerva in the quest to measure time and sport performances with counters and stop watches is very unique and very functional. This territory is also quite unique and not very much explored in watchmaking, which means that it will be associated with Montblanc in a very powerful way. Adventure/exploration is also very relevant for people around the world in search of a new link with nature and of themselves. Montblanc and this quest for authenticity are definitely the perfect match. On a side note, I enjoy Fly Fishing and found a quote that speaks very much to me, expressing this crucial point very well: “I never go to rivers to kill trout. I go to unkill parts of myself that otherwise might die.” Nick Lyons 1074