Unleashing the Spirit of Mont Blanc: A Conversation with Montblanc’s Laurent Lecamp
We recently spoke to the dynamic Managing Director of Montblanc’s Watch Division, Laurent Lecamp, and leaving absolutely nothing to chance, Lecamp connects the dots between Montblanc’s heritage and its products so that you will never walk away unconvinced about the brand’s place on the watchmaking map.
As we sat down for our conversation, Laurent Lecamp began by recounting a tale of five frogs determined to conquer a towering mountain:
As the frogs climbed, naysayers surrounded them shouting that no one had ever managed to scale this peak, and they would surely fail. Yet, despite the discouragement, one frog refused to be deterred. Ignoring the skeptical voices, it pressed on, undeterred by doubt and unyielding in its pursuit of the summit. And with every step, the little frog defied expectations and silenced the disbelievers.
Eventually, the determined frog reached the pinnacle, prompting the other frogs to swarm around, eager to learn the secret of its extraordinary achievement. It was then revealed that the champion frog was deaf so it could not hear the discouraging cries, and thus, the key to its success was shutting out the noise and following its own path.
This allegorical tale is a powerful metaphor for Montblanc’s Watch Division approach under Lecamp’s leadership because just as the little frog was deaf to the skeptics, Montblanc chooses to ignore those who attempt to pigeonhole the brand, preferring instead to redefine its identity.
So, it is fitting that Lecamp’s vision for Montblanc is akin to glaciers, mighty mountains, and the indomitable spirit of mountaineer Reinhold Messner, as these iconic symbols represent the brand’s ability to continuously push beyond others’ preconceived limits of its capabilities. And as a table adorned with a vast array of Montblanc timepieces sits before me, something catches my eye – the Star Legacy Grey Capsule collection, a trio of pusher-less chronographs that challenges traditional design.
Star Legacy Grey Capsule
The new Star Legacy Grey Capsule watch comes in two sizes, 39mm and 42mm, and has garnered significant attention with its dressy aesthetic. What is the inspiration behind this collection, and, as a trio of dress watches, what is its significance within the Montblanc lineup?
“Reflecting on my journey with Montblanc over the past two and a half years, I recall being captivated by the brand’s iconic logo – a representation of the Mont Blanc peak and the six surrounding glaciers. It was during this period that we embarked on the launch of a new collection, including the Iced Sea and 0 Oxygen models, both inspired by the majestic glaciers. Now, with the Star Legacy, we delve even deeper into the realm of glacial beauty,” explained Lecamp.
The significance of the Star Legacy collection is multi-fold. Firstly, to pay homage to Jacques Balmat’s historic ascent of Mont Blanc in 1686, Montblanc has limited each of the three new timepieces to only 1,686 pieces. Secondly, the brand sought to honor the brand’s roots by using the exact shade of gray on the dial as is on the unstable southern face of Mont Blanc, where snow struggles to cling to the rugged rocks due to the sheer verticality.
Going deeper into history, it is intriguing to note that Jacques Balmat was, actually, searching for gold within the Mont Blanc massif, rather than aiming for a summit in 1686. “We decided to delve deeper into this fascinating narrative and to incorporate golden numerals and hands in the design,” continued Laurent.
Finally, the centerpiece of the dial showcases a distinctive pattern meticulously recreated from an actual photograph of the Chamonix glacier and etched onto the surface. To pay tribute to Minerva’s rich heritage, the onion crown harks back to the early days of Minerva pocket watches.
“Montblanc is Minerva, Minerva is Montblanc”
Over the course of our conversation, Laurent made one axiom clear above all others: “Montblanc is Minerva, Minerva is Montblanc.” And it is the foundation upon which the current approach for the whole watchmaking team rests.
The small town of Villeret in the Swiss Jura is a world of details, according to Lecamp, Montblanc aims to live up to those standards: “What is important is that we want to work with the highest expectations. So Villeret is a clear inspiration for everything.”
And with that, our conversation turned to something completely new: the Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva featuring an innovative new chronograph function that defies convention and has no fewer than three patents pending.
Pusher-less Chronographs: The Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva
Departing from the customary pushers, the ingenious chronograph function of the new Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva is activated with a mere touch of its distinctive, unidirectional fluted bezel. A second touch effortlessly halts the chronograph’s measurement, while a third touch initiates a seamless reset, redefining the very essence of this iconic timekeeping feature. (Side Note: I personally found it so cool that I honestly think I could have played around with it for hours.)
Visible via the transparent caseback, you will find a manual-winding MB M13.21 calibre assembled by a single watchmaker, which means that, in theory, a customer could have a personal encounter with the watchmaker who made their timepiece and ask them whatever questions.
The Montblanc Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva has two limited editions. The first, available for $40,500, comes in a stainless steel case with an 18K white gold bezel, blue dial, and red accents. This model is limited to 100 pieces, which refers to the 100th anniversary of the Calibre 13.20. The second limited edition, available for $54,000, has an 18-karat lime gold case and bezel, features a dark green dial, and comes in a more exclusive limited edition of 28 pieces.
Having spoken to many stakeholders in the industry throughout my career, I know how rare it is for brands to have a clear roadmap for the next 3-5 years in terms of product development and launches. So, what surprised me the most about this interview was learning that, thanks to Lecamp’s meticulous nature, Montblanc is one of them.
What does that mean? Well, as it was explained to me by the young Managing Director, Montblanc’s innovations will, going forward, revolve around the art of storytelling and emotional connections that enhance the overall ownership experience for customers. It also means the brand is committed to the longevity of its product.
In terms of design inspiration, it seems that Montblanc will remain firmly connected to its glaciers, continuing to focus on leveraging their natural beauty and infusing its timepieces with a sense of the glaciers’ wonder, elegance, and timeless allure.
For more information about the brand, visit the Montblanc website.