Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim review
You always want what you don’t have, right? Well, I had built up a collection of oversized divers and pilots, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would begin to crave a slim dressy timepiece. Watch collecting is a journey — like life. You evolve along the way. My tastes have certainly evolved over the past year.
I have always been a fan of Montblanc timepieces and I once owned a rather beat-up Timewalker. From what I have read, Montblanc invested heavily into their watchmaking facilities in the late 1990’s and they have since introduced some awesome timepieces. I discovered their Heritage Chronométrie series last fall while browsing watches online and then I came across an advertisement segment in a magazine around the same time. I was immediately drawn to the Ultra Slim 38mm manually wound model. This model just seemed… beautiful. Of all the dressy “formal” timepieces I had looked at over the years, this Montblanc was the one that made me say, “Yes!” At last, here was a dressy timepiece that captured my attention.
The beauty of the Ultra Slim is its simplicity: 4 cardinal numerals (with a gorgeous modern font), stick indices, all silver look on black alligator leather. And… the absence of a seconds hand and date window. Now this was appealing to me. You see, if you have a dressy, formal, silver-on-black timepieces, you will wear it for weddings, galas, cocktails, black tie events, and with certain business outfits. But you won’t wear it every day or even every week. So you will want the piece to be easy to set and go. With this Montblanc, you grab it, wind it about 30 times, set the time to the nearest minute, and go. No date to set. No seconds hand to synchronize to your watch. Brilliant. Perfect for occasional use.
My main concern with the Ultra Slim was the 38 mm size. I have large wrists and many 44 mm timepieces look small on me, so I doubted whether I could pull off a 38 mm slim piece. I set out to find a Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim to try on. I found one while Christmas shopping and I was really shocked at how it fit. I am wearing mine now as I write this and it fills my wrist beautifully. The size looks and feels ideal. This piece really proves that the right size for a timepiece depends on the style of the piece. Another pleasant surprise was the MSRP of $2455, which was lower (at the time) than I had read online. At this point, I knew that I had a superb target and that I could really use this piece for all of my formal events. A couple of months later, I was wearing my very own Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim.
For sure, this Montblanc is a departure from my enormous sports-oriented watches. It is certainly more appropriate for my typical business attire, however. As you would imagine, this 5.8 mm ultra slim piece feels much different to a 16mm thick racing chronograph. The obvious advantages are that it fits under any shirt cuff and wears very comfortably (you don’t feel it at all on your wrist). The leather strap is made in Italy by Montblanc and feels very rich, if a bit tiny. The overall feel of quality is remarkable — especially when you consider the price. It has a quiet confidence.
Let’s talk about the movement. The Ultra Slim uses a movement that has been around since 1971. It may not be modern, but it is elegant and competent. And thin. It provides over 40 hours of power reserve (I have tested it) and runs accurately, although you cannot measure this easily without a seconds hand. What the movement does for me is provide a satisfying timekeeping experience. As I wear the Montblanc to functions and meetings, it reassures me that I am wearing a proper mechanical movement in a beautifully made case. If I need to remind myself of this, I can look at the back of the piece and see the gorgeous (tiny) movement. While being discreet and elegant, the Ultra Slim still manages to provide that all-important joy of wearing a mechanical device on your wrist. As I said earlier, this is really the movement that I always wanted for a formal piece.
Now let’s discuss the dial, which is a key highlight for me. While it is very simple, the silver-on-silver look and the sunburst finish on the dial just scream quality. This is a good thing in a small package. Ditto for the buckle. It is simple and elegant. The use of a tang buckle, as opposed to a deployment buckle, is a nice choice — it adds more of a vintage feel to the piece.
With a $2K price tag, you cannot really call it “stealth wealth”, but you could call it “stealth excellence”.
At 38 mm, this Montblanc Ultra Slim has a powerful presence on the wrist. A 44 mm diver also has wrist presence and can be worn with a business suit, of course. But the Ultra Slim has more of a timeless feel on the wrist. Whether it is 1956, 2016 or 2026, you can be pretty sure that a 38 mm slim dress piece will look good in the boardroom or on the podium of an awards ceremony. It does not advertise its presence with a huge case or a blingy bracelet. But its simple, elegant and competent engine provides tons of confidence as you deliver your speech or sales presentation. And its subtle beauty really complements the right suit. With a $2K price tag, you cannot really call it “stealth wealth”, but you could call it “stealth excellence”.
So, is TimeCaptain going dressy? It would certainly seem that way if you read my last review! The Montblanc seemed to come along at the just the right time. As I wanted to build my portfolio of dressy, elegant, formal timepieces for business functions, the Montblanc appeared with the ideal movement, features and style — at a good price. I do not plan to wear the Ultra Slim all the time, but I will wear it regularly. Therefore, this piece will complement my collection. I may wear automatic pieces with a date on a more daily basis while winding up the Montblanc for the right outfit. I cannot see myself wearing it with casual shirts or sweaters. The Montblanc will definitely be my go-to piece for any fancy evenings.
One measure of how much you enjoy a timepiece is how long you stare at it. As I have been sporting my Montblanc, I have been walking around with my left arm held up in front of my face… because I am constantly staring at the piece on my wrist! And you can wear the Ultra Slim very confidently to meetings because you know that it is SO appropriate for a business suit, as opposed to your huge diver on its rubber strap. Yes, TimeCaptain is certainly on a dressy thing right now. If the Ultra Slim is too simple for you, then check out the rest of the Heritage Chronométrie catalogue. There is an automatic version with a date as well as some other pieces. As always, the fun is in the search…
Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim
Calibre MB 23.01
Type of movement: Mechanical movement with manual winding
Number of jewels: 17
Power reserve: Approx. 42 hours
Balance: Flat hoop
Frequency: 21,600 vib./h (3 Hz)
Displays: Hours, minutes
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Scratch-resistant, flat and anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Dimensions: Diameter = 38 mm; Height = 5.8 mm
Water resistance: 3 bar
Crown: Stainless steel with Montblanc emblem in relief
Dial: Silvery-white coloured dial, facetted hour indexes and Arabic numerals as rhodium-plated appliqués, rhodium-plated faceted sword hour and minute hands
Strap: Black alligator-skin strap crafted in the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence with stainless steel pin buckle
Price: $2,455 CAD
Also available in 18k red gold version.