There are precision, shock- and water-resistant tests, and there is the Montblanc 500 Hours quality test. The gruelling quality check now covers all Montblanc timepieces powered by in-house movements.
That said, the 500 Hours Test is not just a movement quality check. It covers the functionality and performance of the entire watch, simulating “real-life situations” in a controlled environment that “recreates as closely as possible the environment that the watch will encounter when it is worn”.
Think of it as a horological boot camp, in which any Montblanc watch will emerge from its factories ripped and ready for action. Let’s look at the blows the timepieces will have to take before they reach your wrist.
Wind And Bind
In this four-hour test, a fully wound watch is placed inside a ‘Chappuis’ machine, a contraption designed to shake and rotate the life out of any under-performing timepieces. The tightness of screws, from the case to the movement, will be shaken to their core, while the powerful rotating motion of the machine mimics how the watch will move on the wrist – albeit in a more extreme manner.
Survivor #1: Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie Exo Rattrapante
For 80 hours, the watch is tested continuously for its rate accuracy in all positions. And we mean ALL positions, with the crown facing left, right, down and up, as well as horizontally and vertically. The watch performs its acrobatics in a machine called ‘FEMTO’, which is wired with highly sensitive microphones to pick up any discrepancy in the way the different parts of the escapement sounds while in operation.
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This is the Big Kahuna, the test that takes the longest and is engineered to ensure that the additional features of the watch are in fighting fit condition. It is called the ‘Cyclo’ test (or psycho, if the watches could talk), and it simulates the conditions of everyday wear, from the different positions that the watch will be worn using a controlled rotary motion, to the constant activation of all components, whether the chronograph mechanism or power reserve cycle. The time taken? 336 hours.
Survivor #2: Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter
Can your Montblanc watch perform as well in near-freezing temperature as it does in melting heat? How long can the chronograph pushers last, and how much force can they withstand? This series of nitty gritty quality tests – performed over 80 hours to simulate four years of functionality – to ensure general overall performance involves some unimaginable simulations, such as placing the watch in a temperature controlled oven, or having workers wind the crown of a perpetual calendar, hour by hour, to ensure that all the dates are working in tandem.
Survivor #3: Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph UTC
This is not your usual soak-in-the-tub do. To ensure that the sapphire crystal is tightly in place, the watch is placed on a hotplate that is heated to 45 degree Celsius, then immediately sprinkled with cold water to see if the watch fogs up. After this, the watch is submerged in water, in a pressurised environment to simulate a depth of 30 meters to check for water resistance. This two-hour test caps the arduous 500 Hours.