By Nancy Olson
Storytelling and imagery are important players in communication, creating connection, emotion and, as a result, remembrance.
Watches and Wonders 2023 in Geneva was rife with stories, often told most dramatically by the watch brands’ respective exhibit space. From the fantasy of jewels at Van Cleef & Arpels to A. Lange & Sohne’s Odysseus Chronograph, there was a lot to take in and even more to inspire.
Walking into the Montblanc booth, for example, was like entering a mountain landscape, where shades of gray, white and wood conjured the primary palette and motif of this year’s watch debuts. The bold imagery also served as a link between the art of writing—Montblanc’s foundation in pens since 1906—time, and the theme of exploration. And owing to the brand’s reputation in handcrafting its pen points, the centerpiece was a dramatic oversize Montblanc nib pendulum, which uninterruptedly drew mountain scenes on a round canvas suggestive of a watch dial.
Montblanc’s Managing Director Watch Division Laurent Lecamp emphasized the importance of imagery and storytelling to share important themes. “Story is the soul of the world of Montblanc,” he explained to me during our recent interview. Thus the company often engages high-profile individuals, fans of the brand, to help recount the narrative.
Reinhold Messner and Nimsdai Purja, mountaineers and Montblanc “Mark-Makers,” inspired Montblanc’s intricate art-inspired booth space, as well as the new watches in the collection. Even the walls told a tale, incorporating the men’s words taken from their written accounts of climbing expeditions.
Following suit, the 1858 Zero Oxygen The 8000 watch collection on display for the first time revealed colors that recall the rock and ice found at high altitudes, made using zero oxygen technology.
All four of the Montblanc 1858 Zero Oxygen 8000 Capsule Collection debuts join Montblanc’s Zero Oxygen series. The collection’s timepieces boast zero oxygen inside their cases to not only eliminate fogging, but also to prevent oxidization.
Taking the imagery one step further, the very beautiful and complex Montblanc Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph, while not specifically among the 8000 Capsule Collection models, nonetheless displays a distressed steel case created partly by tumbling and brushing the metal with quartzite straight from the company’s namesake mountain, Mont Blanc.