Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic Watch With Diamonds Hands-On
After attending the 2015 edition of the Watches & Wonders trade show in Hong Kong, I wrote that this Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic reference 112144 or 113706 (from what I can tell, these reference numbers are for the same watch, but Montblanc might use one or the other depending on your region) watch best summed up the theme of the event in the above linked-to recap article. Relatively reasonably priced in 18k gold and with diamonds, this men’s dress watch well epitomizes a particular timepiece genre which I think is both emerging, and also not particularly well understood in the West. Of course, in many places in the world, there is pushback against men’s watches with diamonds for a variety of reasons. Most of these reasons surround the concept of “that isn’t masculine.” Can diamonds on a men’s watch indeed be masculine? And in what forms or styles are they the most appropriate?
There are a few major reasons why diamonds in general get a bad rap when it comes to timepieces. First and foremost is the fact that, as a precious and decorative material, diamonds do not inherently add functional value to a timepiece. Many watch lovers are primarily interested in the mechanical and utilitarian value of timepieces (as well as design), so being asked to pay a significant premium for something “shiny” doesn’t always go over well.
Related to that is the notion that diamonds needlessly add expense. Particularly these days, high-end watches supplemented with diamonds offer brands enough rationale to dramatically increase prices of a particular timepiece (which is often already very expensive, typically being in gold or another precious metal) to levels which are above and beyond the cost of the diamond stones, the gem-setting, and a reasonable margin. Thus, many people associate diamonds with unfettered price inflation tactics meant for watches intended to be on the wrist of those who “don’t care about money.”
The third argument going against diamonds is that, for the most part, diamonds are closely associated with women’s jewelry. Men are supposed to be proud and strong while women are more acceptable being shiny and decorated. I am, of course, referring to general stereotypes. Again, these are the results of traditional perceptions not universally applied around the world, but I don’t think anyone would disagree that women around the world wear diamonds far more commonly than men do. Thus, it is difficult to remove diamonds from the realm of femininity and give them a more masculine appeal.
Still, our diverse world of luxury watches has in it many men’s watches with diamonds. Many, many men’s watches with diamonds, actually! I would argue that the majority of them are destined for purchase in either Asia or the Middle East. These just happen to be the regions around the world were men buy watches with diamonds on them.
That should make it clear why Montblanc decided to debut this diamond-decorated version of the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic in Hong Kong at Watches & Wonders 2015 given the event’s focus on the larger Asian watch market. In addition to regional tastes, what also defined the event was a strict focus on value for the money. While very exclusive ultra-lavish timepieces are always a major focal point of any Richemont trade show, it is the timepieces intended for the “luxury buying masses” that I found to be particularly interesting.
It isn’t that the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic 112144, 113706 watch is cheap – because it isn’t. Rather, it is an admirably fair price given the 18k red gold case and diamond decoration on the bezel and dial – especially coming from a “name brand.” I’ve felt for a while that various Montblanc Star and Meisterstuck collection watches have been very beautiful dress pieces, and here, the collection goes even more lavishly formal without entering into “insane price” categories.
The Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic case is 39mm wide and rather slim at just 9mm thick (with 30m of water resistance). The relatively simple case is made more interesting with contrasting brushed and polished finishes – with the latter being on the lugs for good, “formal-wear” measure. In my opinion, the marketing images of the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic ref. 112144, 113706 don’t really do this watch justice. They make the dial appear flat where, in reality, the applied hour markers offer a nice sense of depth, while the guilloche engraved-style dial texture (which is actually an emanating Montblanc star) and dauphine hands play with the light in a commendable manner.
Of course, Montblanc offers the Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic watch in 18k red gold without the diamonds (as well as in steel, or two-tone steel and gold on a bracelet), but my focus here will be on the “top tier” model with diamonds. Montblanc has been really pushing hard with “high value” watches over the last few years, which has interestingly meant not only entry-level steel watches, but also gold and diamond-decorated models as well. I think it is a testament to the brand that they are trying to offer something at a more entry-level price across the board.
The sacrifice one needs to make with the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic is in the movement. No, it isn’t a bad movement, but it just isn’t an interesting one either. Montblanc uses a base Swiss ETA 2892 automatic (visible through the sapphire crystal caseback) that they refer to as their calibre MB 24.09. Operating at 4Hz (28,800 bph), the movement has a power reserve of two days.
When it comes to a dress watch meant for elegant, formal attire, I don’t need anything beyond a decently slim automatic movement that is reliable. These aren’t the types of watches people wear on a daily basis (unless they wear a tuxedo on a daily basis), so I would gladly give up something unique inside the watch for something that is tested and dependable.
Montblanc has played with a number of dial styles over the years when it comes to their more formal fare. I’ve seen more traditional dials and some that are quite modern. I would say that the Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic is somewhere in the middle with its obvious nods to both the past and present. Elements of the dial design look historic, some look clean and modern, and others look a bit Art Deco-insired. In any event, the dial is clean and legible with properly sized hands and attractive, yet not over-done decorative embellishments (such as the diamonds set into the hour markers at 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock).
While the diamonds aren’t huge, the row of them set into the bezel is easily noticed and makes for an apt frame on this slightly showy watch. Even though there is a clear “bling” element to anything with diamonds on it, I find the overall design of the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic to be rather tasteful and restrained. While there are plenty of other diamond-set watches for men out there that still feel macho, most are a lot more expensive than this one.
Diamonds don’t need to be something men automatically shun on watches. Indeed, in much of Asia, watches for men with diamonds on them are highly desired. It is really the ultimate way for a man to present his social stature and status – but the trick is doing so tastefully. Something that, in my opinion, the Montblanc Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic 112144, 113706 does rather handsomely. Attached to a black crocodile strap, it comes with a price of $10,300 (which is a $3,400 premium over the Meisterstuck Heritage Spirit Date Automatic reference 113705 in 18k red gold without the diamonds that is priced at $6,900). montblanc.com