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SIHH 2017 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie - Geneva, 16-20 January 2017

Montblanc - TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter

It may not be the flagship piece among the new TimeWalker models, but it’s the one that best represents the history of Minerva in motorsport timekeeping.

As the collection of vintage Minerva stopwatches in our gallery shows, the manufacturer based in Villeret, Switzerland, has long been a reference in the production of timing instruments for all manner of sports. But the TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter is not just a mere historical re-edition. It is a timepiece that, still to this day, has a genuine practical use in the sport for which it is intended.

I was a fan of rallying when I was a child, but my father has turned his love of the sport into a hobby. Not as a driver, however, but as a regular marshal on national rallies in the UK and the Wales Rally GB, which is a stage on the World Rally Championship. I therefore asked him about the relevance of timekeeping in modern-day rallies. There is, of course, a high-tech element to the timekeeping of the rally itself, which is managed by electronic equipment and beamed by satellite direct to rally HQ during the multi-stage races. But there is also a secondary aspect that is equally important and which is one of the numerous responsibilities of the co-driver. Each car in the race has to arrive at a number of locations (from the “ceremonial” start to the official start and from the finish to the start of the next stage) at a specific time. Arriving late incurs a penalty; arriving early incurs a more severe penalty (because cars drive on public roads between stages and are therefore required to respect the speed limit).

TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 

A stopwatch on its own, therefore, is not sufficient, since the co-driver also needs a reference time to check that he or she is on schedule. As my father explained to me, before the start of a stage, all the co-drivers will go to synchronise their watch with the official clock at the start of the stage. The co-driver is then responsible for guiding the driver around the stage at full speed using his pace notes (all the while being jostled around and subjected to just the same g-forces as the driver) and ensuring that they arrives at the start of the next stage at the allotted time.

Far from being just another historical re-edition, therefore, the new Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer is a watch that still has a very practical application in rallies today. This versatile timepiece can be worn on the wrist, removed and used as a pocket watch with a stand (many co-drivers attach their stopwatches to a clipboard, for example), or even clipped into a purpose-built metal plate that attaches to a car’s dashboard. The 50mm diameter titanium case can also be rotated through 180 degrees, so that the Rally Timer can be worn like a pocket watch on the wrist (with the crown at 12 o’clock) or with the crown at 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock, which allows the watch to be read clearly when your hands are gripping the steering wheel, for example.

TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition
This professional instrument is powered by the Montblanc calibre MB M.16.29 hand-wound column-wheel chronograph movement, which is based on the original Minerva 17.29 calibre. Its chronograph functions are triggered by the monopusher integrated into the knurled titanium crown at 12 o’clock and are indicated by a red central seconds hand and a subsidiary 30-minute counter. The hours are absent from the dial, leaving space for the minute markings, as befits a timepiece designed for motorsport. The beautifully finished movement, with hand-bevelled edges on the mainplate and bridges, circular graining on both sides of the mainplate, Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges and diamond-polished surfaces o the going train, can be admired through the transparent sapphire crystal case back. The Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter is a limited edition of 100 and costs €37,000. 

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