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Montblanc  - When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Montblanc When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

For Montblanc's Laurent Lecamp, inspiration for the brand's latest Iced Sea Collection came halfway up a mountain, and no prizes for guessing which mountain it was!

How did you come up with the idea for the Iced Sea Collection?
When I started at Montblanc in January 2021, I began my discovery of the Maison by looking at the Montblanc logo, which represents a bird’s eye view of the Mont-Blanc mountain and its six surrounding glaciers. I decided to go up into the Alps myself to better understand why the brand’s founders had created this emblem in 1913. Once on the mountain, I was taken aback by the beauty of the glacial ice up there, its colours, inclusions, and depth. It was then that I had this idea to try and reproduce what I saw onto a watch dial, so I took a ton of photos and took them to our dial makers. 

When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Iced Sea © Montblanc

What was their reaction?
At first, they told me it would be very ambitious to create this perception of depth and light in a dial that only has a thickness of 0.4 mm. But I really wanted to find a way to do it. We finally agreed to try, and numerous prototypes later, they found the solution. It wasn’t an easy solution as there are over 30 different steps involved in creating this dial, which is extremely rare in dial making, but I am delighted with the result as it is exactly how I imagined it and it just makes perfect sense for the Maison. 

When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Laurent Lecamp wearing the Iced Sea © Montblanc

How is it made exactly?
It was quite the challenge because the glacier has inclusions that look almost milky, which is no easy feat to create. The next challenge was to create the shininess and impression of depth in the ice. To achieve this, we employed an old 19-century technique (gratté boisé) which had been practically forgotten. It consists of delicately hand brushing each brass dial with cream of tartar to give a shiny effect, which accentuates the volume effect, before moving on to the coloring stage. As part of the process, the dial needs to be fixed in a special resin that you can’t buy anymore, as the plant used to make it is protected, so our dial maker searched for some old stock to be able to do it. The whole process is a story in itself. And then, as previously explained, a total of 30 steps are necessary, taking over one month to create each dial. 

Why did you choose to launch the Iced Sea with black, blue and green dials?
Quite simply because these are the colours of glaciers in the natural world. It wasn’t the result of any marketing calculations; we simply wanted to represent these beautiful natural wonders in an authentic way. 

When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Laurent Lecamp wearing the Iced Sea © Montblanc

What is the most popular colour?
You know, we have had clients who have bought all three colours. We even had a client who bought five, one for himself and four for his closest friends. I have another example of one of our clients who is usually a Minerva collector, who bought three, one colour for himself, another colour for his wife, and another one for his son so it becomes transgenerational. 

How does this make you feel?
It is incredible, some clients have even sent me photos of themselves wearing their watches on holiday. For me, this really shows the joy they have in wearing these watches. There is such an emotional connection with this watch. 

When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Iced Sea © Montblanc

Going back to the product, can you talk about some of the other unique design details?
Of course, one thing that you can’t see, but you can hear, is the sound of the beautiful two-tone ceramic rotating bezel. It has a very special signature sound that mimics a marine animal. I won’t tell you what it is, but I encourage you to go into a Montblanc boutique and try it out for yourself! It took us a long time to get it just right, but these surprising elements are really important to me. 

Another detail that I’m particularly proud of is the bracelet, which has a “V” shape, is interchangeable, and can be adjusted on the wrist. No other watch brand offers something like this at this price point. 

When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Laurent Lecamp wearing the Iced Sea © Montblanc

The Iced Sea is obviously a sports watch, but is it certified for diving?
Absolutely, we conform to the ISO 6425 standard for diving, which includes the uni-directional rotating bezel that I have just mentioned, plus water resistance to 300 metres and all the other criteria to keep scuba divers safe. There is also a three-dimensional lazer engraving on the caseback with a diver swimming around an iceberg, which is also a little nod to the world of diving.

When Horological Inspiration Strikes in the Strangest of Places

Iced Sea © Montblanc

Since its launch at Watches and Wonders earlier this year, what has the response been like?
It is one of the biggest success stories of Montblanc. The collection has also been bringing a large number of new clients into the boutique that had never entered a Montblanc boutique before, which is huge. Our external partners have been witnessing the same thing. 

I hear that some people are calling the watch “Iced Tea” instead of “Iced Sea”, how do you feel about that?
Our boutique staff and external partners have shared with me how customers have been asking for the Iced Tea collection, and they reply by asking “which flavour?” instead of “which colour?”. This really makes me smile. When collectors start giving a watch a nickname, it is a sign of success. I couldn’t ask for more! 

 

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