Monday, November 5, 2012

An Open Letter to Richemont and Montblanc

Dear Richemont and Montblanc,

Before anything else, I want to congratulate you on the development and growth of Montblanc as a watch brand.  I think I would not be alone if I said that when you first made this move, I had some very real doubts, but you have made believers of us all.

But the real reason for my letter to you both, is to sincerely request that you bring back Minerva as a watch making brand.  Bringing Minerva into the fold of Richemont made perfect sense.  It offered real knowledge and experience - true legitimacy in what is truly a disappearing metier for many.  A small manufacture, making movements - doing something not to necessarily make millions, but doing it out of a love for something made in small batches.  I am not talking about the highly specialized micro-commerce of the fiercely independent watch makers - which thank goodness is there!  But I am talking about sustainable scale.  These wonderful movements now power some of Montblanc's most beautiful timekeepers.

I miss the differences, the choices.  Everything is beyond industrialized these days.  Almost nobody makes anything from scratch.

So here's my idea, and I think it's a pretty good one -

Relaunch Minerva as a small scale manufacture.  Not as big as Panerai, Montblanc, Cartier, etc. - but not as small as the independents.  Set a goal of a few thousand pieces a year.  Make them honest watches - make a watch that is FOREVER.  Make a watch that will stand the test of time and be handed down from grandparent to grandchild.  This doesn't have to be a wildly expensive proposition - for you or the customer.  Make Minerva relevant as an honest-priced watch the same way that NOMOS and Frederique Constant have.  You have something for the well-heeled, and even the super wealthy.  And I think that is good!  But make something for the more discerning everyman - something on the order of $2000 - $2500.  No crazy features.  Simple hand-wound watches maybe with a date if you're feeling daring.  A good, honest watch.

I realize that my idea is not sexy, but it is romantic.  And it's hard not to be romantic about watches.  


  1. I agree with the concept of this post, and have thought pretty much the same myself. I own a Montblanc Timewalker Chrono and absolutely love it. Back when Montblanc announced the revival and integration of Minerva I was very excited because Minerva had been one of my favourite vintage brands, a brand with a proper history and quality manufacturing. However I don't think Richemont will separate Minverva from Montblanc, because of the success and uniqueness of the dual branding exercise and because the Minerva-powered Montblancs are positioned at the top of Montblanc's range, putting them into direct competition with other innovative manufacturers - a place Montblanc watches had not previously occupied. If Richemont were to launch solely Minerva-branded watches, I can't see them devaluing the brand and its heritage by positioning them in the $2000 range, occupied by countless other mass-market brands the majority of whom offer nothing really special.

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