In 2014, Montblanc came out with the Orbis Terrarum, a well-executed and relatively affordable world-timer with in-house world-time module. Equipped with a simple pusher on the side of the case, it was easy to set while traveling, and it used a combination of stacked, turning dials in order to show its wearer, at a glance, whether it was day or night in a given time zone.
Looking back, one of the watch trends from the early part of the last decade was the democratization of complications that were once viewed as out of the reach of many if not most collectors. Montblanc’s Orbis Terrarum remains, at least in my mind, an important part of that story. The company refreshed the OT in 2016, and today, we’re having a look at the latest version, new for 2020.
Looking at the dial of the new Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum, I’m reminded somewhat of the original of 2014, which depicted the map of the Northern Hemisphere, with the North Pole at its center, in shades of light and dark blue as well as white. A successive edition in 2016 changed things up and added a color gradient to the map, which was supposed to reflect the warmer temperatures one would encounter as they traveled toward the equator.
The new Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum we’re looking at today shows the continents of the Northern Hemisphere in rhodium and the oceans in a blue flinqué-froissé guilloché pattern that resembles waves. You might have noticed that part of the ocean is light and part of it is dark. Those colors track with what can be seen dividing the 6 and 18 hours of the 24-scale. The dial is in fact made of two rotating disks: the upper one made of sapphire crystal and partially transparent, with a rhodium coating applied directly onto the sapphire to form the continents and the meridians. The lower disk, which depicts the ocean, rotates with its two shades of blue providing an intuitive indication of day or night in 24 time zones.
There’s also a 500-piece limited edition version of the Star Legacy Orbis Terrarum that comes in an 18-karat rose-gold case. In this example, the flinqué-froissé guilloché pattern is rendered in light brown and dark brown, and the continents and lattice of meridians above it are presented as a gold coating on sapphire crystal.
There are some other fairly subtle tweaks to the display, including the use lume-filled, leaf-shaped hands, and a shift of the local city marker (now via a red triangle at 12 o’clock) away from the 6 o’clock position. The 43mm case has stepped lugs and a fairly prominent onion crown, a nod to aviation perhaps and a nice touch for a travel watch. It suits the soft contours of the round case.
I think that Montblanc watchmaking is at its best in two pretty distinct areas. First, the watches that come from the Villeret manufacture (the erstwhile Minerva factory) really are some of the most impressive timepieces currently being made in Switzerland at any price – in particular the chronographs. It’s difficult to think of watches that exceed them in quality. Then there are the somewhat more accessibly priced complications, such as the watch we’re looking at right now and a handful of calendar watches we’ve seen from Montblanc over the years.
There is a thoughtfulness to the new Orbis Terrarum’s design that I appreciate, and I can see why Montblanc has continued to iterate on it over the years. I haven’t seen the raised metallic continents and meridians in the metal, but based on the pictures here, I think that they are probably going to look great. In this very odd season of virtual releases, a few watches have made me sigh and wish that I’d had a chance to meet them for the first time in person. Even in a poorly lit trade show booth, I think that the gold version of this guy would look pretty amazing.
Model: Orbis Terrarum
Reference Number: Stainless steel: 126108; rose gold, 126109
Case Material: Stainless steel or 18-karat rose gold for the limited version
Dial Color: Stainless steel: blue and white; rose gold: brown and light brown
Indexes: Lume-filled markers
Water Resistance: 5 bar
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless steel: Blue Sfumato alligator leather strap; rose gold: brown Sfumato alligator leather strap. Both from the Richemont Pelletteria, Florence.
Caliber: MB M29.20 (Sellita SW350-1 base) with Montblanc Manufacture world-time complication
Functions: Hours, minutes, world time, day & night indication
Power Reserve: Approximately 42 hours
Frequency: 28,800 vph
Pricing & Availability
Price: Stainless steel: $ 6,800; rose gold: $ 20,800
Limited Edition: Rose gold version is limited to 500 pieces.
For more, click here.