With The Wind In Its Sails: Montandon & Co. Windward
The sea calls to many. And if you are going to navigate, then navigate in style.
Yachts – boats or ships used mainly for recreation – come in all shapes and sizes. They can be powered by wind or motor, but they all share one common characteristic: the promise of fulfilling a yearning for open water.
Traveling in open water is generally nicer when you have plenty of room to move around on your yacht. This, of course, leads a privileged few to seek out larger and larger vessels for their excursions, creating a market for the king of the marinas: the super yacht. These ships are the height of nautical luxury and border on the insane with their size, construction, and accessories.
The sky is the limit as any list of the “most expensive super yachts” demonstrates. Wealthy oligarchs and oil sheiks aside, super yachts are rather incredible feats of engineering and design backed by a whole host of talented people. The designers, engineers, ship builders, riggers, and eventually the crew all combine to create an experience that is hard to rival on planet earth.
So what do you get, then, when an heir to a watchmaking legacy begins his career in naval architecture and ends up heading a company equipping sailing cruisers and super yachts? You get a man with a deep background in both watchmaking and sailing; a man with the passion to start his own thing.
The man I am talking about is Daniel Montandon and his brand is Montandon & Co.
Montandon & Co. launched at Baselworld 2017 after Montandon dreamed of a brand in line with his passions and specific requirements. Teaming up with independent watchmaker David Candaux for development of a unique “in-house” movement, the Windward is the first collection from Montandon & Co., displaying everything you might associate with life sailing around the world.
Design fills the sails
Daniel Montandon took a look at his history designing racing catamarans, rigging, and structural components for ships and the numerous patents he holds for his work on various projects and used these to develop a vision for his brand and the Windward collection. There are details on every side of the Windward that speak to his passion and knowledge of the nautical world.
It starts, easily enough, with the dial and the details found there. The hour and minute markers are reminiscent of a navigational compass, highlighted by the applied polished markers at 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock. The center of the dial has a wave pattern, pretty standard on nautically inspired watches, but the hands are something new.
Instead of a modern interpretation of classic hand styles, the hour and minute hands are shaped like actual racing sailboat sails.
The asymmetrical design may be a small detail to some, but the effect is actually rather important to the cohesiveness of the overall design. The inspiration continues with the second hand attached to the one-minute flying tourbillon (we’ll come back to that), which is shaped like the profile of a hull with the slightest hint of a keel thanks to a small bevel on the tip.
The dial only features just one Arabic numeral, 12, which keeps the dial clean. It is also reminiscent of the numbers that are sometimes found on the sides of racing sailboats.
Moving out from the dial, the Windward starts to feel a bit more relaxed in the inspiration. The sapphire crystal is shaped instead of round, cut and beveled around the front case screws. This feels almost as if it is a frameless porthole in the side of a classic sailboat.
While the case could be considered aggressive and angular, the shapes are borrowed right from modern super yachts, with the pseudo pushers – functional on future models with additional functions – shaped like air intake vents and the case profile mimicking a tapered stern.
The crown is a highly detailed simile of a ship’s steering wheel, which is also echoed in a variation for the clasp design. Finally, the watch strap retention loops constitute a very small but interesting detail in that they are actually crossed over, a method that keeps the tip of the strap from slipping out under active circumstances.
Inside is where the fun really starts
The exterior details are well thought out and make sense based on the inspirations, especially when you consider that translating design choices between very different objects often doesn’t end well.
But no matter how much I dig the look of the Windward, the movement inside is what grabbed me from the beginning.
The watchmaker behind the movement development is independent watchmaker David Candaux, the man behind other awesome projects like Fonderie 47, MB&F HM6, and his own recently released 1740 – The First 8.
For the Windward, Candaux and Montandon developed Caliber TMA01 – V1, an automatic flying tourbillon movement with 72 hours of power reserve and some special goodies.
First, let’s return to the flying tourbillon visible from the front and the rear, which resides in a camera-shutter-like oculus in the movement.
The tourbillon can be hidden from the dial by closing the oculus with the crown located on the left side of the case. This smooth crown, marked with a compass star, opens and closes an iris mechanism that completely covers the tourbillon, allowing only the second hand to remain visible.
The iris system is pretty cool, in this case run by a rotating plate with slots driving each leaf of the mechanical iris. The plate is attached to a circular section of gear rack that gets driven by the secondary keyless works. The flying tourbillon is mounted to a triple-arched bridge, adding complexity to the rear of the movement.
A peripheral automatic winding rotor rotating on three bearings, one with eccentric adjustability, rotates around the outside of the movement. The twin spring barrels at the top of the movement have two large screw-mounted chatons that mimic portholes in a ship; these go hand in hand with the mount for the flying tourbillon and the entire sapphire crystal case back.
Like the front, the rear looks like a porthole except that the sapphire crystal covers the entire rear of the case and is screwed through the material. This creates a very open feeling for the movement, especially when combined with the peripheral rotor so that there is absolutely nothing obscuring the mechanics.
Finally, there is a delicately hand-carved starfish decoratively placed on one of the bridges, entirely unnecessary but a very nice touch to complete a nautical theme.
There are many more little details to be found in the case and the movement and all of them are considered and cohesive. The design, while clearly nautical, is a bit different from the usual, and given the provenance of the boutique brand (see The Most Complicated Watch You Have (Probably Never Heard Of: 1f4 Grand Complication By Dominique Loiseau With Daniel Montandon) and its watchmaker partner the future for Montandon may well bring some fun surprises.
Daniel Montandon has mentioned that future development is already well underway with a variety of added functions for the next timepieces, including super GMTs, alarms, countdown timers, and even mechanical computers.
If the integration of these functions is as considered as the design behind the Windward, I think we shall all be talking about Montandon & Co. much more. Only time will tell, but until then we have wonderful yachting wristwatches in the Montandon Windward collection.
I think that calls for a breakdown!
- Wowza Factor * 8.44 The mechanical iris catches you, and the good design adds to the wow.
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 84.4 » 827.681 m/s2 Enough lust to make me want to learn how to sail!
- M.G.R. * 64.1 Independent and complicated, just what I like in a movement!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A It has some cool features, but technically no added functions so, like many, there is no need for Gotta-HAVE-That cream, but some time on the water is certain!
- Ouch Outline * 10.15 Slipping on a wet stoop and falling on your tailbone! Weather can get the best of us sometimes, especially if you are in a hurry. But I might happily slip and take a tumble if it meant getting the Windward on my wrist! It’s water resistant to 50 meters so it can handle the rain.
- Mermaid Moment * A couple times opening the iris! Mechanical irises are always a nice touch if done well, and this one fits the bill. It reminds me I need to book a caterer!
- Awesome Total * 720 Multiply the hours of power reserve (72) by the water resistance in bar (5) and then multiply that by the number of crowns (2) and the result is a nautically awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.montandonandco.ch/product/windward.
Quick Facts Montandon & Co. Windward
Case: 44 x 11 mm, bronze A-HP or 18-karat white gold with titanium pushers and bezel
Movement: automatic Caliber TMA01 V1 with 60-second flying tourbillon and mechanical iris
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: 146,000 Swiss francs including VAT