The petite Montblanc Bohème Day & Night isn’t exactly bohemian, nor are any of Montblanc’s timepieces really, but as much as this watch has all the signs of studied fine watchmaking, the viewer has to acknowledge the Day & Night is a little romantic. For all Montblanc’s credibility, hard luxury can still have a softness, expressed in this case by a pristine silvery-white guilloché surface, floral Arabic numerals, and a miniature window on to the sky above.
Through its dial’s crescent frame, the vista’s transformation across a 24-hour trajectory is illustrated in daytime in light blue with a dynamic golden sun, before moving into a dark blue at nightfall, decorated with a radiant old-world moon and its accompanied stars. Blued steel leaf-shaped and baton-shaped hands work in with the wistful sky tones.
Usually Montblanc’s DNA is marked by a certain seriousness that women — who make up about 35 per cent of its customers and not merely as purchasers for significant men in their lives — are just as keen on expressing their horological choices.
This watch has the elements of the dressy heritage-style timepieces we’ve come to expect from the house that was founded in 1906 and established on fine writing instruments and leather goods, and only entered watches 20 years ago. It’s a modern classic that is not too far off its main men’s offerings; it’s just that it has been pumped up by a diamond set bezel and a glossy patent alligator strap, plus a complication that is also comprised of an elliptical or date window.
Montblanc will always prefer to whisper not shout. So I was pleasantly surprised by the 9.53mm height of the case for a women’s model, which gives the dial structure and a certain masculine rigour, despite the 34mm case size and gently curved lugs. I guess I’d expected a lower pitched or more retiring watch. And I am happy to say, as far as complications go, it’s pretty simple, but not simpler than what the guys get — simple is a stand-in here for refined. A relief given the sometimes fashion-over-mechanism marketing drives of complications for women in the market. No butterflies, flowers or hearts here to prettify the equation. I am personally not enamoured with an enamel explosion when it comes to women’s complications.
Apart from its bezel’s diamonds, the patent sheen of the black alligator strap, and a whimsical half-shaped moon with a slight smile and a more distinguishable nose (which recalls a Jules Verne novel illustration), it’s a timeless study in quiet elegance.
It’s easy to give all your attention to the diamonds on the bezel – all 72 of the Top Wesselton specimens – but the sky-keeper has a calibre MB 24.10 that can be admired through the sapphire crystal case back, and although the Montblanc Bohème Day & Night might be sitting pretty, it would be a misstep to underestimate the calibre and its complication.
While I subscribe to the seductive power of all that is patent, I would like to be offered a simpler black leather strap with this collection of watches in the future, which at this stage is capped at alligator and metal bracelet.
And when I want to explore something more layered, I will probably be checking out the Bohème Perpetual Calendar Jewellery watch that came out a year before the pair, when it was brought out as a partner to the popular Meisterstück Heritage Perpetual Calendar men’s watch from SIHH 2014. In case anyone might erroneously think I am any less complicated.