The story of Montfort Strata is like many great stories, it starts with a chance meeting in a bar. Philippe Kuratle, an epicurean serial entrepreneur meets Jérémie Senggen, a Swiss watch designer, and they hit it off. This meeting was the first step in an epic story that spans 12 months.
It usually takes years to build a brand – Philippe and Jérémie have created Montfort in 12 months and launched a Kickstarter campaign in late 2016 as the culmination of thousands of hours of R&D, Design and testing.
The newly formed duo were fed-up with watches scratching so easily. Philippe solicited the help of his Engineer of a brother that manages an R&D company that had worked with Stainless Steel hardening before and had adapted it to watches. Hardening Stainless Steel brings with it a lot of benefits to the user but also a lot of production constraints to the manufacturer. Everything gets more complicated with hardening; design and polishing need to be adapted for what is effectively a new material.
In their first trials Jérémie and Philippe found that after hardening the steel would look very granular and almost mineral (due to the growth in the crystalline grains within the steel).
This, usually unwanted, effect was compelling and ultimately became a central theme of the Montfort DNA. Philippe and Jérémie wanted to use this granularity and not shy away from it. While the watch cases are exquisitely finished as any Swiss watch should be, they needed a way to show this technological heritage that wasn’t apparent after polishing.
Thomas’ company AIM SA had been developing Stainless steel parts with an additive manufacturing company, using this form of production could give a natural ‘granularity’ to the dials and also allow for complete creative freedom – a ‘win win’ opportunity both entrepreneurs couldn’t pass up.
The blueprint for the Montfort ‘Strata’ (geological layers) had been laid.
Beyond the hardened exteriors, Montfort looked to 3D printing technology to create a unique custom interior. Developed using high precision metal binder jetting technology from Swedish company Digital Metal from Sweden, the 3D printed dials on the Montfort Strata models are so complicated no other manufacturing technique would have been possible. The extreme precision and ultimate scalability of the digital metal solution made it the perfect choice for the watches’ striking “Swiss Alps inspired” dials.