We received a small taste of what was to come from Montblanc back in December, but earlier this morning, we found out the rest of the brand’s novelties during the first day of SIHH. All of Montblanc’s watches this year are concentrated into three lines: the 1858 collection, the TimeWalker collection, and the Star Legacy collection.
In particular, the 1858 collection, is noteworthy as 2018 marks the 160th anniversary of the brand’s erstwhile Minerva marque, but all the collections seem to call back to Minerva’s exceptional horological history. Minerva has a lengthy history developing some of the most attractive and mechanically-potent chronographs on the planet. All the way back in 1911, Minerva had developed stopwatches that could measure 1/5th of a second. In 1916, only five years later, the Minerva Manufacture was one of the first to develop a high-frequency movement that could measure 1/100thof a second, a development that was later improved upon in the mid-1930s.
The 1858 Collection
This year’s 1858 line contains five new watches: the 1858 Automatic, 1858 Automatic Chronograph, the 1858 Geosphere, the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100, and the 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100.
The 1858 Automatic and the Automatic Chronograph are the most traditional of the group. The Automatic is a 40 mm stainless steel model with a bronze bezel and fluted crown. It comes with the option of either a black or a smoked champagne dial. The 42 mm, bi-compax Chronograph is available in either a stainless steel or bronze case and comes with a black or smoked champagne dial. Both watches are water resistant to 100 m and are available with either a high-quality black NATO strap (below) or an aged calfskin strap (above).
The 1858 Geosphere is inspired by the Seven Summits mountaineering challenge. If you didn’t know, the challenge involves scaling the highest peaks in each of the seven continents and only 500 climbers have ever completed it. The timepiece features a worldtime complication with two turning domed hemisphere globes that make a full rotation every 24 hours. The northern hemisphere, located at 12 o’clock, turns counterclockwise, while the southern hemisphere at 6 o’clock turns clockwise. Both mini-globes are surrounded by a scale listing the 24 time zones, along with a day/night indication in contrasting colors. You can also see the longitude reference meridian on both hemispheres coated in SuperLumiNova. There’s a second time zone indicator at 9 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock. To keep the theme of the Seven Summits alive, all the lofty peaks are marked with a red dots. It comes in either stainless steel or a limited edition of 1858 bronze case.
The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100 is inspired by the historical Minerva monopusher chronograph caliber 13.20, originally developed in 1920. Montblanc was one of the first companies to work with monopusher chronographs after developing a smaller 13-line movement during the 1920s. Limited to 100 pieces, this new model has a smoked green dial. The bi-compax dial places the small second counter at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Through the case back, you can see the Caliber MB M13.21, recognizable by the iconic V-shaped chronograph bridge that has been a Minerva/Montblanc patent since 1912.
Finally, the 1858 Pocket Watch is Montblanc’s greatest attempt at embracing its heritage so far. This pocket watch has three different uses. First, it can rest on a table with a stand or combined with an inbuilt compass that can be accessed by opening it up to lay flat on a map. It can also be turned into a wristwatch if attached to the brown Sfumato calfskin strap that comes with the watch. Of course, it can also be held in a hand like a traditional pocket watch. The 60 mm timepiece is made of grade-two titanium that is both polished and satin finished. The dial is made of Dumortierite stone that gives the watch its blue appearance. The 30-minute counter and small second subdial are both cut directly into the stone
The Star Legacy Line
The Star Legacy collection has been updated for 2018 with six new watches: the Star Legacy Suspended Exo Tourbillon Limited Edition 58, the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, the Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph, the Star Legacy Full Calendar, the Star Legacy Moonphase, and the Star Legacy Automatic Date. The distinguishing features of this collection include Arabic numerals, blue leaf-shaped hands, a railway minuterie track, the Montblanc exploding star guilloché pattern, and filet sauté guilloché.
The Star Legacy Moonphase is very traditional. At 42 mm and available in stainless steel or gold, it’s a fair size for a moon phase but the curved horns make it perfectly suitable for wearing underneath a suit jacket or blazer. The Star Legacy Automatic Date follows the minimalistic design code, but comes in two sizes and multiple different case materials: 39 mm and 42 mm with a choice of stainless steel, steel and gold (two-tone), or 18K gold.
The Star Legacy Full Calendar offers up the hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, month, and moon phase in a surprisingly simple way. The date is indicated by a red crescent-tipped hand that stops at each day on the perimeter of the dial. The day of the week and month appear in windows underneath 12 o’clock. The moon phase can be found in the lower half of the watch. It’s a very sober watch that is highly legible.
The Suspended Exo Tourbillon is the real hero piece of Montblanc’s 2018 offerings. It took over three years of development and was completed entirely in-house. The “Exo” refers to the large balance wheel with screws outside of the tourbillon’s rotating cage. The Montblanc team wanted to create a more visible one-minute tourbillon to show off the complication. The 14.5 mm balance wheel is raised over the dial by 3.2 mm and is supported by a tourbillon bridge with a single stainless steel arm that is curved and mirrors the hour circle at 12 o’clock. Having this enlargened balance wheel on the dial eliminates the need to increase the size of the movement. Overall, the three-dimensional nature of the ExoTourbillon ends up saving more energy than a typical tourbillon, makes the tourbillon cage lighter, and makes the watch more accurate since the balance is located outside of the rotating cage meaning that it isn’t affected by inertia. The watch itself is 44.8 mm and comes in 18K red gold with a guilloché dial. It’s a limited edition of 28 total pieces.