Montblanc’s modern timepiece collection derives much of its aesthetic character from the historical watches of Minerva — a heralded Swiss producer of chronographs whose ancestral atelier was acquired by Richemont in 2006 and revived as the Montblanc Manufacture. The brand’s latest release, the Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100, re-envisions the Minerva military watches of the 1930s in a distinctly luxurious contemporary vein.
The watch has a 44-mm case made of full-satinated bronze, a material used previously in Montblanc’s vintage-look timepieces, and a black lacquered dial with rose-gold-colored details that elegantly echo the look of the case. Based on a legendary Minerva chronograph watch (pictured below), the dial is defined by the two classically designed scales on its periphery.
One is a telemeter scale, used to measure distance based on visible and audible phenomena — i.e., to calculate how far away a storm is from the wearer based on the time between a flash of lightning and the first rumble of thunder. The other is an old-school, snail-shaped tachymeter scale in the dial’s center for measuring the speed of a moving object over a known distance. Both scales employ the watch’s built-in chronograph function, operated by a monopusher in the crown. The chronograph is equipped with a “rattrapante,” or split seconds device, operated by an additional pusher at 2 o’clock, which uses two separate chronograph seconds hands and enables the user to measure intermediate times without interrupting the measurement of a longer interval. This type of chronograph expertise is rare in today’s watch world, and a historical specialty of Minerva, now incorporated into the Montblanc Manufacture.
The integrated chronograph movement in question is the new Montblanc Caliber MB M16.31, a manually wound movement with two column wheels — one driving the chronograph, the other controlling the split-seconds function — along with horizontal coupling, a power reserve of 50 hours, and a large screwed balance beating at 18,000 vph. It features a host of haute horlogerie finishes, including côtes de Genève, inner angling, circular graining, beveling, and the traditional Minerva arrow and V-shaped chronograph bridge. The movement, like the case and dial, takes its cues from history: it is based on the Minerva caliber 17.29 developed in the 1930s.
Montblanc will be among the 27 exhibiting watch brands at the upcoming WatchTime Los Angeles collectors’ event on May 3-4. Tickets still available; click here to secure yours now!