America’s largest luxury watch event, WatchTime New York, is returning for its fifth consecutive year at Midtown Manhattan’s Gotham Hall on October 25-26. This year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest yet, with 37 participating watch brands displaying their latest and greatest timepieces. Among these brands is Montblanc, which will be featuring — among its many 2019 offerings — the expanded Montblanc 1858 collection.
The 1858 Collection was reintroduced at SIHH 2015 as a platform for vintage-focused design that leans on Montblanc’s shared history with the erstwhile Minerva manufacture. In 2018, Montblanc sought to build the collection out in earnest by adding a number of entirely new references, including the 1858 Automatic, the 1858 Chronograph, and the 1858 Geosphere. This year, Montblanc is outfitting those three models with bronze cases and khaki-green dials to add an ever greater dose of outdoor aestheticism, as well as adding a new chronograph to the collection that is equipped with a split-second mechanism.
Many of the key, identifying details remain consistent from last year’s releases. Each model features large Arabic numerals as well as cathedral shaped hour and minute hands that have been injected with Super-LumiNova. There’s a vintage Montblanc logo found at 12 o’clock (3 o’clock for the Geosphere) on each of the khaki-green dials and each watch comes on a khaki-green NATO strap from Montblanc’s Pelleteria in Florence. On the technical sides of things, each movement used inside the Montblanc 1858 Collection is subjected to the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500, which consists of three weeks of non-stop testing that effectively simulates the first year of life for a Montblanc timepiece. The caseback is made of bronze-coated titanium with Montblanc’s “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraving in relief. Finally, all three of these new green-dialed releases are limited editions of 1,858 pieces each, the split-second chronograph is limited to 100.
The original 1858 Automatic from last year featured a stainless steel case construction with a bronze bezel and a champagne-colored dial. Montblanc has segmented that concept into two new watches, one with a fully bronze case and khaki-green dial and another non-limited version with a full stainless steel case and a black dial ($2,410). The time-only release is sized at 40 mm and uses automatic Calibre MB 24.15, which is based off a Sellita SW200-1 and offers up a 38-hour power reserve. A thickness of 11.07 mm, the lack of a central seconds hand, and the watch’s overall wearability make this watch the most authentic interpretation of a field watch within the 1858 Collection. Price: $3,050
When the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph was introduced last year, its bi-compax design with old-school pump pushers combined with its attractive sub-$5,000 price point to check off a lot of boxes for enthusiasts. That concept has been enhanced in 2019 with the khaki-green dial and bronze case construction for only slightly more money right at $5,000. Check out WatchTime’s review of the 1858 Automatic Chronograph here for the rest of the specs and details.
The 1858 Geosphere was undoubtedly the hero piece for Montblanc in 2018 — it even graced the cover of WatchTime’s Nov./Dec. 2018 print issue! Inspired by the Seven Summits Challenge — which involves climbing the highest peak in each continent, a task less than 500 climbers have achieved — the watch takes an unusual approach to a typical world-time complication by using two separate hemispheres that each make a full rotation every 24 hours. The Northern Hemisphere at 12 o’clock turns counterclockwise, while the Southern Hemisphere turns clockwise. Each globe is surrounded by a scale with the 24 time zones, along with a day/night indication in contrasting colors (dark green, night; bronze, day). The small red dots on the hemispheres represent the highest mountains on the seven continents (the Seven Summits). The ratcheting bidirectional bezel can be used for navigation during daylight. Finally, the subdial at 9 o’clock can be used to track an additional time zone. In our opinion, the new khaki-green colorway helps elevate an already intriguing watch into a more appreciable aesthetic territory. You can read WatchTime Editor-in-Chief Roger Ruegger’s recent review of the 1858 Geosphere here for the full breakdown on how it all works. Price: $6,300
Finally, 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, 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, incorporated into the Montblanc Manufacture since 2006. 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. It is limited to 100 total pieces and is priced at $31,000.
All of the new Montblanc 1858 models will be available for an up-close, hands-on experience at WatchTime New York 2019. If you’re curious to check them out in person, along with hundreds of other new, rare, and interesting timepieces, reserve your tickets now for WatchTime New York 2019!
All this retro stuff amounts to cheap recycling and a failure of new ideas.Some of it looks good.