Montblanc’s 1858 collection is named for the year in which the legendary watchmaking maison Minerva was founded in Villeret, Switzerland. Renamed Montblanc Manufacture after Montblanc acquired it in 2007, Minerva makes movements for the 1858 watches, which are designed to resemble Minerva chronograph watches of the 1930s. At the SIHH watch salon in Geneva, Montblanc introduces the first bronze-cased models to the vintage-inspired collection.
The three new watches are the 1858 Automatic, Automatic Dual Time, and Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition. All of them have 44-mm cases that incorporate a bronze alloy engineered to develop a unique patina over years of wear, making each watch personal to its owner. The Automatic and Dual Time watches have bezels made of this alloy, while the Chronograph uses it for the entire case, except for the caseback, which is made of bronze-colored titanium to avoid skin allergies. All three have cathedral-style hour and minute hands treated with beige Super-LumiNova; period-appropriate, luminous Arabic numerals; railroad minute tracks around the dials; and vintage-inspired onion crowns. The original 1930s-era Montblanc logo, with its historical font and illustration of Switzerland’s Mont Blanc mountain in the center, appears on the dials. Also adding to the timepieces’ “aged” look are the cognac-colored calfskin and alligator straps, with beige stitching, made by artisans at the Montblanc Pelleteria in Florence.
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic has a deep black dial with a clean, simple hour-and-minute display. The case is made of satinated stainless steel, while the bezel and crown are in bronze. Its solid steel caseback features an engraved depiction of the Minerva Manufacture in Villeret with the Jura Mountains in the background, along with the historical Robert Frères Villeret logo, the historical Minerva logo, and the arrow from the spear of the Roman Goddess Minerva, after whom the original company was named. The movement is the automatic Caliber MB 24.16, with a 28,800-vph frequency, 31 jewels, and a 38-hour power reserve. The price is $3,490.
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time also has a case made of satinated stainless steel and topped with a bronze bezel. It is powered by Montblanc Caliber MB 29.19, an in-house automatic equipped with a home time (GMT) function, date indicator, and day-night display. On the black dial, a center-mounted, skeletonized home-time hand — which has a Super-LumiNova-filled tip to differentiate it from the fully Super-LumiNova-filled hour hand — allows a user traveling abroad to set the local time to a new time zone without affecting the home-time hour hand or the running of the minutes and seconds hands. The day-night indicator, connected to the home-time hand, is in an aperture below 12 o’clock, while the small seconds and date, both linked to the local time, are in a subdial at o’clock. The watch is priced at $4,990.
The show horse of the new 1858 bronze editions is the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition, which features an entire case made of satinated bronze, paired with a champagne-colored sunray dial. The watch is outfitted with Minerva Caliber MB M16.29, a manual-winding monopusher chronograph movement with a column-wheel mechanism, horizontal coupling, a V-shaped chronograph bridge, a large screwed balance wheel oscillating at 18,000 vph, and a power reserve of 50 hours. The movement is inspired by the original Caliber 17.29, which Minerva used to equip its pocketwatches and early wristwatches in the 1930s. Nearly all of the components in the new movement are in the same shape as the originals but feature an array of new finishes, including inside angles, côtes de Genève and circular graining. For the first time, Montblanc has introduced rose-gold-colored components in the movement, which echo the case’s bronze coloring. The dial, surrounded by a tachymeter scale, features a red-tipped central chronograph hand, a 30-minute chronograph subdial at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The monopusher to activate the stopwatch is integrated into the crown, which is graced with a Montblanc logo in raised relief. Limited to just 100 pieces, the watch is priced at $27,500.