WATCHES & WONDERS 2020: MONTBLANC 1858 TIMEPIECES

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This year saw the annual Watches & Wonders (previously termed Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or simply SIHH) happening virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the maisons who introduced their remarkable designs were Montblanc whose 1858 product line beautifully link its the past and the present through design, style and technical innovation.

As Montblanc’s watchmaking story began in 1858 with its Minerva manufacture, during a time when pocket watches started to gain recognition for its crown winding system, Montblanc proved successful as the maison become a leading specialist in professional watches (stopwatches and chronographs) for measuring small intervals of time with high precision during the 20th century.

Historic Minerva timepieces
Historic Minerva chronographs, the inspiration behind the Montblanc 1858 line

Precise, legible and built for use in extreme conditions, the legendary professional Minerva watches from the 1920s and 30s made for military use and exploration pave the way for Montblanc’s 1858 range that is rooted in the spirit of mountain exploration.

The latest editions of 1858 takes its inspiration in the colours of glaciers and ice, showcasing a dashing blue and icy white aesthetic combined with a mix of materials such as titanium and ceramic. Let’s take a closer look at the four Montblanc 1858 complications introduced during Watches & Wonders 2020, starting with the two pieces inspired from Minerva’s heritage.

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H

Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H

The first thing that will strike you about this exciting watch is that it only has one hand! Plus, its complication with a 24H indication via a single hand allows the timepiece to be used both as a timekeeper, to read hours and minutes, and as a compass. Reiterating Montblanc 1858’s spirit of exploration. To ‘activate’ the compass feature, simply hold the watch horizontally to the ground and rotate it until the extremity of the hour hand is pointing towards the sun, thus all cardinal points on the dial will be correctly aligned with North located at 24h and South at 12h for those in the Nothern Hemisphere, and inverse for those in the Southern Hemisphere.

Housing a calibre MB 24.20 in its 42mm stainless steal case, with “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraved onto its caseback, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H has a power reserve of approximately 42 hours.

The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph editions
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph editions

This second range inspired by the historical Minerva chronograph that as introduced during Watches & Wonders 2020, includes the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 1858. The limited edition, with only 1858 pieces produced, is available with a new matching beige-coloured NATO strap while the non limited models are available in stainless steel, one of which comes with a new stainless steel bracelet and the other which comes with an aged, cognac-coloured calfskin strap.

A calibre MB 25.12 is at the mechanical movement with automatic winding chronograph that has a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. This range too has the words “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraved on its caseback.

The Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100

Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100
Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100

If you’re wondering what the 100 in its name means, you’d be glad to find out (or not) that only 100 pieces exist. Special attention has been paid to the dial which is crafted from solid gold and is adorned with a gradated blue grand feu enamel for the watch that has a very distinctive dial comprising a snail shape tachymeter scale in the centre and a telemeter scale on the internal flange. This was truly a standout piece at Watches & Wonders 2020 as the split second mechanism in the centre lends even more excitement to the entire movement.

Equipped with a manufacture monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.31 that features two column wheels, horizontal coupling this Montblanc 1858 limited edition has a power reserve of 50 hours.

The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere
The varieties of the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere

Last but definitely not least is the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere – one of the key icons of the 1858 line with its two distinctive domed turning hemisphere globes and worldtime complication. This watch definitely embraces the spirit of mountain exploration as it pays tribute to the Seven Summits (the highest mountains from each continent), by having them demarcated on its dial.

The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere comes in grade-5 titanium which is not only robust and durable but also has a low thermal conductivity and is light for utmost comfort on the wrist. And if you didn’t notice earlier on, it is also the watch which Lawrence Wong sports on his wrist in the beginning of this feature.

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