Montblanc’s 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Unique Piece For Only Watch 2017: Old School To The Core, And That’s A Good Thing!
Since its launch in 2005, Only Watch has been one of the most – if not the most – significant auctions in the watch world. A biennial charity auction founded by Luc Pettavino, Only Watch is organized by the Monegasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophy (MAAMD) under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Brands donate unique timepieces to be auctioned; the proceeds are used completely to help finance research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a debilitating and life-threatening genetic disorder that affects around one in 3,500 boys, including Pettavino’s own son, who died of the disease in November 2016.
From all 50 of the outstanding timepieces offered in this year’s auction, where each and every one of these watches has its own unique credentials and qualities, Montblanc’s 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter for Only Watch is on top of the podium when it comes to reinterpreting successful vintage design. This hand-wound monopusher chronograph with a sophisticated column wheel mechanism exudes an invincibly charming retro style that takes you directly back to the 1930s, to the birth of its top-tier Minerva caliber.
Over the past years, “retro” styles have become all the rage in the world of watches, where a wave (or perhaps a monsoon?) has seen almost every brand dig deep into their archives for inspirations to evoke a glorious past. In addition to re-editions of yesteryear’s bestsellers, a host of manufacturers have also created genuinely new designs that gently and elegantly revisit past decades.
In particular, the 1950s, ҆60s, and ҆70s seem to be an endless source for today’s watch creations – and this is not surprising when we consider that some of the most iconic timepieces were born back then: the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Zenith’s El Primero, Omega’s Speedmaster, and Glashütte Original’s Spezimatic to name just a few. Highly sought-after and deeply appreciated by connoisseurs, these classics have consistently topped hit lists decade after decade.
For some watch lovers, including my humble self, this hype of the last years at times seemed like too much of a good thing with some manufacturers perhaps having gone over the top or, even worse, doing research in archives with questionable origin.
A jewel of the past shines in a new look for a good cause
This is definitely not the case with Montblanc’s 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Unique Piece for Only Watch 2017. A picture-perfect example of inspiration from last century’s early chronographs, this timepiece demonstrates excellence and authenticity in craftsmanship, the hallmarks of the Robert family, who founded Minerva in 1858.
Montblanc’s 1858 collection of vintage-styled models loyally recalls the birth of Minerva, whose chronographic legacy and rich history has been successfully revived by Montblanc since it took the factory over in 2007.
Celebrating the 1930s
At first glance, one can’t help but notice the stunning dial color, a deep, almost hypnotic green.
Thanks to an array of graduating shades on this dial, increasingly intense color nuances extend from the center to the dial periphery surrounded by the beautifully executed tachymeter scale printed around the outside.
The subtle hue contrasts perfectly with the distinct tone of the bronze case and continues through to a matching green alligator leather strap. The dial serves as the perfect stage for luminous cathedral hands and Arabic numerals in a bold font style revisiting the 1930s, the classic chemin de fer rail track minute scale, and – most importantly for a stopwatch function – the chronograph counter for minutes at 3 o’clock and the small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock.
Another historic feature that instantly strikes the eye is the prominent oignon-style crown, adding a nostalgic touch of early pilot’s watches and simultaneously ensuring that the crown is eminently grippable.
All in all, the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Unique Piece for Only Watch 2017 has a very harmonic, balanced, and sophisticated appeal from the front side as befits a genuine and well-designed retro-styled timepiece.
Finesse in large format
Turning the watch over and looking at the back of this eminent beauty, don’t be surprised if your eyes experience a slight moment of disconnect due to the irresistible allure of the vintage style movement on view through the sapphire crystal covering!
The Caliber M16.29 chronograph movement is one of the finest examples of traditional hand-finishing available in serial form. And not only is it absolutely stunning, it links this timepiece even more to the past: inspired by Minerva Caliber 17.29, originally designed for pocket watches, the in-house manually wound movement beating at a leisurely pace of 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph, features circular graining, sublime beveling, the ultra-difficult inside angles, red gold plating over German silver, and classic Geneva stripes on the bridges.
With a diameter of 38.4 millimeters, Caliber M16.29 comprises 252 components of which many are crafted in red gold to complement the bronze case. Not to be missed is the characteristic “Minerva arrow,” a V-shaped chronograph bridge particular to Minerva’s style of making movements, within this booming mechanical microcosm.
With all this brilliant beauty one is almost inclined to forget the impressive technology combined with a visual charm, which earned another version of this watch, the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition, the title of Best Chronograph in the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. See Quill & Pad’s Predictions In The Chronograph Category Of The 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
And that honor shouldn’t be any surprise. We are talking about a pure monopusher chronograph with column wheel control and horizontal disk clutch, which are just a smattering of the technical details that also make the unique piece for Only Watch 2017 an extremely attractive proposition.
Quick Facts Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Unique Piece Only Watch 2017
Case: 44 x 13.15 mm, bronze
Dial: green lacquered dial
Movement: hand-wound manufacture Caliber MB M16.29 with monopusher column wheel chronograph, gold plated, German silver plates and bridges with red gold elements, 2,5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency; power reserve 50 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; monopusher chronograph, tachymeter scale
Limitation: one unique piece
Estimate: €26,000 – €32,000 / $29,000 – $36,000 / 28,000 – 35,000 Swiss francs
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