Montblanc 1858 Collection: Storytelling In The Mountains
Now that Davide Cerrato has been at Montblanc as product director for more than two full years, he has had the chance to implement some of his own ideas and strategies rather than carry out those already in place. And that has resulted in a brand-new look for the 1858 collection, which now exudes a distinct outdoorsy vibe.
The main message here is a clearer, more simplified concept that can be more easily grasped by millennials and other, more widely targeted consumer groups; Cerrato has looked to integrate the outdoors and the idea of a more natural lifestyle into the new watches.
This also includes distinct references to Minerva’s illustrious past, the traditional chronograph maker that Montblanc purchased in 2006, as well as a slight military bent in some cases – a style that is apparently making a comeback in 2018 (see Ulysse Nardin Adds A Casual Military Look To The Marine Torpilleur Collection) – with legibility and robustness coming to the fore.
In fact, “casual” just might be the catchphrase here, and there are a number of new-to-Montblanc elements to underscore this ideal: degradations of dial shades (like that found on the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Unique Piece for Only Watch 2017), resized hands filled with vintage-style light brown Super-LumiNova, and a new strap style created at the Montblanc Pelleteria in Florence called sfumato, which sees the dial color degradations repeated on the strap, the edges of the leather now darker than its center.
The 1858 name pays tribute to the date of foundation of Minerva manufacture; Montblanc was founded in 1906.
The new Montblanc 1858 line: military and 1930s spirit in one
What becomes obvious in this particular collection is the use of what I might call “living” materials like bronze and aged calfskin leather straps, which change as they are worn to receive a personal patina.
Contemporary casual chic is also provided in the strap arena with NATO styles (made by the same high-quality French supplier that makes Tudor’s lauded NATO straps) and the so-called Bund strap, which is a cuff strap.
As with every high-quality Montblanc watch, these new timepieces undergo the brand’s rigorous 500-hour testing of simulated wear.
The “simplest” of these new watches, and the most wearable thanks to its smaller case dimensions, is the 1858 Automatic.
With its champagne-colored, smoke-effect varnished dial (that is also available in black), its vintage inspiration is unmistakable. It is available on either an aged cognac-colored calfskin strap with beige stitching, or a black NATO strap.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic
Case: 40 x 11.07 mm, stainless steel or bronze
Movement: automatic Caliber MB 24.15 with 38-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Montblanc Vintage-inspired chronos: 1858 Automatic Chronograph and 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter
The 1858 Automatic Chronograph with its smoked, champagne-colored dial also wears its vintage inspiration on its sleeve: its bicompax chronograph totalizers at 3 and 9 o’clock take inspiration from Minerva’s historic chronographs.
The 1858 Automatic Chronograph comes on a choice of an aged cognac-colored calfskin strap with beige stitching or a lined black-and-grey NATO strap.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph
Case: 42 x 14.55 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber MB 25.11 with 48-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph
The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter is an attractive variation on the beautiful vintage-styled chronograph theme that we’ve already been privileged to see several iterations of at Montblanc. One such version won the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève’s chronograph category (see What We Liked And What We Didn’t At The 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and Quill & Pad’s Predictions In The Chronograph Category Of The 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève).
The new 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter absolutely excels in its sensational movement, Caliber 13.21 (a derivation of Caliber 16.29), both of whose no-nonsense architectures are derived from a beautiful Minerva pocket watch movement from 1929. And both boast impeccably executed hand-finishing. The major difference between them is the monopusher crown button, which Caliber 13.21 does not have, instead using a separate one-button system located above the crown.
The charm this chronograph misses in its beautiful monopusher crown it makes up for in other places: the new 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter’s fantastic looks are modeled on those of the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Unique Piece for Only Watch 2017 with its gorgeous green degradé dial. And, of course, the new matching sfumato green strap is a real coup.
Quick Facts Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter
Case: 40 x 12.15 mm, stainless steel
Movement: hand-wound manufacture Caliber MB M13.21 with column wheel chronograph, gold plated, German silver plates and bridges with rhodium plating, gold-plated gear train, 2,5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency; power reserve 55 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; chronograph, tachymeter scale
Limitation: 100 pieces
How could world time be missing from the new 1858 collection? It’s not!
Montblanc has been successfully integrating world time into its collections for the past couple of years, turning these timepieces into real visual experiences. Great examples have been the Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphères Vasco da Gama with double globes on the dial and the ultra-attractive Orbis Terrarum wristwatch (even made in a limited edition for Great Britain).
The new 1858 Geosphère Limited Edition has been given a special function in Montblanc’s 2018 collection: it is attributed to pay tribute to the Seven Summits challenge, a mountaineering test that involves an athlete summiting the highest mountain peaks of each of the earth’s seven continents. In tennis, we might call such a feat the Grand Slam.
The “Reinhold Messner version” of the seven summits includes Mount Everest (Asia), Mount Aconcagua (South America), Mount Denali (North America), Mount Kilmanjaro (Africa), Mount Elbrus (Europe), Mount Puncak Jaya (Australasia), and Mount Vinson (Antarctica).
Only 500 people have achieved this most difficult mountaineering quest to date, including Montblanc’s new ambassador, Kenton Cool.
The dial of the new 1858 Geosphère Limited Edition is dominated by two globes in bicompax positions: one depicts the northern hemisphere and rotates in a counterclockwise manner, the other portrays the southern hemisphere and rotates in a clockwise manner. Both of the globes are surrounded by 24-hour scales with day/night indications in contrasting colors.
The Prime Meridian on both globes is coated in Super-LumiNova for a spine-tinglingly cool effect, while the seven summits are marked on the globes with red dots. They are also engraved on the watch’s case back alongside a depiction of Mont Blanc, a compass, and two ice picks.
This attractive watch comes on a choice of an aged cognac-colored calfskin strap with beige stitching, a black NATO strap, or a new brown sfumato aged calfskin Bund strap with beige stitching, reminding one of Minerva’s vintage timepieces even more as these were equipped with those kinds of straps in the 1920s and ’30s; they were ideal for military and exploration use.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphère Limited Edition
Case: 42 x 12.8 mm, stainless steel or (limited edition) bronze with bronze/black ceramic bezel
Movement: automatic Caliber MB 29.25 with 42-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; date, second time zone, revolving northern and southern hemispheres with 24-hour and day/night indication
Limitation: 1,858 pieces of the bronze with bronze/black ceramic bezel
And, as has become tradition at Montblanc, an 1858 pocket watch
While annually making 100 pieces of a very expensive pocket watch is in my opinion a very risky proposition, Montblanc has been adding one to its 1858 collection every year since the brand overhaul when Jérôme Lambert, who now oversees Richemont’s watch division, first joined in 2013 as its CEO (see Montblanc: A Winner In 2014).
In fact I asked Lambert a few years ago why he felt it was necessary to go to the trouble of making pocket watches, and he answered that he wanted to be able to offer high-quality watchmaking to anyone who desires it in any form. Good examples were 2016’s 4810 Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition and the 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition (which even made it to the finals of the 2016 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the Travel Time category).
New CEO Nicolas Baretzki and Cerrato obviously agree with him as the pocket watches have remained in Montblanc’s collection – though in the 2018 1858 line it has of course mutated into a rugged instrument Cerrato called a “multi-purpose exploration instrument” that is also transformable.
At 60 mm in diameter, it has a stone-like shape. And if I’m to be honest, it almost feels like a stone in the hand despite its lighter-weight titanium case thanks to the heavy movement, a second case back, and the natural blue Dumortierite stone dial. This gorgeous stone that looks something like lapis lazuli, but not quite as dark a blue and with a more metallic look, was named for French paleontologist Eugène Dumortier (1803-1873).
A very cool extra is the genuine compass that comes into view when you pull the hunter case back, an element that underscores this product’s instrument character. The movement is isolated from the compass’ magnetism by being cozily ensconced in a Faraday cage inside the case, which certainly also adds to the weighty feel of the piece.
It comes with a leather “pocket” made of aged sfumato calfskin for wear on one’s arm (or to hang from a tent pole) if so desired.
Quick Facts Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100
Case: 60 x 20.8 mm, grade 2 titanium with hunter case back, 52 parts
Dial: blue Dumortierite
Movement: hand-wound manufacture Caliber MB M16.24 with monopusher column wheel chronograph, gold plated, German silver plates and bridges with rhodium plating, 2,5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency; power reserve 50 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; 24-hour display, monopusher chronograph, pulsometer scale; compass
Limitation: 100 pieces