Montblanc 1858 Geosphere: Travel Never Looked So Good
When I was younger, I wanted to travel the world and see everything I possibly could. Growing up in a town with fewer than 2,000 people in the rural U.S. Midwest, anywhere else in the world seemed like a better place to be.
As time went by, my other hobbies began to take center stage until travel became a desire that wasn’t extremely high on my priority list. Thanks to a good friend who is almost entirely devoted to voyaging and experiencing new places, travel has slowly moved up the ladder of importance over the last few years, although I wouldn’t have said it was in the top five activities I would do first if I suddenly came into money.
This may be because I have been lucky enough to travel to Europe seven out of the last ten years as well as spend time venturing throughout the United States on extended road trips trying to visit every state (42 out of 50 so far). Since travel has sort of been a given, often dictated by watch fairs or joining a friend’s adventure, I took it for granted.
Thanks to COVID-19, that reality has now evaporated and my upcoming travel plans are on indefinite hold. And the future of free, easy, and cheap travel is unknown as airlines around the world try to figure out if they are going to survive and what the future of international air travel might be like.
Things may go back to a quasi-normal state, but it’s clear that care-free global mobility will not be as accessible as it once was. Which naturally has me now wanting to travel more than ever.
With everyone else in my company working remotely, the lack of activity in the community has given me plenty of time to delve into travel blogs and be reminded that I may not be flying anywhere for a while. This has made me hyper-aware of the world and all the places I want to visit. And it has made anything related to travel stand out more than it might usually have.
Enter the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere, a very cool dual-hemisphere world time watch that just received an update during Watches & Wonders 2020, inspiring me to daydream about seeing the world again.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere
When the 1858 Geosphere was first released in 2018 it was very well received thanks to its different take on the world time function, one not usually seen. Available at the time in both stainless steel and a limited-edition bronze case, the Geosphere was an awesome combination of simple military-inspired styling with a touch of vintage thanks to beige Super-LumiNova numerals, markers, and continents across the dial.
The latest iteration takes the heavy vintage styling and lets it mellow as the new blue color scheme feels more modern yet retains some of the hints of patina from a gradient dial and soft white Super-LumiNova.
But what takes the 1858 Geosphere into another league is the new brushed titanium case, which turns what was more of a sport-oriented travel watch into much more of a tool watch, something fitting even more succinctly with the “theme” of the Geosphere, which is a tribute to mountaineering and the seven summits (plus Mont Blanc).
The vintage-inspired logo on the dial forgoes the rounded star logo that is ubiquitous across Montblanc’s products, but instead opts for an early logo bearing a line drawing of Mont Blanc. The brand was founded in 1906, but the current logo was only adopted in 1913, so this previous iteration was short lived. But has made a resurgence on a few vintage-inspired Montblanc collections.
It may be a small detail to some, but with retro-inspired design it’s often the little things that can make or break a watch.
That said, the focal point of the Geosphere is not a small detail or a color choice, but those two awesome hemisphere dials displaying world time for both the northern and southern hemispheres. Centered on the north pole, the upper dial displays the northern hemisphere and rotates counterclockwise, making one rotation every 24 hours. On the subdial are lines of longitude dividing the visible continents into 24 equal sections for approximate time zones.
The same goes for the southern hemisphere dial, though this one appropriately rotates clockwise.
Both dials have indications for day and night so that it’s easy to tell which half of the globe is currently awake and able to receive urgent phone calls (if international business is your game).
At midnight we find a crescent moon symbol, mirrored on the opposite side by a six-pointed sun symbol. Each slightly domed hemisphere also features a highlighted prime meridian line, so it’s easy to find the location for GMT/UTC +0.
Tool for the summits
As with previous editions, each of the hemisphere dials also displays a small dot at the location of each of the seven summits (the highest mountain on each continent) and in honor of the brand’s namesake, Mont Blanc. All of these points are in ice blue as is the prime meridian. The continents and the prime meridian also feature Super-LumiNova while the points do not, so in the dark the glowing continents have dark points symbolizing the seven summits.
This keeps them visible even in the dark, easy to spot, though you probably aren’t going to use them for navigating as the dots are as big as entire countries on that scale. But the effect combines with the rest of the dial to make a lively midnight experience.
The hands, numerals, and compass directions on the bezel all have Super-LumiNova so the indications are highly legible, even in low-light conditions.
And that is part of the key to this piece: it is supposed to be ultimately functional for the wearer. With a date window at 3 o’clock and a second time zone for home time at 9 o’clock, the dial provides a nice buffet of information.
And unlike many watches that simply slap hour markers or a dive scale on the bezel, the Geosphere remains true to its inspiration by utilizing compass directions on a bi-directional ceramic inlay bezel that provide an additional function.
Any old-school backpacker worth their salt will tell you that you can use your watch and the sun’s position to determine north, so a bezel marked with the directions make it a bit quicker as you can set the bezel and keep updating it throughout the day.
It works well in a pinch, and that is the idea behind having it as a backup compass for the adventurer. But all of this doesn’t matter much if your watch isn’t rugged enough to withstand the elements, and that is precisely why the latest Geosphere has a titanium case and a bracelet boosting its durability.
While it is still available on a blue leather strap, there is now the option for a titanium and stainless steel bracelet, which adds to the character of the watch. With solid titanium end links and a grains-of-rice center in polished stainless steel, many will love the look. And for someone that’s planning on visiting (at least) one of the seven summits, a bracelet would be an upgrade over a fine leather strap.
The original bronze edition came with the option for a bund strap, a typically hardy strap for the outdoors, but for me, nothing beats a bracelet for practical durability.
Montblanc stepping up
That is where this watch truly wins: the combination of cool styling, useful functions, and quality craftsmanship make for a fantastic tool watch.
Often people want to think that dive watches are the “ultimate tool watches” simply because they are by default designed to be able to handle a variety of environments. The 1858 Geosphere demonstrates that there are other categories that can produce a winning tool watch, including a dual time zone world timer, something that would not first come to mind.
But with key features and an intelligent application, the Geosphere has proven to be a popular addition to the modern tool watch category. Based on its popularity, it’s clear that watch lovers have agreed. And for some, it may have changed their opinions of Montblanc as a brand. Out of all the luxury product names to enter the watch industry, Montblanc has probably met with the most resistance in proportion to its efforts to make fantastic watches.
Montblanc has a litany of spectacular pieces, some powered by sensational Minerva movements, and the quality can’t be denied. The new 1858 Geosphere in titanium is a model I’m predicting will become a top seller, not just because many gravitate toward blue styling on watches, but because at $6,200 for the bracelet version this watch represents great value for a watch that should last for the rest of your life.
And if you don’t want to climb all seven summits, then you have a much better chance that the rest of your life will include many more years to enjoy the watch!
Mountain climbing is dangerous, so I’m just going to break this down instead!
- Wowza Factor * 8.1 Getting the travel bug from the dial of a watch definitely will make you go wow!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 81.5» 799.242m/s2 With twin hemispheres and the ability to display time around the globe, this watch packs more than eight times the force of gravity thanks to the two mini earths!
- M.G.R. * 56 Very solid movement with world time and second time zone mechanism, can’t go wrong with this one!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate Dual world time, second time zone, date, and day/night indicator means you will definitely need the extra-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream to manage the worldly swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 9.89 The ache of muscles overworked after being underused! You need to stay active otherwise your muscles will atrophy, and physical exertion hurts way more than it should! Still, I’d gladly feel like I’ve spent two months on the International Space Station if I might be lucky enough to find one of these on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Hard to beat that blue! Sometimes the difference between like and love comes down to the details, like whether the shade makes the grade!
- Awesome Total * 718 First multiply the diameter in millimeters (42) by the first half of the caliber number (29), then subtract the signifying number for the Montblanc Laboratory Test (500) to get a highly covetable awesome total!
For more information, please visit montblanc.com/en-us/collection/watches/montblanc-1858-collection/montblanc-1858-geosphere.
Quick Facts Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Blue
Case: 42 x 12.8 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber MB 29.25 (base Sellita SW300) with in-house world-time complication, 28,800 vph/4Hz frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; date, second time zone, revolving northern and southern hemispheres with 24-hour and day/night indication
Price: $5,800 on leather strap; $6,200 on titanium and stainless-steel bracelet