Beige Arabic numerals coated in Super-LumiNova and plated in 18 karat red gold fill the rest of the dial, with the historical Montblanc Watch Strap Replica emblem at 12 o’clock and a railway minute track with conducting tachymetric scale round the perimeter. To finish the classic aesthetic this watch includes a cognac-aged alligator strap made by the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence (which is Italian for “leather products shop”) and fitted using a satin-finish bronze-plated buckle.While the dial and strap of this Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100 is appealing and a wonderful illustration of ’30s span style, the true joy of the timepiece isn’t discovered until you flip it around. Throughout a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback, the Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB M16.29 is shown, which was motivated by the first Minerva pocket watch calibre 17.29. This really is a column-wheel chronograph movement with horizontal coupling, including the brand’s distinctive chronograph bridge at a “V” shape and piled with “MINERVA Villeret” between two jewels in gold chatons. The movement comes with a large screwed equilibrium wheel beating at 18,000 semi-oscillations each hour, and offers a 50 hour power reserve. The base plate and bridges are made from German silver (also known as Mailechort, an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and zinc) which can be plated in 18 karat red gold and extensively decorated with circular graining, Côtes de Genève, along with chamfered edges, all hand-applied. The going train is plated in crimson gold and features faceted arms and diamond-polished surfaces.This is a seriously lovely motion, and the mix of red gold, yellow gold, and silver functions to complement the color palette of the watch dial and case. I would have loved to see Montblanc use blued screws on the motion too, to connect back to those blued hands on the dial.
Montblanc‘s top of the line Minerva movements have thus far been used only in extra-large, 16-ligne format in its aviator-style 1858 watches. That meant wristwatches sized like pocket watches, 47mm wide.
But at SIHH 2018 Montblanc restyled the 1858, giving it smaller cases with cleaner details. The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100 consequently has 40mm steel case with a 13-ligne movement inside.
The dial is an attractive dark green with a radial brushing and a dégrade finish that darkens towards the edges. Unusual though it is, the colour is not new, having been found on last year’s one-off 1858 Chronograph “Only Watch”.
But the highlight of the watch is visible only from the back. Last used four years ago in the somewhat plain Heritage Pulsograph, the cal. MB M13.21 is the Minerva cal. 13.21 (which means it is a 13-ligne movement and the 21st developed by Minerva), a compact, hand-wound movement with a single-button chronograph. The pusher at two o’clock starts, stops and resets the stopwatch.
While improvements have been made to its construction, the calibre still looks very much like what it is, a high quality chronograph movements of the mid 20th century. The chronograph is horizontally coupled, while the balance wheel is large and beats at a slow 18,000 oscillations per hour.
The movement finishing is tangibly excellent, with plenty of polished bevels, straight grained steel parts and mirrored countersinks.
The case of the 1858 line was just redesigned for 2018, and this features all the improvements. Conceived to give the case a more refined feel, the tweaks include a wide, polished bevel along the length of the lugs. And the lugs are also shorter, to make the watch more wearable.
Price and availability
The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100 (ref. 117834) is limited to 100 pieces, priced at €28,000.