Running across the outside of the dial is a subtle yet unique design part of this Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph: a railway minute track which uses dots instead of lines, which Montblanc asserts is motivated by a rare feature on Minerva watches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Outlining this second track is a filet sauté guilloché pattern (meaning up and down guilloché lines — even if it seems like something culinary) which adds to the visual interest of the dial when scrutinized closely. The situation is made from steel, highly polished, and coated with a domed sapphire crystal using anti-reflective coating. The large onion-shaped crown should make twisting and setting the watch easy even with gloves, and also is a layout element frequently associated with aviation watches.The lugs of this Star Legacy Automatic Chronograph are elegantly curved and stepped, and attach the eye to an included “Sfumato” blue alligator strap handmade by the Montblanc Pelletteria at Florence, Italy. The hue of the ring is brighter near the middle and darker towards the borders, another small design detail that may go unnoticed at first glance but increases the total interest and refinement of this timepiece. Visible through a sapphire crystal display caseback is the Calibre MB 25.02, that will be a Montblanc-branded variant of the ETA 7753 and contains 27 stones, a 46-hour power book, and oscillates at 28,800bph, or 4Hz.
The Montblanc Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph uses two domed titanium discs for the 60-second and 30-minute counters, with elapsed time indicated on both disks simultaneously via a blued double index in a layout similar to Rieussec’s original chronograph. A railway minute track again using dots rather than lines is also featured round the periphery of this off-center dial, together with discreet dots around the inner dial to indicate the hours in another time zone. The dial makes heavy usage of guilloché for decoration, such as a perimeter ring of filet sauté guilloché. The general aesthetic is just a pair of pomme-style hands from maybe being confused for a Breguet, which is certainly not a terrible thing for lovers of vintage decoration.Turn the watch round and the Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB R200 is revealed through the sapphire crystal caseback. Two barrels supply a generous 72-hour power reserve, and the movement will be well-decorated with circular graining on the bottom plate, Côtes de Genève on the bridges, bevelled edges, blued screws, and golden wheels. Even though this is the identical movement used in previous Rieussec versions, for the very first time it’ll be certified by the arduous Montblanc Laboratory Test 500. This evaluation lasts 500 hours and assesses the watch assembly, accuracy, resilience of the functions under real-world use, general performance, and water-tightness.
Introduced first in steel and then in bronze with a champagne dial, the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in bronze was a hit, combining retro-aviation styling with everyone’s favourite oxidising alloy. Now Montblanc brings us part two, with the same bronze case and top class movement, now fitted with a salmon dial.
The dial has a radial, brushed metallic finish and a dark salmon finish. Popular today amongst aficionados for being unusual and vintage in style, salmon is a gentle yet striking colour that is quickly noticed on the wrist.
The combination initially seems odd, since bronze is usually paired with green or blue dials, but it works. The salmon dial, blue hands and greenish Super-Luminova make for an appealing retro-flavour look.
At 44mm in diameter the case is large, a property accentuated by the narrow bezel and closely-set lugs. The size is intentional as the design is inspired by 1920s Minerva wristwatches that were converted pocket watches, but it also means the watch feels big on many wrists.
Made up mostly of copper with a healthy dose of aluminium, the bronze case starts with a bright gold finish when new, but oxidises to a muted, more brownish tone over time. This changeable surface has made bronze the flavour of the day for watch cases.
While the case material and dial colour are faddish, the movement is old school watchmaking. The MB M16.29 inside is based on an chronograph movement conceived in 1929 – the calibre name is a contraction of “16 lignes 1929” – and originally designed for a pocket watch, hence the large size.
While innovation is not a strong suit of the movement, classic good looks and traditional finishing are.
Like all of Montblanc’s Minerva movements, the MB M16.29 retains its the classical construction, including the screwed balance and elegantly shaped chronograph levers.
The finishing is impressive and detailed – notice how the teeth on the barrel ratchet wheel are individually polished – with flourishes like a sharp-tipped arrow shaped like the Minerva logo that forms the tail of a chronograph lever.
Price and availability
The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in bronze with a salmon dial (ref. 117064) is priced at US$27,500 or €27,500, exactly the same as the earlier version. It’s limited to 100 pieces.