In his excellent article on the Montblanc pre-SIHH releases, my colleague, the redoubtable Keith Strandberg, told us to look to Montblanc’s Only Watch 2017 offering to get some clues about what the brand was planning for their main SIHH release. He also included a further hint-laden quote about Montblanc “looking with one eye to the future and one eye to the past”, which would make for a rather interesting facial configuration, but I get that it was a metaphorical turn of phrase, and anyway he wasn’t wrong. It’s the Montblanc 1858 collection, y’all!
If you’ve been paying attention at all to Montblanc over the last few months, you’ll definitely remember the bronze 1858 monopoussoir chronograph with classically beautiful Minerva movement that went up for auction during Only Watch 2017. And, of course, the previous versions in steel or gold debuted to a considerably enthusiastic reception. (I count myself amongst the most enthusiastic members of the audience.) And if you have any sense of what constitutes an attractive watch at all, you’ll have been waiting for Montblanc to bring out even more variations of this watch and similarly vintage styled pieces. Well you’re in luck, my friend.
The 2018 SIHH offerings from Montblanc include three automatic 1858 watches, with the emblematic round case, narrow bezel and streamlined lugs. The cathedral hands with cloisonné-style divisions are replicated throughout, filled with SuperLumi-Nova for maximum readability, even in low light conditions. The bi-metallic automatic 1858 has been extended to include a version with bronze bezel and a smaller 40mm case diameter to reflect vintage inspirations.
Also coming in three versions is the new 1858 automatic chronograph, the most outstanding of which comes with a woven fabric NATO-style strap. The automatic chronograph is completely in line with Montblanc’s commitment to bringing heritage and authenticity together with their strong industrial capabilities, and features the more familiar two-pusher actuation system.
The 1858 Geosphere is reminiscent of the spectacular Tourbillon Cylindrique Geospheres Vasco da Gama that was introduced to the public in 2015, but differs in its entirely practical and intuitive execution of the world-time display alongside the revolving dialside hemispheres that correspond to the north and south halves of our planet. In addition, this watch is dedicated to the Seven Summits challenge, a mountaineering Holy Grail that involves climbing the highest peak in each of the world’s seven continents. Celebrating extraordinary levels of aspiration and human accomplishment is a natural association to make with watchmaking, which, like mountaineering, is as much a mental as well as physical activity.
Last, but not least, are two limited editions of 100 pieces each — the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph in stainless steel with a smoked green dial and the 1858 Pocket Watch, which can be converted to be worn on the wrist as well as in its pocket-watch form. The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph deviates slightly from the previous monopusher chronographs in the 1858 collection in having its chronograph pusher at the 2 o’clock position on the case as opposed to having its pusher integrated with the crown. The 1858 Pocket Watch, however, stays true to its vintage roots and maintains the dual crown-pusher construction.
For all the variety in the new 1858 collection from Montblanc, there is absolutely no doubt about their levels of performance, since all the products have been through the stringent in-house 500 Hours test that ensures each model is up to the standards set by modern lifestyles and Montblanc’s own exacting demands.