We are in an age where wearables are consuming the timepiece market, favoured for their wide uses. This is even more apparent where exercise and the great outdoors are concerned. But for those who enjoy good old-fashioned mechanical movement watches that are designed for durability, the Montblanc 1858 collection is worth a look.
Back in the 1920s and 30s, a particular make of timepiece was favoured for military use and mountain exploration. That make was the Minerva Manufacture, a forerunner of the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. Minerva watches were favoured for its accuracy, legibility, and robust use in extreme conditions. This fine watchmaking heritage spanning over 160 years is the idea behind the Montblanc 1858 collection.
Combining that with the spirit of mountaineering, the Montblanc 1858 collection melds both vintage aesthetics with durable cases and innovative complications. It is truly a timepiece that captures both old world and new world in one distinct watch. In the 1858 collection, we see nods towards the past such as the luminescent cathedral-shaped hands with a “cloisonné” design that is slightly domed, the original 1930s Montblanc logo, and emblem of the Mont Blanc mountain.
Stressing on durability, the pieces from the collection uses living materials like bronze cases and aged calfskin leather straps that would age handsomely, while woven “NATO” straps are handcrafted with a traditional weaving style in France that are incredibly durable yet comfortable. Most importantly, all the timepieces in the collection will undergo over 500 hours of simulated wear with testing under extreme conditions. That’s when you know your 1858 timepiece will withstand the harshest of mountain conditions.
In the 1858 collection, you will find five variations: the Automatic, Automatic Chronograph, Geosphere Limited Edition 1858, Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100, and the Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100.
The Automatic is housed in a 40mm stainless steel case — one of the smallest in the collection. The bronze bezel and fluted crown gives it a distinctive vintage look. The Automatic Chronograph has a 42mm case that’s available in both polished or satin finish. Pick from either a stainless steel or bronze case. Its bi-compax counters positioned at the three and nine o’clock markers were inspired by Minerva’s historic chronographs.
The Geosphere is the star made for mountain exploration — it’s dedicated to the world’s Seven Summit mountaineering challenge, where climbers challenge themselves to ascend the highest mountains from each continent. It also features a new manufacture world time complication powered by the calibre MB 29.25. It has two turning domed hemisphere globes, which makes a full rotation in 24 hours. The Seven Summits are also marked on the globes with red dots — a true tribute to climbers at heart.
As for the Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100, the timepiece pays tribute to the Minerva monopusher chronograph calibre 13.20, which was developed in 1920 to use in its first wristwatches. The 40mm timepiece has a bi-compax dial with a small second counter at the nine o’clock marker, a chronograph 30-minute counter at the three o’clock marker and a tachymeter scale at the outer part of the dial — reminiscent of the original Minerva chronographs.
Finally, the Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100 is one for the collectors. If you are still into old fashioned maps while out in the woods, this pocket watch can be combined with an in-built compass to lay flat on a map. It’s powered by the new Montblanc Manufacture calibre MB M16.24, a monopusher chronograph movement. Find pocket watches too easy to lose? Fear not. It can be fashioned into a wristwatch with a calfskin strap, or held snugly in the hand with a calf strap equipped with a cover.
Now that you’re well equipped for mountaineering, it’s time to explore the world.