A closer look at Montblanc's new vintage-style military watches
Established in 1858, Montblanc's watch workshop of Minerva in the Saint-Imier valley of Switzerland became legendary for professional watches—accurate, dependable, robust—that were used in the military and also for mountain exploration.
In particular, the manufacture became known for a pocket watch that can be wound without a key, stopwatches that could track the smallest part of a second, and the first manually wound mono-pusher chronograph.
Montblanc, the watchmaker, looks to 160 years of the manufacture's mastery, specifically to its pocket watches and chronographs from the '20s and '30s, for a new set of for-outdoors watches with vintage looks.
The Montblanc 1858 collection highlights the spirit of mountain exploration, expressing, as it points out, the trend of returning to nature and going on adventures. When worn on the wrist, these watches will compel the most loyal creature of the city to conquer the wild or, at least, move a metaphorical mountain.
The 1858 Automatic
The vintage aesthetic is most prominent in this blonde permutation: a smoked Champagne-colored face, beige Arabic numerals, golden cathedral-shaped hands, bronze bezel, fluted crown, and a cognac-hued aged calfskin strap. This distinct language is echoed throughout the collection. Notably, the stainless-steel case of the Automatic skews small at 40 mm, emphasising, even more, the throwback feel. A black face and a NATO strap are also available.
The 1858 Automatic Chronograph
This is similar to the above, differing only with the addition of a chronograph function (counters at three and nine o'clock) and the option of a bronze case. Larger at 42 mm, the Chronograph comes with a domed sapphire crystal glass box, another detail that imparts the vintage feeling. See also the reverse, which is engraved with an image of the Mont Blanc mountain, a compass, and two crossed ice pick-axes.
The 1858 Geosphere
A new worldtime complication, the calibre MB 29.25, is the highlight. The domed hemisphere globes found at top and bottom move in different directions.
Apart from the worldtime function, the watch is filled more details to obsess about, including the Sfumato aged calf leather Bund strap, the seven red dots (to mark the highest mountain from each continent), and a bronze case that is limited to 1,858 pieces.
The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition 100
Sometimes, you need to dream, and the dream arrives in the form of a green watch in a series of only 100. The combination of the smoked green dial with a green alligator strap (from the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence) and the fact that there is is a singlr pusher (versus the many buttons of the chronograph mentioned earlier on the list) make this watch special. That and its connection to the Minerva mono-pusher chronograph calibre 13.20 of 1920.
The 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100
And sometimes the dream is big. The pocket watch may not be the most practical equipment in the context of smartphones, but that's the point. This analogue device is the most potent reminder of the Minerva Manufacture and its excellence of watchmaking.
But, really, this can be used in different ways: It can be positioned on a table with a stand, laid flat on a map and, with its built-in compass, used for adventures, worn on the wrist via a calfskin strap, or held in hand.
Montblanc points out how there are 50 elements that make this special pocket watch adaptable for whatever moment in exploration. If you fancy yourself a modern Marco Polo, this is the one for you.