Beyond the luxury writing instruments that it’s been manufacturing since the turn of the last century, Montblanc has been establishing itself in the watch business since the turn of this century: 1997. Nine years later, Montblanc acquired Minerva, a watch company specializing in mechanical movements founded in 1858 in Villeret in the Swiss Jura. The acquisition allowed Montblanc to try its hand at fine watchmaking, elevating its offering with the Villeret 1858 and Nicolas Rieussec collections. Celebrating its 12-year-long history with Minerva, Montblanc has released the 1858 collection this month to mark Minerva’s 160-year history in watchmaking.
The premiere piece in the collection is the slim 40 mm stainless-steel Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph, which is limited to just 100 pieces (price upon request) and features a derivative caliber—the 13.21—of the historic Minerva caliber 13.20. Developed in the early ’20s, the movement was one of the few chronograph calibers available to the public in a wristwatch at the time of its introduction. This timepiece’s 13.21 caliber features a column wheel monopusher design with a start, stop, and reset function controlled by a single pusher located at two o’clock. The sapphire crystal caseback reveals the hand-finished, manually wound movement. The dial features a bi-compax design with a small seconds counter at nine o’clock, a chronograph 30-minute counter at three o’clock, and a tachymeter scale on the outer part of the dial. The forest-green dial with beige-colored indices and hands along with the green crocodile strap made in Montblanc’s artisan workshop in Florence, Italy, are the crowning touches on this handsome timepiece.
The new collection also features four other models: a 40 mm stainless-steel automatic watch ($2,670), a 42 mm chronograph ($4,300 in stainless steel and $5,000 in bronze), a 42 mm Manufacture Worldtime Geosphere ($5,600 for stainless steel or $6,300 for bronze, limited to 1,858 pieces), and a new multipurpose pocket watch with a 24-hour indication (price upon request, limited to 100), which is equipped with a 16-line monopusher chronograph movement. All come with satin-finished cases, which have been slimmed down with polished, beveled edges and fluted crowns along with domed sapphire crystal glass boxes. Each model features luminescent cathedral-shaped hands with a cloisonné design, Arabic numerals coated in Super-Luminova, railway minute tracks, and the original Montblanc logo from the ’30s. In line with the recent frenzy for vintage-looking timepieces, this new collection delivers all of the design appeal of vintage watches, with great price points and quality movements to match.