Here's something you don't see every day: a lime gold monopusher chronograph.
That strange combination of words isn't the only thing that sets this watch apart, of course. In addition to its alluring material and unique color scheme, Montblanc's new 1858 Split-Second Chronograph LE 18 is full of features and details that make it a great example of collector-focused high-end watchmaking — or, if you're one of the many who can't afford its $50,000 price tag or get their hands on one of the 18 examples to be produced, however, worth sitting back and simply appreciating.
So, other than a Porsche paint color, what is "lime gold?" It's an alloy of gold, silver and iron that results in a subtly verdant tint. (Similar alloys called "green gold" are known to have been used for millennia, and familiar gold alloys like red, pink and rose gold are a similar concept, but far more common.) The luminescent dial highlights and strap color further inject a green optical effect — so it's hard to tell to exactly what degree the hue comes from the material itself.
Either way, the look is striking — and it's further emphasized by a dial color matching its 44mm case and a couple under-the-radar elements in contrasting yellow gold. That spiral on the dial is a tachymeter scale (for measuring speed) while a telemeter scale (for measuring distances) sits around the dial's periphery. (You can read more on how these scales are used here.)
The design is loosely based on a historical watch made in the 1930s by Minerva (which was actually larger, at 46mm). This modern reinterpretation is produced from start to finish in the Minerva manufacturing facilities that Montblanc acquired in 2006.
It's not only the external design that's vintage-inspired. The manually wound MB M16.31 movement inside is also based on those used in Minerva watches of the same era, and it's visible in all its intricate, extensively hand-finished glory through the watch's wide case back window. It runs at a not-very-modern 2.5Hz and offers a monopusher chronograph, meaning the stopwatch feature is operated via a single button integrated into the crown. Another button at 2 o'clock functions similarly for a seconds hand that can be used to independently and simultaneously time another event. (This type of complicated chronograph is called a split-second or rattrapante.)
Modern horology is often at its best when its able to present a dense mix of features and complicated details in an elegant and straightforward-seeming way — and this is exactly what Montblanc has accomplished. Following another recent example of a monopusher chrono with a recreated vintage movement, Montblanc is on a roll with halo pieces that emphasize its history and current expertise. But with only a dozen and a hand to be made, even if you've got the $50k, you'll need to act quickly if you want to get your hands on this one.