Editor’s Note: Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) has moved online and Baselworld 2020 is canceled, but that hasn’t stopped watch brands large and small from debuting their new wares. Stay on top of this year’s best new watch releases here.
Montblanc has added two new entries to its vintage-inspired 1858 collection, including a monopusher chronograph and a beautiful and a new 24-hour complication. A few weeks ago, the Geosphere and Split Seconds Chronographs were given icy blue dial treatments — here, bronze takes on a more central role in the design.
The 1858 collection, as you may know, leverages the historic Minerva factory, now owned by Montblanc, for the aesthetics of its early- to mid-20th century watches, as well as its modern production capacity. Hence the more-than-passing resemblance to many watches and pocket watches from the 1930s — the sort of things that you’d see in Montblanc’s Villeret building, previously home to the Minvera watch factory.
1858 Geosphere Blue Dial
The Geosphere is one of the most innovative takes on the world time complication in modern watchmaking. Available in several different colorways, for 2020 it’s been given an icy blue dial, bezel and strap.
Key Specs: $4,800; 42mm wide; world time complication
1858 Second Split Chronograph LE
The Split Second Chronograph was previously available in a bronze case with a black dial. The new steel version is even more expensive than the original ($36,000), but it’s got an incredible, hand-finished movement and wild blue dial.
Key Specs: $36,000; 44mm wide in titanium; split-seconds chronograph
1858 Automatic 24H
This cool new single-hand, 24-hour complication from Montbalnc allows you to use the new 1858 Automatic 24H as both a watch and a compass. Thought reading the dial might take some getting used to — and the lack of a traditional handset might throw you — we say the 24H is possibly the coolest piece in the collection after the Geosphere.
Key Specs: $3,030; 42mm steel and bronze case; 24-hour complication
Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition
The Monopusher Chronograph LE sees Montblanc really flexing its watchmaking muscles. Reinterpreting a historical Minerva chronograph with calibre 13.20 movement from the 1930s, the LE is now available with a black dial in a 42mm bronze case, or in steel on either a beads of rice bracelet or a calfskin strap.
Key Specs: $5,200-$5,600; 42mm bronze or steel case; monopusher chronograph
The vintage aesthetic is still very much “in,” and while you’ll see it across most of Montblanc’s collections, 1858 is unique in that it’s a modern reinterpretation of early-20th century Minerva watchmaking. Every piece largely harkens back to something older, and given the level of refinement and execution, that’s totally fine by us. Given the development cycle in watchmaking, some of the new models above are simply new dial colors of older pieces in the collection, but the 24H is a completely new animal.
We love the mix of small updates and serious innovation here. The 24H may not cater to the tastes of every watch lover — or even the “average” watch lover — but it pushes the envelope just a bit, which is something we need more of in watchmaking these days. If every three years or so, we get something like the Geosphere or the 24H, it seems worth the endless dial variations and case material changes.
What’s more, the 1858 collection spans a truly wide-reaching price range, from the well sub-Rolex level right through to the “WTF Did I Just Do” level. This, combined with gorgeous aesthetics and superb craftsmanship, means the 1858 line is still a winner in our book.
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