Montblanc’s two core collections draw inspiration from history as well as mountain exploration.
It was all about the spirit of exploration and adventure for Montblanc at the recent Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Alpine foliage, wood and rocks greeted guests at the booth, set fittingly against a huge backdrop of mountains complete with moving clouds. What a sight (especially for dreary-eyed Singapore journos battling jetlag!).
The 1858 Collection
The booth’s lush ambiance alluded to the first highlights of the brand presentation – new additions to the brand’s highly successful 1858 collection. While blue watches were heavily featured in many brands’ novelty collections, Montblanc went with a nature-inspired colour palette, dressing 3 out of 5 of the new 1858 timepieces with a rich khaki green dial – a hue reminiscent of velvety dark moss – encased in bronze. The timepieces also feature matching green NATO straps which are handcrafted in France.
This family of green watches comprise three new models: the Automatic in full-bronze case with green dial or steel case with black dial; and the Automatic Chronograph with a 42mm full bronze case fitted with the MB 25.11 self-winding movement. In addition, the acclaimed Geosphere which was launched last year with a black dial returns this year in a green dial in a bronze case. All 4 watches have been certified by the ‘Montblanc Laboratory Test 500’, and are produced in limited quantities of 1858 pieces each except for the 1858 Automatic with steel case (which is on regular production).
The star of this year’s 1858 collection is the 1858 Split Second Chronograph, produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces. Inspired by a military chronograph made by Minerva in the 1930s, this impressive bronze encased timepiece features a Minerva style beautifully finished, traditionally constructed split second chronograph movement.
Being a mono-pusher chronograph also means that the start, stop and reset functions are controlled solely by the pusher at the crown; while the split-seconds pusher is positioned at 2 o’clock. The dial design is very similar to the original Minerva watch from the 1930s, featuring a snail-patterned tachymeter scale at the centre of the dial, as well as beige Arabic numerals. The impressive Minerva-crafted manual-winding Calibre M16.31, on full display through the sapphire caseback, consists of 262 components and provides a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound.
The Heritage Collection
Montblanc also paid tribute to its classic timepieces from yesteryear with its Heritage collection, by offering very elegant watches inspired by iconic models made by Minerva in the 1940s and 1950s. The new Heritage timepieces focus very much on the purity of design as well as the finishing of the movement – two characteristics that Minerva-made watches were known for.
6 new models were presented at SIHH 2019, ranging from the basic three-hand Montblanc Heritage Automatic, to the highly complicated Montblanc Heritage Perpetual Calendar. All 6 models feature domed watch dials, new manufacture movements, and Sfumato-alligator straps from Montblanc’s own pelleteria in Florence. Water resistant to 5 bars, the watches have all been certified by the ‘Montblanc Laboratory Test 500’.
Here are three of our favourites.
Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition 100
This headliner piece of the collection features a 40mm diameter steel case with an alluring salmon dial, a colour combination much-loved by vintage watch fans. The domed dial is finished with two different textures, and on its outer ring is a blue pulsograph scale calibrated to 30 pulsations, referencing the wristwatches used by doctors in the past to check patients’ heart rates. On the chronograph subdials, there are 3, 6- and 9-minute markers which recall the use of old-school payphones. Arabic numerals are in anthracite, hour and minute hands made in Dauphine-style, and chronograph hands are in blue.
What would excite watch aficionados is the beautifully finished hand-wound manufacture movement Calibre MB 13.21, visible through the sapphire caseback. This monopusher column-wheel chronograph movement is based on the historical Calibre 13.20 monopusher chronograph movement produced by Minerva in the 1920s, offering 55 hours power reserve when fully wound. This watch is produced in a limited quantity of 100 pieces.
Heritage Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition 100
This is the most complicated model within this year’s Heritage collection novelties, presenting a brand new manufacture movement – Calibre MB 29.22 – which took 3 years to develop. Watch lovers who are apprehensive of perpetual calendar movements due to the time-setting complexity will rejoice. This Calibre MB 29.22 allows the user a simpler way of setting time by turning the crown in both directions, made possible by fact that this movement was created with only wheels, compared to many perpetual calendar movements which rely on levers.
It also has a new safety feature to prevent damage to the movement, where the user cannot adjust the time within a certain time frame. Contrasting markers in blue and red, as well as well balanced sub-counters, also ensure that every detail on the dial is clear and legible. The movement has a 48-hour power reserve, and a practical dual-time function. While the regular steel model will be on regular production, the red gold model has a limited production of only 100 pieces.
If you prefer simpler designs with practical complications, the Heritage GMT is an option to consider. Featuring a 40mm polished steel case, details on the domed silvery-white dial are kept simple: applied Arabic numerals in matching colour to the case; the second hand, GMT hand and the 24 hour GMT display markers in blue. This practical and stylish timepiece is powered by an automatic movement. The white dial model also comes in with either Sfumato alligator straps or a steel Milanese mesh bracelet. The salmon dial version features grey Sfumato alligator straps.
Images courtesy of Montblanc. Additional styled watch images by Curatedition at SIHH 2019. All rights reserved.