Taking inspiration from an original Minerva monopusher chronograph of the 1930s, the 1858 Automatic Chronograph now comes with a blue dial and a new bidirectional steel bezel inset with shiny blue ceramic. The 1858 Chronograph kills two birds with one stone: it gives you the look of a 1930’s Minerva chronograph but manages to keep the price in check by not equipping the watch with one its upscale Minerva chronograph movements. For that kind of a treat, you’d be looking at something like this limited-edition 1858 Monopusher Chronograph with a Minerva movement and a price that exceeds this model more than four times.
A vintage-style bi-compax chronograph originally introduced in 2018, this new iteration of the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph comes with a navy blue dial and a blue ceramic inlay on the bezel engraved with the cardinal points. The addition of the bidirectional compass bezel, identical to the bezel we have just seen on the 1858 Geosphere, situates this chronograph in the brand’s 2020 theme ‘The Spirit of Mountaineering’. The caseback, for example, features an engraving of Mont Blanc, a compass and two crossed ice-pick axes. Intense blue dials designed to evoke bright blue skies at high altitude and icy white touches to suggest glaciers are common features across the 2020 novelties.
New Rotating compass Bezel
The steel case measures a reasonable 42mm and reveals a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. The 14.7mm thickness of the watch means the watch sits high on the wrist. In the vein of military/pilot watches from WWII, the case has a fluted crown and piston-style pushers. With its water-resistance of 100 metres, it comes as a surprise that the crown is not screwed-down. Where it differs from former iterations of the 1858 Chronograph is in the incorporation of a bidirectional steel bezel with a knurled edge for better grip. Inlaid with blue ceramic, the cardinal points are engraved and treated with luminescence. Mountaineers can use the compass bezel in conjunction with the Sun and the hour hand to gauge true north.
Blue Dial and Icy White Details
Identical in layout to the 2018 models, the navy blue dial displays two horizontal registers for the running seconds at 9 o’clock and the 30-minute elapsed time counter at 3 o’clock. Contrasting to the deep blue dial, the white markings are sharp and legible. Super-LumiNova is applied to the cathedral-style hands, the smaller hands on the two counters and the central chronograph seconds hand. The font used for the Arabic numerals and even the way the two sub-dials invade the tips of the hour numerals are similar to the original 1930s Minerva monopusher chronograph. Underscoring its strong vintage vibe, the dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.
Calibre MB 25.13
Behind the sealed caseback is calibre MB 25-13 based on a Sellita SW 510 (itself based on Valjoux 7750) modified by Montblanc to display the small seconds and 30-minute counter without the date feature. An automatic movement beating at 28,800vph, the power reserve is of 48 hours for the central hours, minutes and chronograph seconds, small seconds and 30-min elapsed time counter. The movement is certified by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500.
Strap and Price
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph Blue (ref. 126912) comes with a blue Sfumato calfskin leather strap made at Montblanc’s very own Pelletteria in Florence. It has white stitching and is attached to the wrist with a steel triple-folding clasp. The price will be approximately EUR 4,500 (to be confirmed). More details at montblanc.com.