One of the most original world time watches on the market, Montblanc’s vintage-infused 1858 Geosphere appears in 2020 in colder, more contemporary climbing gear. With its original dual hemisphere layout, the 1858 Geosphere now comes in a grade 5 titanium case and features chilly blue and icy white details on the dial. A well-attired climbing companion to scale the remote Vinson Massif in Antarctica, it is also a watch of enormous character evoking the great outdoors.
Seven Summits Challenge
Introduced in 2018, the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere is a novel world time complication with two rotating globes representing the northern and southern hemispheres. With its deliberate vintage tool watch styling, the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere is Montblanc’s take on the explorer/mountaineering watch – a rugged companion for outdoor adventures with 100m water-resistance to boot. Like previous models, this piece is dedicated to the world’s Seven Summit mountaineering challenge in which climbers tackle the highest mountain in each continent. One of the most formidable mountaineering quests, fewer than 500 athletes have achieved the Seven Summits to date. Each of the Seven Summits (including Mont Blanc) are marked on the rotating globes with light blue dots and engraved on the caseback along with a compass and two crossed ice pick-axes. Underscoring its tool watch nature, mountaineers can use the bidirectional rotating compass bezel in conjunction with the Sun and the hour hand to gauge true north.
World Time on Two Hemispheres
The world time complication was invented in the 1930s by Louis Cottier and displays every time zone simultaneously. To get a feel for what world time watches look like today, take a look at this comparative article here. Infinitely more complex and expensive than GMT, world time displays tend to be pretty busy with a lot of information on the dial. Montblanc approaches the dilemma with an original in-house solution. Two individual domed globes, rotating in opposite directions over a period of 24 hours, represent the northern and southern hemispheres. Both globes are surrounded by a scale with the 24 time zones and a day/night indicator in contrasting colours. A novel solution with a pleasing layout, you might well need a magnifying glass to consult the time in different places around the world given the diminutive scale of the longitude lines involved.
However, if you want a more immediate view of the time in a second zone, there is also a handy sub-dial at 9 o’clock that can track this function. To set the time here, there is a recessed pusher on the side of the case at 10 o’clock that advances in one-hour jumps.
rugged yet lightweight CASe
The bezel on this latest version of the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere is made from stainless steel with a blue ceramic insert and a knurled edge for better grip. The cardinal points are engraved on the ceramic bezel and picked out in white. Although the case is identical to former models, with its 42mm diameter and height of 12.8mm, the use of titanium means that it is lighter on the wrist and colder in looks than the bronze model, for example. The slim curved horns are polished and brushed and sit flush against the wrist although there’s no escaping the somewhat bulky height. However, given the amount of functionality and the adventure-oriented spirit of the watch, it’s a fair trade-off. The watch is water-resistant to 100 metres but the titanium crown is not screwed-down.
Dark Blue Dial
There is quite a plunge between the bezel and the dial adding to a very satisfying sensation of depth enhanced by the domed hemispheres. Evoking the colour of the deepest part of the ocean, the blue dial provides plenty of contrast to the white Arabic numerals and markers on the dial, all generously treated with lume. The continents are accurately represented with relief and also treated with hand-applied luminescent material making this one of the coolest watches to look at in the dark. You can see the light-blue dots representing the Seven Summits on the different continents, the same colour blue used to indicate the longitude reference meridian on both hemispheres. The vintage spirit of the watch is consolidated with the rhodium-coated cathedral-style hour and minute hands (also treated with lume, as is the hand for the second time zone sub-dial at 9 o’clock). Directly opposite the second time zone is a date window, linked to the local time and flanked by the historic Montblanc logo of the 1930s with the outline of the eponymous mountain. What is missing though is a seconds hand…
MB 29.25 Movement
With its engraved caseback, you can’t see the movement. Based on a Selllita SW 300-1, Montblanc has popped its very own world time complication on top. Developed at its manufacture in Villeret (Minerva), this in-house time zone complication had appeared in 2015 in a much more expensive and complicated Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Geosphère Vasco de Gama model. Certified by the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500, the automatic movement beats at 28,800vph and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing this watch. It is unlike any world time model on the market and packed with functionality and character. From the functional compass bezel evoking the great outdoors to the beautifully rendered continents on the domed rotating hemispheres, this watch is buzzing with animation (wait till you see this watch glow in the dark!). Fair enough, it doesn’t have a seconds hand and consulting world time is kind of tricky, but the additional second time-zone counter is a very clever back-up function. Although Montblanc might be trying to pitch the watch in a more contemporary, ‘colder and cooler urban’ package, this watch makes you want to go and pack your carabiners, crampons and ice axes and start scaling all those imaginary summits.
Straps and price
This Montblanc 1858 Geosphere in titanium comes with two choices for the strap. One is a blue Sfumato calfskin strap with white stitching matching the colour of the dial and made at Montblanc’s Pelletteria in Florence with a triple-folding clasp made from titanium. The other option, a novelty in the collection, is a matte, satin-finished bi-metal titanium and stainless steel bracelet with a steel triple-folding clasp. Price for the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere will be EUR 5,600 on leather strap, with the metal bracelet adding EUR 300 to the bill. More details at monbtlanc.com.