While most of the watches produced by Montblanc fall into the accessible luxury category, there’s one line that talks explicitly to us here, at MONOCHROME, and these are the Minerva-branded models. Often powered by historical hand-wound chronograph movements finished to high-end standards, they combine fine watchmaking with a desirable vintage 1920s and 1930s look – a combination that we’ve seen in this watch, for example. The latest model to surface from the depths of the Minerva manufacture is a tribute to the Red Arrow watch, a monopusher Montblanc 1858 Minerva with stunning looks.
According to Montblanc, the Villeret-based Minerva manufacture was one of the first watchmakers to make a fluted bezel and an internal countdown rotating bezel back in 1927. This was followed in 1939 by the brand’s first wrist chronograph with an external rotating bezel and a reset function. Both models, now part of Montblanc’s historical collection, have inspired the present watch, including the red arrow linked to the rotating bezel, allowing for instant calculations.
With a design that is typical of early pilot’s chronographs of the first half of the 20th century, there are no major surprises here. We’re in familiar territory, at least when it comes to MB’s top-of-the-range Minerva-powered models. Large Arabic numerals, luminous hands, contrasting dials with multiple tracks and indications – all typical features of the collection. What’s new in this Montblanc 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow LE88 is the presence of an external, fluted rotating bezel in 18k white gold. Paired with a red arrow marker around the dial, it permits tracking elapsed times and can also be used as a countdown timer by rotating the bezel so that the red arrow is positioned at a specific time in the future.
As mentioned, the dial of the Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow LE88 harks back to early pilot’s watches. Executed in jet black, it features large numerals and hands covered in beige SLN. You’ll also find a telemeter on the periphery and a tachymeter (base 1000) in the dial’s centre in a colimaçon snail shape. The display is classic, with a bicompax layout with small seconds at 9 o’clock and 30-minute register at 3 o’clock. And, of course, no date.
This new limited edition is housed in a relatively large stainless steel case of 42mm with brushed surfaces and polished accents on the bezel and the sides of the lugs. It is worn on a black alligator strap with beige stitching and closed by a folding clasp.
Powering the watch is the highlight of this Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow, the in-house calibre MB M13.21. Designed and built around the architecture of an old 1920s Minerva movement, it is a classic hand-wound monopusher chronograph with a column wheel and horizontal coupling. The specifications are intentionally outdated, with a 2.5Hz frequency and a large screwed balance – but that’s part of the charm of this movement. The view through the sapphire caseback is pleasant, as we know how well this movement is finished. It features the signature V bridge and arrow-shaped “devil’s tail” typical of Minerva, and all the parts are decorated with great care.
The Montblanc 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow LE88 will be a limited edition of 88 pieces. The price is yet to be confirmed but should be in excess of EUR 30,000. For more details, please visit montblanc.com.