Monochrome Watches
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The Delightful Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph

Montblanc once again takes the veils down to bring out the inner beauty of the Minerva movement.

| By Denis Peshkov | 5 min read |

This spring, Montblanc introduced the latest addition to the Unveiled Minerva series, the Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph. Like the 2022-2023 releases, the Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronographs, it showcases the beautiful mechanics of the underlying movement in an exciting and visually captivating way. The new Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph continues the inverted calibre concept with a fresh twist. We are happy to share our hands-on experience, allowing you to decide which version you prefer.

The Case of Five Windows

The new Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph is an openworked piece of horology. Typically, openworked designs focus on the dial or movement, but this timepiece extends the concept to its 43mm stainless steel case. Featuring a fixed white gold fluted bezel, a nod to Minerva’s 1927 design, the case combines a satin and polished finish and maintains the same shape as the 2023 Unveiled Secret, albeit slightly thicker (14.78mm vs 14.18mm).

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Distinctive sapphire openings on the case sides – flanking the fluted monopusher crown adorned with Montblanc’s star logo – and additional windows at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock facilitate flooding the interior with light, revealing more components for admiration. A scratch-resistant, domed box-shaped sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating tops the dial, while the solid caseback, secured by six functional screws, is engraved with an image of the historic Minerva manufacture and logos, including RFV for Robert Frères, Villeret. The watch’s water resistance is 3 bar (30m); it is designed to captivate with its craftsmanship rather than endure extreme conditions.

The Transparent Dial

The openworked sapphire dial of the new Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph perfectly complements its concept. This transparent cut-out dial features a minutes/seconds chapter ring on the periphery with baton indices. Three transparent and subtly marked rings span the centre. The running seconds subdial ring at 9 o’clock and the 30-minute chronograph counter ring at 3 o’clock are connected via the overlapping central ring, which only displays the historic Montblanc logo and the MB M17.26 movement reference.

The indices and rhodium-coated hour and minute hands have a white luminescent coating and provide easy time reading. However, the markings on the rings and chapter ring can become almost invisible at times, as if intentionally minimizing distractions and allowing an unobstructed view into the intricate calibre.

The Flipped Movement

The MB M17.26 movement, like its predecessors, the MB M16.26 or the classically encased M16.29, is an inverted mono-pusher mechanism designed to showcase its intricate works on the dial side of the watch. The movement is constructed on pillars, allowing more light to illuminate the components – you can clearly see the pillars through the side windows. Signature design elements, such as the arrowhead-tipped lever and the V-shaped bridge, are prominently featured, with the chronograph bridge bearing the Minerva Villeret logo now positioned atop the movement.

Montblanc states that the bridge design was inspired by the mountain views from the watchmakers’ window in Villeret and was patented in 1912. The arrowhead tip of the bridge pays homage to the Roman goddess Minerva, who is often depicted carrying a spear. However, the devil’s tail shape of the chronograph lever adds a whimsical touch, suggesting that those watchmakers of the past had quite an imaginative flair.

Jokes aside, the large, 38.4mm movement comprising 291 parts is impeccably finished, with blue-plated plates and bridges providing a notable contrast to the gold-plated going train wheels and the 14.5mm diameter balance wheel with screws. The column wheel is hard to miss. With this watch’s transparency, you can test your knowledge of chronograph movements by identifying the visible parts – an exercise worthy of a sophisticated idle fellow like yourself. You might also appreciate the subtle details, such as the tiny arrow painted onto the hour hand and the blue arrow-shaped tip of the chronograph minutes totalizer. The chronograph’s central seconds hand also sports the same blue hue, adding to the overall harmony of the design.

The MB M17.26 manually wound movement operates at 18,000 vibrations/hour frequency, it has a power reserve of about 50 hours, and the watch is certified by the Montblanc Laboratory 500-hour test, which includes a multitude of start/stop/reset chronograph operations via the integrated monopusher, so you can be sure of its impeccable performance. The Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph is worn on a blue leather strap with an alligator print and is secured on the wrist with a steel triple-folding clasp. It is a limited edition of 100 pieces; the price is EUR 49,000.

Concluding Thoughts

Two things kept “bothering” me while preparing these notes on the new Montblanc 1858 Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph, the first being the silly idea that a movement like this should be offered to the public uncased, for the case with all its qualities and apertures to facilitate enjoyment of the MB M17.26 calibre’s works, is an obstacle. The second is more sensible, a desire to see the same watch and calibre, without the blue-plated components. Perlage, stripes, etc, would do it for me with the sapphire dial. This said the new Unveiled Minerva Monopusher is an exciting watch, an exquisite display of modern watchmaking capabilities rooted in the distant mechanical past. It is a delightful timepiece that may prompt someone to learn more about Minerva’s past chronograph designs and look for a vintage calibre where the devil’s tail-shaped component first appeared. The Unveiled Minerva Monopusher Chronograph is an exemplar that makes watches such a fun hobby!

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2 responses

  1. I really like Minerva chronograph movements but they’ve made this one into a ridiculously tall watch, and managed to make it look like a mall watch from 2 meters onwards.

  2. a very nice chronograph Monopusher but large and very expensive to see hoe it works.

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