The last time we saw a Montblanc 1858 Chronograph, it was a Tachymeter Limited Edition In Bronze. It equipped with a manually wound chronograph calibre reminiscent of the legendary calibre 19.09 (19 lines / launched in 1909), featuring the recognizable V-Chrono shaped bridge and it eventually got nominated for GPHG 2017. For SIHH 2018 Montblanc introduces a new 1858 Automatic Chronograph inspired by the legendary professional Minerva watches from the 1920s and 30s that were meant for military use and mountain exploration.
The 1858 collection is a homage to the 160 years of the Minerva Manufacture and its extraordinary heritage; the new Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph feels like an odd (for reasons we will make clear in a minute) but appealing choice for a heritage edition.
SIHH 2018 Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph
First, the new SIHH 2018 Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph combines a strong vintage aesthetic with a chronograph function and though it follows design heritage of the Minerva Monopusher chronograph, the subdials on this edition are larger and closer together as opposed to the vintage model.
Available in a stainless steel or bronze case, the 42 mm 1858 Automatic Chronograph features both polished and satin finishing for utmost refinement and comes with a domed sapphire crystal glass box, highlighting the robustness and the vintage appeal however unlike the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter variants, one niggling aspect feels oddly (if accurately) out of place – those monopusher chronograph models featured sapphire casebacks where the finely decorated movements with hand chamfered and hand decorated chronograph calibre 16.29 – the manually wound nature of the movement embodies the spirit of the era while the open caseback was oddly anachronistic (sapphire backs didn’t exist nor was it the sort of thing watch collectors were into at the time); Comparatively, the latest Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph features closed casebacks, which while period accurate, feels somewhat disappointing because we don’t get to see high horology Minerva finishing that we have grown accustomed to.
For the bronze model, the case back comes in titanium coated in bronze to avoid allergies. The case back has been engraved with the emblematic Mont Blanc mountain, a compass and two crossed ice pick-axes, as a nod to the spirit of mountain exploration. Nevertheless, this SIHH 2018 Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph kicks off our coverage for the brand because there is a ton of aesthetic appeal recalling the old school bundeswehr chronographs produced for military pilots.
The bronze model with smoked champagne-coloured dial with sunray finishing, is the closest in terms of aesthetics to the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in Bronze, providing an elegant backdrop for the bi-compax counters positioned at three and nine o’clock. The dial is completed with beige luminescent Arabic numerals and cathedral-shaped hands that are slightly domed and have been enhanced with SuperLumiNova. For both stainless steel and bronze 1858 Automatic Chronograph variants, the muse from Minerva’s historic chronographs are self-evident.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph Price and Specs
Case Stainless steel or bronze with 100m water resistance
Movement Automatic in-house Calibre MB 25.11 with 48 hours power reserve
Strap Lined black and grey “NATO” strap or a cognac-coloured aged calfskin strap with beige stitching