Review: Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100

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Inspired by the 46 mm Minerva military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s, the new limited edition pays tribute to the origins of the Manufacture. The timepiece goes beyond a simple re-edition, keeping key elements of the original model while integrating vintage twists. Equipped with the Manufacture monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29, the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins features a 46 mm case made of a special alloy of bronze, a distinctive “officer” case back, a vintage black dial with beige elements, and a matching brown Sfumato alligator strap.

Review: Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100

The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins is completed with a brand-new vintage-style brown Sfumato alligator strap with beige stitching and is strictly limited to 100 pieces, and priced at SGD43,500.

The Case and Dial

The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins case has been made in a special alloy ofbronze that will obtain an attractive patina over time and is reminiscent of exploration tools from the past. An “officer” case back has been added, just like in traditional pocket watches, protecting the movement, which is adorned with distinctive engravings on both sides.

This alloy is different from the bronze used in the Panerai’s Bronzo which are intended to patina to give a molted and uneven look which is the appeal of the Panerai’s chunky design. The alloy used by Montblanc (and Tudor) is intended to patina evenly, and can acquire a nice tone within 3-6 weeks.

We take a closer look at the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in bronze where we see the watch giving the collection an entirely different feel with its vintage elements. The attention to detail is impressive; the material changes for case and movement and even the choice of straps is in tandem with the vintage theme.

The timepiece comes with a black dial that has been paired with contrasting rose gold-coloured cathedral-shaped hands and numerals with beige Super-LumiNova® for greater legibility at night. This enhanced readability continues onto the Arabic numerals as well as on the hour and minute hands thanks to additional touches of luminescence.

A nod to the original chronograph comes in the form of a Minerva logo on the dial that is symmetrically positioned below the historical Montblanc logo at 6 o’clock. Other vintage details include bi-compax counters with large small seconds and minutes chronograph, as well as a railway minute track that have all been reproduced from the original design.

The outside of the “officer” case back features the head of the Minerva Goddess. The inside of the cover bears the inscription “Réédition du chronographe militaire Minerva des années 1930 doté d’un calibre fait main dans la pure tradition horlogère suisse” (Re-edition of a Minerva military chronograph from the 1930s equipped with a hand- made calibre following the Swiss watchmaking tradition).

Montblanc uses a very innovative technique to create the image of the Minerva Goddess on the “officer” back giving it an authentic rendering in 3-dimensions, providing depth and realism as if it was a photograph. Made of titanium, the metal must first be structured, which means that the decoration will be engraved by laser, taking into consideration the relief of the drawing. Then the desired finish (matt and shiny) is also achieved by laser. Finally comes the colouring phase. The colours are created by laser-generated oxidation. It is the level of oxidation that determines the final colour obtained (and desired).

The Movement

When opening the “officer” case back, the beauty of the Manufacture monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29 is revealed, showing an authentic reconstruction of the Minerva chronograph calibre dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.

For this limited edition, the execution of the movement is of particular note as the mainplate and bridges have been left in raw Maillechort (also called “German-silver”), a high-end traditional material used in Minerva movements in former times. The Maillechort gives a slightly yellowish finish, rather than the more common rhodium coating.

Traditional finishings such as Côtes de Genève, inner angles, circular graining, and bevelling are, of course, all performed at the same Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret. Like on the original chronograph calibre, the MB M16.29 features the iconic V-shape bridge (whose design was protected in 1912), a column wheel, horizontal coupling, and a traditional frequency of 18,000 A/h. As a tribute to historical movements, the Minerva arrow is visible at the extremity of the chronograph “blocker”.

The movement provides a power reserve of approximately 50 hours and it operates at 18,000 bph which is comparatively slower to most watches these days that operate at a higher beat.

Concluding Thoughts

The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is a military inspired bronze cased monopusher with vintage styling of the 1930’s. It is possibly our favorite iteration of the bronze monopushers, with the most proportionate dial by doing without the tachymeter. The logo at 6 is also a nice military dial touch, not to mention the artfully designed officer’s case. While many would have preferred a hand engraved caseback rather than an automated laser engraving, it is nonetheless a feature of today’s world, and a future zeitgeist representation of our today’s manufacturing techniques.

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