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Press Release and Review – Montblanc 1858 Collection in Bronze

With hands-on analysis and live photographs, specs and price.
by Simon Neo on December 8, 2016
Positives

Choice of Bronze as a material, gives the watch a vintage look

Exceptional movement, the Calibre MB M16.29 is a proven winner at the GPHG, big plus point

As part of pre-SIHH preview for 2017, Montblanc has released new looks for its 1858 collection, offering a completely different interpretation with a vintage bronze look. The three new bronze releases within the collection includes a Montblanc 1858 Chronometer Tachymeter Limited Edition 100, a Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time and a Montblanc 1858 Automatic timepiece.

We have mentioned in the past how impressed we were with the work Montblanc is doing since it acquired Minerva back in 2006. We all thought it would just be one of those acquisitions for name sake purposes but rather, it has done wonders to transform the way Montblanc makes and presents its watches.

 

The Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter. Now in a bronze case. This model in SS won the GPHG 2016 Award for Best Chronograph.

 

This point was substantiated at the recent Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) where Montblanc grabbed the winning prize in the chronograph category, recognising the exceptional work it has done with the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in terms of design and movement finishing. For 2017, we see the 1858 collection going back in time and reminiscing the beautiful vintage Minerva designs back in the 1930s, using Minerva military chronographs as a source of inspiration.

 

The bronze alloy used is high in aluminium, and is the exact same alloy that Tudor uses for its Black Bay Bronze.

 

To allow the timepiece to achieve that vintage style and look, we see the collection introducing bronze as a new material which is of no surprise. Many watch brands like Panerai, Tudor or even Zenith chose bronze, an alloy of copper and steel, to give the watches an aged or vintage look specifically because the material can change its appearance over time with a vintage-looking matte patina.

According to Davide Cerrato, currently Managing Director of Montblanc, much attention and effort has been expended to research the perfect alloy of bronze that allows the watch to have its own unique appearance, developing its own patina that reflects the owner’s lifestyle. It is no surprise that as Davide was the Artistic Director at Tudor when they introduced the Tudor Black Bay Bronze, the specific alloy (Cupro-aluminium) used on the Montblanc is the same. 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.

 

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in Bronze. Limited Edition of 100 pieces.

 

The Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in Bronze is limited to an edition size of 100 pieces.

 

Case, Dial and Hands

The new 1858 collection releases had their designs centred around a vintage theme and more specifically, the releases used Minerva military chronograph designs back in the 1930s as a base to work on.

 

The dial is reminiscent of vintage dials. The light champagne hue of the dial and the luminova numerals which have a patina of cream reminds one of the faded tritiium dials of the past.

 

We can clearly see the above with the dial design where it features a vintage shaped crown, classic minute railway tracks along with large cathedral hands sweeping across a beautifully designed retro-vintage champagne dial that has a sunray finish to complement the bronze casing. We do note that the crown on the prototype we examined was a bit rough, and threatened to scratch or even cut when winding or manipulating it. Hopefully this is only an issue of the prototype and Montblanc will finish the crow smoother in production pieces.

For any purist, this is a dial design that would appeal to them, the well-spaced counters at the respective 3 and 9 o’clock positions add to give the watch a simple but elegant look along with other elements of the watch. These coupled with an excellent choice of colours for the hands and dial certainly helps in delivering that vintage look. From a functional perspective, the hands and markers are filled with Super-LumiNova, enhancing legibility of the dial even in dark conditions.

 

The Movement

Here comes the most exciting part where the Minerva connection allows the watch to stand out from the crowd. This release features the award-winning Calibre MB M16.29, a manually wound monopusher chronograph with tachymeter scale. The MB M 16.29 calibre was inspired by the original 17.29 calibre designed for pocket watches and wristwatches back in the 1930s.This new iteration of the movement features newer finishings such as inside angles, Côtes de Genève stripes and circular graining, exhibiting the exceptional craftsmanship and honouring the traditions of Minerva.

 

The case back displaying the magnificent movement. Now with elements which are rose gold plated to further enhance the vintage feel.

 

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. From first glance, we see a distinct difference on the movement where the movement plates and bridges are red gold-plated and we love it because it complements so well with the bronze casing and the vintage theme. It is also worth noting that the movement is entirely handmade in-house in the Villeret factory and that all components used are also made in-house, giving excellent value to the watch.

 

Detail of the movement showcasing the fine finishing of the steel chronograph parts and the gold plated bridges.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

The release of the 1858 collection in bronze is a splendid idea because the choice of material allows the collection to achieve its vintage style of the 1930’s. What we particularly like about the new releases is the attention to detail from the choice of colour in the movement to the choice of straps where it features cognac alligator straps and satinated bronze plated buckles, complementing the overall design of the watch. The overall aesthetic has a very vintage feel, although the military element is largely missing from the Chronograph Tachymeter.

 

On the wrist, the watch does have a decidedly vintage feel. Adding to this effect is the gradual, and even changing hues of the bronze case.

 

Next, there is nothing to debate about the movement, it has already proven itself to be a winner at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) and the finishing of the movement is impeccable and honours the traditions and high watchmaking standards which Minerva has been known for years.

Being a limited-edition release at 100 pieces, we are certain this release would have an excellent reception and sell out fast. We think this release comes to show how far Montblanc has come in terms of watchmaking and hope they continue to make great strides in this endeavour for excellence. The Chronograph Tachymeter in Bronze is priced at € 27,500 inclusive of German VAT. This is smack at mid-point between the previous (now sold out) versions in steel (€ 25,000) and gold (€ 30,000).

To complete the collection, Minerva also released two further models priced more modestly. The Montblanc 1858 Dual Time and the 1858 Automatic feature a very military looking black dial with a two tone bronze/stainless steel case. Visually, we feel these two watches have acheived the vintage military aesthetic perhaps more successfully than the Chronograph Tachymeter. These are entry level models priced at € 3,490 inclusive of German VAT for the Automatic, and € 4,990 inclusive of German VAT for the Dual Time. The movements used in these are based on the Selita SW200, with the Dual Time sporting an in-house manufactured complications module attached.

 

Technical Specifications

 

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100

 

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze.

 

Ident. 116243

Movement                          Montblanc Manufacture Calibre MB M16.29

Type of movement             Manually wound monopusher chronograph with tachymeter scale

Chronograph                      Monopusher with column-wheel and horizontal coupling

Dimensions                        Diameter = 38.4 mm; height = 6.3 mm

Number of components     252

Number of rubies               22

Power reserve                    Approx. 50 hours

Balance                              Screw balance, diameter = 14.5 mm; moment of inertia = 59 mgcm2

Frequency                          18,000 A/h (2.5 Hz)

Hairspring                          With Phillips terminal curve

Plate                                  Red gold-plated (4N) German silver with circular graining on both sides

Bridges                               Red gold-plated (4N) German silver with “Côtes de Genève”

Going-train                        Gold-plated, faceted arms, diamond polished surfaces

Displays

  • Hours and minutes from the center
  • Small seconds at “9 o’clock”
  • Chronograph’s elapsed-seconds hand from the dial’s center
  • Counter for 30 elapsed minutes at “3 o’clock”
  • Tachymeter scale

Habillage

Case                                   Bronze case

Crystal                               Scratch-resistant, domed sapphire and antireflective crystal

Back                                   Screwed titanium bronze colour-plated back case with inset pane of sapphire crystal

Dimensions                        Diameter = 44 mm; height = 13.15 mm

Watertightness                  3 bar

Crown                                Bronze with Montblanc emblem in raised relief

Push-piece                        Chronograph monopusher integrated in the crown

Dial

Champagne colour dial with Super-LumiNova®-coated beige Arabic numerals, 18K red gold-plated luminescent hour-hand and minute-hand, historical Montblanc emblem at 12 o’clock, tachymeter scale on the external part of the dial

Wristband       Cognac alligator-skin strap with beige stitching and satinated bronze-plated buckle

Limited Edition            100

 

Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time

 

The Montblanc 1858 Dual Time in Bronze. The movement is designated Montblanc 29.19, but is a Montblanc manufactured module on top of the Selita SW200 base ebauche.

 

Ident. 116479

Movement                          Calibre MB 29.19 with Manufacture complication

Type of movement             Mechanical movement with automatic winding, second time zone and day&night display

Number of rubies               34

Power reserve                    Approx. 42 hours

Balance                              Flat hoop

Frequency                          28,800 A/h (4 Hz)

Hairspring                          Flat

Displays                             Hours and minutes in the center

Small seconds and date window at 6 o’clock

Second time zone in the centre

Day&night indication at 12 o’clock

Special features                

In-house-developed complication with rapid adjustment of the local time in hourly steps, date linked to local time with date change either forward or backward, home time, minutes and seconds continue to run during local-time adjustment

Habillage

Case                                   Satinated stainless steel case with bronze bezel

Crystal                               Scratch-resistant, domed sapphire and antireflective crystal

Back                                   Satinated stainless steel with special decoration

Dimensions                        Diameter = 44 mm; height = 12.30 mm

Watertightness                  3 bar

Crown                                Bronze with Montblanc emblem in raised relief

Dial

Black dial with Super-LumiNova®–coated beige Arabic numerals, rhodium-plated luminescent hour-hand and minute-hand, historical Montblanc emblem at 12 o’clock

Wristband

Cognac colour aged-calf leather strap with vintage beige stitching and satinated stainless steel buckle

 

Montblanc 1858 Automatic

 

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic in Bronze is the entry level time only version. The movement is sourced from Selita.

 

Ident. 116241

Movement                          Calibre MB

Type of movement             Mechanical movement with automatic winding

Number of rubies              31

Power reserve                    Approx. 38 hours

Balance                              Flat hoop

Frequency                          28,800 A/h (4 Hz)

Hairspring                          Flat

Displays                             Hours and minutes in the center

Habillage

Case                                   Satinated stainless steel case with bronze bezel

Crystal                               Scratch-resistant, domed sapphire and antireflective crystal

Back                                   Satinated stainless steel with special decoration

Dimensions                        Diameter = 44 mm; height = 11.10 mm

Watertightness                  3 bar

Crown                                Bronze with Montblanc emblem in raised relief

Dial

Black dial with Super-LumiNova®–coated beige Arabic numerals, rhodium-plated luminescent hour-hand and minute-hand, historical Montblanc emblem at 12 o’clock

Wristband

Cognac colour aged-calf leather strap with vintage beige stitching and satinated stainless steel buckle

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