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In-Depth: The Montblanc 1858 Collection And Its Minerva Heritage

Montblanc’s New 1858 Collection is inspired by historical Minerva timepieces in honor of its 160th anniversary. With surprisingly modern style!

By Hyla Bauer

In 1858, watchmaker Charles-Yvan Robert founded Minerva in the Saint-Imier valley, on the outskirts of Villeret. Over time, the manufacture established a sterling reputation for making some of the world’s most reliable timepieces and obtained several patents for precision timers. Professional watches, chronographs and stopwatches were specialties for Minerva in its early years and they still are today. As early as the 1920’s, Minerva developed a manual monopusher chronograph movement small enough to fit in a wristwatch, and by the 1930’s produced an ultra-slim (for the time) version of the movement that measured just 5.6mm high. 


The New Montblanc 1858 Collection

The Montblanc 1858 collection celebrates Minerva’s 160 years of watchmaking excellence, inspired by the designs of the early timepieces, including its monopusher chronographs. Minerva’s reputation for robust precise watches grew from a growing demand for durable, accurate timepieces for military purposes, as well as for mountain climbing and exploration. The new collection features in-house complications as well as time-only watches. The watches “are designed for the modern-day explorer who likes to set his own challenges,” the brand said in a statement. “He is someone who likes to express his own personal style, lives an authentic way of life, loves adventure, and finds harmony with nature that allows him to reach new heights.”  


Montblanc tests all of the 1858 Collection timepieces to ensure that the watches will perform in extreme conditions. Each watch endures at least 500 hours of of simulated wear. The specific tests and controls under extreme conditions confirm the watch’s performance, allowing the owner to be worry-free whether he’s scaling the heights of Kilamanjaro or motorcycling through the Mojave desert.  


The watch cases echo the original watches’ designs with very few modifications. Metals include bronze, titanium, as well as classic stainless steel. Each watch in the collection (with the exception of one) boasts an exquisitely carved caseback, depicting the Mont Blanc mountain, a compass and two crossed pick axes.  


Let’s take a closer look at the new models. 

The Montblanc 1858 Automatic

This watch is the quintessential reproduction of a classic. Measuring 40mm, the time-only piece is full of vintage-inspired design. The 1858’s Automatic’s stainless steel case combines both polished and satin finishes giving it depth and interest. The bronze bezel adds a rugged feel and perfectly complements the oversized fluted “Onion” crown. The Automatic’s bezel serves as a perfect frame for both the black and the champagne colored dials. A railroad minute track, Arabic numerals and cathedral hands complete this simple yet sublime timepiece. A standout feature throughout the collection are the oversized fluted crowns, that ensure an easy set even while wearing gloves. Mechanically, the watch is powered by the MN 24.14 automatic movement with a power reserve of 38 hours. NATO and leather straps are available, with the leather’s overstitching adding to the vintage feel.


1858 Automatic Chronograph

For explorers, precise timing on the mountain, on the ground or at sea are essential. At 42mm wide, the 1858 Automatic Chronographs’  larger size makes it easier to read on the go, and provides ample space for the subdials. The counter subdials are positioned at 9 and 3 o’clock, like the early Minerva chronographs of the time. Its domed crystal sapphire crystal is also a clear nod to the early timepieces. Rugged pushers flanking the fluted crown add to the watch’s vintage look. The 1858 Automatic Chronograph comes in either a bronze or stainless steel case, with the bronze model’s caseback coated in allergy-free titanium.  It’s powered by the MB 25.11 movement with a power reserve of 48 hours.


1858 Geosphere

The Geosphere’s simultaneous display of the north and south rotating hemispheres via two domed globes is visually powerful, with the bronze continents highlighted by the contrasting black. 24-hour day/night indicators serve the unique needs of climbers, from their perspective. The watch “is destined for those who travel the world in their quest for exploration,” says the brand. The Geosphere’s design honors the world’s Seven Summit Challenge, in which top climbers set out to climb the highest mountains in every continent. 


Seven mountains are marked by red dots on the globes and named on the watch’s caseback. The watch is a limited edition of just 1858 individually numbered pieces, and features a new in-house worldtime complication powered by calibre MB 29.25 with a 48 hour power reserve. 


The new movement complication highlights Minerva’s expertise, spirit of innovation, and constant quest to push the limits of watchmaking.


1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition of 100

Only 100 lucky collectors will have the pleasure of wearing this monopusher masterpiece with a custom green dial and matching green alligator strap. The bi-compax dial features a small seconds counter at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph subdial. A tachymeter scale at the edge of the dial completes the authentic feel and could come in handy. The watch’s sapphire crystal caseback allows a full view of the MB 13.21 movement incorporating the brand’s  signature V-shaped chronograph bridge. 


1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100

In keeping with the watches of the time, Montblanc has created a 60mm pocket watch. Made of durable and lightweight titanium, the watch includes a full sized compass that can be opened from the back. The timepiece can also be transformed into a wristwatch via a custom leather strap. Powered by the MB16.24 movement, the watch has a power reserve of a full 50 hours.  


Discover The Collection At WatchTime New York!

Later this month, collectors will have a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the 1958 collection at WatchTime New YorkOccuring October 26-27 at Gotham Hall in New York City. Montblanc will have the entire 1858 collection on display. We highly recommend you book your tickets today. You can use promo code ‘WATCHONISTA’ for $10 off your Friday or Saturday ticket. 


(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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