Montblanc Revisits Its Minerva Past With A Stunning Split Second Chronograph

Montblanc Revisits Its Minerva Past With A New Split Second Chronograph

The 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100 has a sensational combination of military complications in a robust 44mm case. Telemeter collectors: take note – this one's for you.

By Hyla Bauer

It’s shaping up to be a stellar year for Montblanc. Hot on the heels of the impressive new timepieces introduced in January at SIHH (read HERE), another exceptional new watch was presented today, the 1858 Split Second Chronograph. It's a limited edition of just 100 pieces, with lots of vintage-inspired design details and complications to match. While the dial design is pretty faithful to its original Minerva inspiration from the '30s, it has a distinctly modern feel. And its case, all 44mm of it, is made of bronze, a metal that's red hot right now in the watch world.

A state-of-the-art tool watch

The new watch takes inspiration from Minerva's historical military chronographs from the 1930s. It's a true tool watch, featuring a tachymeter, chronograph, and a telemeter, which is something we rarely see in modern-day watches. Its tachymeter is also in a spiral (or colimaçon) that Montblanc placed in the center of the dial.

A spiral tachymeter

The visual effect of the spiral, or snail, tachymeter, is refreshingly unusual. It will take a little getting used to, though, if you’re accustomed to a tachymeter on the bezel. But it will be worth it: the tachymeter in this watch can measure up to three minutes at a time. That’s triple what a bezel tachymeter can do, which is impressive. It’s made possible by the brand’s new hand-wound chronograph calibre MB M16.31. The movement has two column wheels, and its sturdy design is reminiscent of Minerva’s 1930’s calibre 17.29.

The telemeter is a hallmark of military tool watches

A telemeter was a vital function for soldiers to tell how far away a sound source was (think gunfire or bombs). It works by translating the length of time from when a sudden light source is seen to the time it is heard. It does this by using the speed at which sound travels. Very handy, indeed. It’s also fun during our (relatively) peaceful times. In a thunderstorm, the watch can calculate the distance between the wearer and lightning. To do this, the telemeter is activated when the flash is first seen and stopped when thunder is heard. You’ll know when it’s time to run for cover.

A split-second chronograph is the icing on the cake

You’ll know how fast you’re running from that storm or speeding around the racetrack via the split second chronograph for which the watch is named. The minute counter sits in a subdial at 3 o'clock. The split-seconds function allowing for the measurement of an intermediate time interval, for example, one lap around the racetrack, is at 9 o'clock. There's a lot going on visually on the watch's black lacquered dial, between the tachymeter in the center, the telemeter on the flange, and the chronograph itself, but it all makes sense.

Moving right along

The watch’s sturdy movement is ready to handle all of the goings-on, with a full 50 hours of power reserve. That’s more than enough to get you through the race. This limited edition is available now and priced at $31.000 USD. With just 100 pieces being made for the world, collectors will be racing too to get their hands on one. 

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