“The force awakens”, promised Davide Cerrato, head of Montblanc’s watch division, at a preview of some of the models that will go on show at January’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Is this ex-Tudor a Star Wars fan? Is the brand planning a spaceship à la MB&F? Is it about to go galactic like Romain Jerome and its Spacecraft? Questions that were soon answered once Davide Cerrato explained how this force is in fact Minerva’s revival in the Montblanc 1858 collection. Here are three styles that are guaranteed to please all the vintage fans out there.
First up is the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100. The 44mm case in satin-brushed bronze immediately sets the tone for this watch’s vintage credentials. Its bronze colouring is beautifully offset by the champagne dial that thumbs its nose at the modern age with an old-school Montblanc logo. Turning the watch over reveals a magnificent movement through the sapphire back. The Minerva MB M16.29 calibre is a direct descendant of its older sibling, the 17.29 that powered 1930s watches. In harmony with the dial and case colours, the base plate and bridges are plated in red gold, which also serves to highlight the extensive finishing carried out by the craftsmen at Manufacture Montblanc in Villeret. Assembled and finished entirely by hand, this manual-winding monopusher chronograph is proof indeed that Montblanc is more than capable of awakening the force, in watchmaking at least.
A hard act to follow, perhaps, but the 1858 Automatic Dual Time has just as much going for it thanks to a distinctly vintage design that takes its cue from Minerva’s 1930s military watches. The MB 29.19 calibre that drives the cathedral-style hands loses none of its precision even when setting a new local time, as the minute hand and sweep seconds continue to run uninterrupted while the hour hand is being adjusted. A day/night indicator at 12 o’clock tells the wearer if it’s coffee or cocoa time. Montblanc creates visual harmony across the three styles by combining the stainless steel case with a bezel and crown in the same bronze alloy that will develop an even patina across its surface.
Vintage for ever
Rounding off this trio, the 1858 Automatic picks up the signature features of the 1858 collection for what Montblanc describes as an “authentic vintage” look. The 44mm case is again in stainless steel with bronze bezel and crown, cathedral-style hands and Arabic numerals with a beige SuperLumiNova® coating. The strap comes straight from the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence. An engraving on the case back depicts Manufacture Minerva in Villeret, framed by the Jura mountains.
Clearly, Montblanc is reaching out to the vintage fans who are claiming an ever larger share of the global watch market. It’s worth noting that the bronze alloy for all three watches is the exact same one used by Tudor for its Heritage Black Bay Bronze, a choice staunchly defended by Davide Cerrato as a response to customer demand. Who are we to argue, and may the force be with Davide Cerrato!