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Montblanc - SIHH 2017 preview: Montblanc 1858 Automatic

Montblanc SIHH 2017 preview: Montblanc 1858 Automatic

Vintage styling and bronze vie for the spotlight in this new Montblanc imbued with Minerva heritage.

As has now become customary, in November several watchmakers ramped up expectations for 2017 SIHH with a number of advance announcements. Montblanc unveiled three vintage-styled watches from the 1858 collection inspired by Minerva models, which feature bronze as a case material, a new departure for the brand. Following on from the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition, the most complex of the three new arrivals, and ahead of the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time, let’s take a closer look at the simplest model.

For watch enthusiasts, the name Minerva is associated with a watch company founded in 1858 in Villeret in the Swiss Jura, and it’s this date that Montblanc’s vintage collection commemorates. Minerva’s heyday was in the golden age of chronometers, in the first part of the 20th century. Its military wristwatches and pocket watches, particularly those made in the 1930s, remain highly sought after by collectors. Historic pieces are rare, however, so Montblanc is offering an alternative solution at an affordable price: a watch with an authentic Minerva design, driven by an accurate modern movement.


From this point of view, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic is the ideal watch. It has two hands, like period military watches, a black dial protected by a domed sapphire crystal, rhodium-plated “cathedral” hands and Arabic numerals identical to those of the original models, which emit a beige glow in low lighting thanks to their SuperLuminova coating. Bronze, a material borrowed from archival collections, features on the bezel and crown of the satin-brushed steel case, adding to the retro chic of this timepiece and signalling a first for watchmaking – this combination of metals has never before been seen in the same watch.

Inside the distinctive 44 mm case, the automatic MB 24.16 calibre beats at 28,800 vph, providing a power reserve of 38 hours. Montblanc leaves us in no doubt as to the heritage of the 1858 Automatic: an image of the Manufacture is engraved on the caseback along with the Villeret and Minerva emblems, the historic Montblanc logo features on the dial, and the spear tip of Minerva herself, the goddess of war, adds a further historical reference.

The watch is fitted with an aged cognac calfskin strap with beige saddle stitching. The eminently reasonable price tag of EUR 3,490 reflects current concerns and, unlike that of original vintage pieces, is not inflated by rarity or time.


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