Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Limited Edition - SIHH 2017 LIVE
After crafting timepieces with cases made of carbon, ceramic, titanium, and tantalum, at this year's SIHH in Geneva, Montblanc presented its Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Limited Edition single-button chrono made of bronze. This very ancient alloy was used in different manners in the past given that It is quite an easy alloy to fuse and it was originally used to cast different items (weapons, armours, and tools), during the different historic eras it was also used to craft more artistic items (medals, statues, coins, and sacred objects), and nowadays it is utilized for more technical purposes given its extraordinary resistance to corrosion and its elasticity (propellers for ships, bearings, and gears).
Moreover, bronze is getting more and more popular by the day with timepiece manufacturers, mainly when it comes to scuba-diving watches because of its extraordinary anti-corrosion properties against sea water. One of the characteristics of this material is the coating that appears with the passing of time and that protects the timepiece against corrosion and also gives it a peculiar vintage look. This might be the reason why Montblanc opted for this material for a timepiece model with a somehow vintage taste.
The size of the case is quite generous but not overwhelming. The diameter measures 44mm including the integrated crown-button, while the thickness measures 13.15mm. The case is made of a warm-coloured bronze alloy with extraordinary mechanic features. The timepiece comes with a cognac-colour skin alligator strap with an antique-effected stitching hand-made by the artisans, who work in Montblanc's Florence-based leather workshop and is coupled with a steel buckle with a matted bronze finish.
The ample dial with its champagne-colour finish reminds us of the style of the Minerva chronographs from the 30s with their tachymeter scale 1000 base and two counters for the chrono minutes at 3 o'clock and for the continuous minutes at 6 o'clock. Respectively. There are also Arabic number and cathedral hands with a massive use of beige SuperLuminova and a Montblanc logo from the 30s at 12 o'clock, while at 6 o'clock is located the acronym of the calibre with an Italian letter “M” that identifies the Minerva calibre; a clear and romantic historic reference.
To avoid any possible allergic reactions, the case-back is made of anodized titanium that is bronze in colour and screwed in using six screws. The case-back is equipped with a sapphire glass, through which one can behold the beautiful red gold-plated Minerva calibre. The MB16.29 calibre derives from the historic Minerva 17.29 calibre; this big and refined movement that is 38.4mm in size and 6.3mm thick, is equipped with 22 rubies and guarantees up to 50 hours of power reserve.
The calibre has been designed to last for a long time, the bridges and the plate are built in Nickel silver (in the past, when it was still Italian, both the bridges and the plate where made of Maillechort -a copper/zinc/nickel alloy-), it is equipped with a Glucydur-made balance wheel and big-sized screws (14.5d) that give the calibre a high inertia factor and a reduced amplitude reduction even when the chrono is in use. A Breguet balance-spring with an ample Phillips curve running at a low frequency (18,000A/h) completes the system and slows down the ageing process of the different parts -mainly of the escapement-. Readability up to a fifth of a second and longevity too are two additional features of this movement. The adjustment index features a micro-metric screw and is pressurized through a thrust spring.
The bridges feature “anglage” decoration; this technique involves the removal of material and small pieces along the entire edge and the subsequent creation of a graceful aesthetic contrast through manual polishing. Fine examples of this are the matted carbon-steel lever with a polished edge and the chrono bridge in the shape of a “V”, embellished with the “anglage”, “Cotes de Geneve” decorations and two settings for the rubies. This highlights the painstaking and precise handcraft work that lies behind the crafting and re-finishing of each calibre.
The retail price of this watch is 27,500 euro and only 100 samples of this fascinating chrono will be released; this is a timepiece that keeps alive the style and design of the Minerva watches from the past and it also offers an additional refining style that focuses on a case that, with its “ageing” and with the historic calibre hosted within, will gift every owner of this watch with an additional vintage touch. The retails price is definitely not on the low side but this is an almost unique timepiece due to the presence of the historic Minerva calibre, a limited release of 100 pieces only and, moreover, it should be really compared to products from other brands that, when it comes to manual finishing and quality, definitely belong to the world of haute-horlogerie.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Denis Fabbro @Horbiter