At SIHH 2017, Montblanc debuted a smart new member of the vintage pilot watch-inspired Montblanc 1858 collection with a dual time complication. In a two-tone steel and bronze case, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time is an uncommon offering given its particular design, choice of materials, and functionality.
The Montblanc 1858 collection is comprised of quite high-end and more accessible models. Last year after SIHH 2016, I looked at the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition watch (hands-on here) which contains one of the brand’s hand-assembled and hand-decorated movements from their Montblanc Villeret (Minerva) manufacture. A new version of it in an all-bronze case is available for 2017 – and with the fancier movements, each represents the higher end of the Montblanc 1858 watch family.
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time is more mainstream in its appeal, using a base Swiss automatic movement with an in-house-made module for the dual time functionality. Inside is what Montblanc refers to as their caliber MB 29.19 automatic movement. It operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. In addition to the time and date (located in the subsidiary seconds dial above 6 o’clock and, thankfully, using a black-colored disc to match the dial), the dial offers a second time zone via an additional hand, in 12-hour format.
Sometimes watches like this are referred to as “GMT” watches, but in truth they are not, since GMT watches more accurately represent the second time zone in 24-hour (not 12-hour) format. Many people prefer that the second time zone be in 12-hour format for easier reading. So for them, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time will be extra appealing. It is also worth saying that the second time zone hand can be adjusted to “hide” underneath the main hour hand. Why would you want to do this? Well doing so cleans up the dial a little bit and makes it appear to be a simple time-only watch, but with a handy AM/PM indicator.
Under 12 o’clock on the dial is a small circular window which is connected to the second time zone hand and serves as an AM/PM indicator. This crucial feature is necessary since many people use the second time zone hand to reference far-off places, and knowing whether it is day or night there is important. Like I said, if you sync up both hour hands to the same time, then the day/night indicator will thus simply be used for the local time.
What really wins here is overall legibility and ease of use. Such a design mixes good style with simple utility in a way that I think people will use. Too often brands seem to stuff watches with complexity that is too difficult to use or understand. In my opinion, dual time complications such as this are perfect because there is a high likelihood people will actually use them.
As I mentioned, it also helps that the Montblanc 1858 overall has an ultra-legible dial. Once again, its design is themed on vintage pilot-style watches which means clear Arabic numeral hour markers and easy-to-read hands (with the hour and minute hands clearly differentiated). The hands and hour markers are painted in “aged style” (the color) luminant. For those who want a modern wearing experience but that classic look, such options like the Montblanc 1858 are a good choice. What I also like on the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time watches is that the logo is a bit more diminutive than the comparable 1858 Automatic (a time-only model). Even though this logo is a direct emulation of a historic Montblanc design, I’m not a huge fan of it compared to Montblanc’s more common modern corporate logo.
On the wrist, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time is sized at 44mm wide and 12.3mm thick (water resistant to just 30 meters). The main case is brushed steel, while the bezel and crown are in bronze – a material that will develop a patina over time. Bronze has been a trendy material over the last few years, and its integration is clever in a watch like this given that it matches the aged look of the luminant on the hands and hour markers. Montblanc pairs the watch with a comfortable “period-appropriate,” “aged calfskin” strap in an attractive cognac color.
Looking at the side profile, you can appreciate the “box-style” domed sapphire crystal which adds welcome depth but with a relatively flat surface which reduces glare. This also gives the watch an added vintage vibe but also helps promote excellent legibility.
In my opinion, this reference 116479 Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time was a standout watch from the brand this year at SIHH 2017 in style, functionality, and as a decent value proposition. Price is $5,000. montblanc.com