While its current guise as a watchmaker is relatively recent, Montblanc can trace its roots as a watchmaker back to 1858 through the historic Minerva nameplate. In today’s heritage-obsessed luxury watch market, the brand is eager to showcase that lengthy history, and this strategy shines through most clearly in its 1858 collection. For its latest entry into this lineup, the brand offers a faithful recreation of an original 1930s design that may surprise enthusiasts with just how faithful it truly is. Through its imposing wrist presence, warm bronze material, and a handsomely decorated movement fully recreated from the original model, the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 sets itself apart from most early 20th century inspired vintage reissues for a uniquely interesting offering.
Case sizing for watches from the 1930s tends to skew small by modern perspectives, with the early “big tool watch” designs of the day occasionally topping out around 40mm in diameter. Even to a modern observer, however, the case of the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is a behemoth. The original 1930s inspiration was designed to adapt a pocket watch movement for wrist use for the military, and the bronze case of this new model accurately recreates the 46mm diameter of that design. While large, the case form itself largely keeps to classical sports and military design cues, with simple flat brushed case sides, a steeply sloped narrow bezel, and athletic tapering lugs. That said, the sheer diameter of this 46mm case leaves the lug to lug width looking narrow by comparison in initial images, leading to a slightly disproportionate overall feel from some angles. The oversized 3 o’clock onion crown adds a pilot watch feel to the case design, and is topped with the single chronograph monopusher. This through-the-crown single pusher layout is often a hallmark of pocket watch-derived movements, and Montblanc continues the pocket watch inspiration around back. Like the ‘30s original, the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 uses a pocket watch style hinged hunter caseback. This old-school solution not only stays true to the original inspiration, it allows Montblanc to both employ a display back and engrave the caseback, filling the inside of the hinged back with perlage and a lengthy inscription in French. Fully translated, the inscription reads “Re-edition of a Minerva military chronograph from the 1930s equipped with a hand-made caliber following the Swiss watchmaking tradition.”
Like the case, the dial of the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 cleaves close to the 1930s original with a touch of modern creative license. The overall bi-compax layout is clean, functional, and handsome, with simple applied Arabic numerals in rose gold tone paired with intricate cathedral hands. The double signatures of Montblanc and Minerva at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock visually balance one another nicely, maintaining the symmetry of the two register layout. The use of faux-patina tan lume is often a point of contention among enthusiasts, but the warmth of this color resonates smartly with the bronze case.
The most faithful recreation of all in the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is its in-house MB M16.29 handwound chronograph movement. The MB M16.29 is a near identical revival of the Calibre 19-09CH pocket watch movement used in the 1930s original, down to its use of warm uncoated German silver for the intricate web of plates and bridges. The finishing on display here is a classical sight to behold in initial images, with Côtes de Genève, anglage, and perlage on display on the plates and bridges. The actuating arms for the horizontal clutch column wheel chronograph also deserve special mention here, with slim elegant French curve forms and a prominent tip in the shape of the Minerva arrow emblem. Of course, with a pocket watch movement design with roots dating back to 1909, performance is unlikely to be groundbreaking, and the MB M16.29 offers an unspectacular 50 hour power reserve at an 18,000 bph beat rate. Montblanc pairs the watch with a honey brown alligator leather strap, completing the warm atmosphere provided by the bronze case and khaki lume.
With an unusual but undeniably charismatic original model to iterate on, the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 strikes a fascinating chord between exacting recreation and creative reinterpretation. As the name suggests, only 100 examples of the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 will be made. The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $30,500. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.