Watches have long been regarded as tools across various professions, and not just for telling time. Field medics and doctors would use timepieces with pulsometer scales to measure heartbeats per minute. Aviators would rely on slide rule bezels to assist with flight-related calculations. Tachymeter scales, used in conjunction with chronographs, also proved immensely useful for scientific observers when it concerned measuring the frequency of an event over a defined period.
This functional legacy exists as more than a throwback to the analogue age; tool watches remind one of the importance of purpose and just how far the concept of instrumentality has evolved. Montblanc – a house that is no stranger to tradition – has announced the latest addition to its 1858 collection of watches, drawing upon the rich history of the Minerva manufacture in Villeret to present a timepiece that supports its utilitarian roots with ample good looks.
Minerva Monopusher Chronograph and Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100
The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 takes inspiration from a 1930s example, updated with modern accoutrements while maintaining a distinctly vintage flavour. This new re-edition retains the 46-millimetre case diameter of the original but eschews the steel case for one made of a bronze alloy. Over time, the case will develop a patina and confer a unique look to the timepiece. On the dial side, a black lacquered visage pairs with contrasting gold elements by way of the cathedral hands and hour indices. Meanwhile, the white Minerva logo above the 6 o'clock position pays tribute to the original reference, further supported by the two-register chronograph readout and railroad minute track.
Another noteworthy feature of the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is the inclusion of a bronze-coated titanium "officer" case back. Combining aspects of both open and closed case backs, the "officer" variety uses a hinged construction – much like the front cover of an old pocket watch. Aside from providing an added layer of protection to the movement, the case back is also adorned with laser-etched engravings. The outward-facing surface of the case back features the head of the Minerva goddess, while the inward portion bears the inscription “Ré-édition du chronographe militaire Minerva des années 1930 doté d’un calibre fait main dans la pure tradition horlogère suisse” (Re-edition of a Minerva military chronograph from the 1930s equipped with a hand-made calibre following the Swiss watchmaking tradition).
Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 with an "officer" case back, displaying the Calibre MB M16.29
Powering the 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is Montblanc's in-house Calibre MB M16.29 – a column wheel-driven chronograph movement featuring lateral coupling, and a more traditional beat rate of 18,800 vibrations per hour. The Calibre MB M16.29 also features the iconic V-shape bridge – a Minerva design feature that has been protected since 1912. Raw Maillechort also makes an appearance on the movements main plate and bridges, accentuating the archival nature of the timepiece.
The 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100 is presented in a brown Sfumato alligator strap with beige stitching and will see a strictly limited production run of only 100 examples. Boasting a classy aesthetic and all the right hallmarks of a vintage-inspired instrument, Montblanc's latest timepiece is a well-conceived example of timeless charm and execution.
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