Montblanc Takes the 1858 Line to New Levels at Watches & Wonders 2022

Montblanc has been making strides with watch enthusiasts over the last few years with increasingly esoteric and original timepieces in their 1858 line, from decently priced monopushers to unique global time displays. Gone are the days when their watches felt like an extension to their pens, as they’ve developed a language that pulls on exploration, their own history a brand, as well as that of the vaulted movement manufacturer Minerva, whose movements solely reside now in higher-end Montblanc’s.

Additionally, something that distinguishes Montblanc’s watches from the competition is their 500-hour testing. Using fully-assembled watches, they put each through a battery of tests in a lab, and only after passing are they released for sale, each including a certificate. Positioned across various price points, for 2022 they have compelling offerings from entry-level-for-Richemont and into firm luxury territory, all supported by this 500-hour test. In ascending order:


The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date

I’m pretty sure that at the end of last year (or the year before) on the Worn & Wound podcast I either predicted or said I was hoping for brands to use more texture on their dials. Well, it seems like I got my way if the Iced Sea Automatic Date is any indicator. Inspired by the Mer de Glace, France’s largest Glacier, Montblanc devised some chillingly (sorry) cool (again) dials for their new line of diving watches.

Featuring 41mm x 12.9mm cases with 300m of water resistance, the Iced Sea Automatics have a more modern look and feel than previous 1858 models, which typically have an early 20th-century vibe. Ceramic bezels sport classic dive markings, while applied dial markers including numerals at 6, 9, and 12, as well as sword hands, speak to the line’s exploration roots.

The icey dial surfaces, however, steal the show. Utilizing a “forgotten” technique called “gratté boisé” they created dials that are thin, yet capture the depth and almost aurora borealis quality of ice. Furthering the visual effect, they’ve crafted them in three colors, blue, green, and black, all with their own charm.

Powering the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Dates is the MB 24.17, which is a rebadged Sellita SW200. In addition to the 500-hours test, the divers are ISO 6425 certified, for additional credibility. All colors are available on either a fitted-lug rubber strap for $2,975 or a 20-16mm tapered steel bracelet for $3,190.

The Montblanc 1858 GMT

What good is a new dive watch format if you don’t also use it for a sporty GMT? Though a predictable extension, Montblanc’s execution of the GMT function is surprisingly novel in this new model. Coming in a bit larger at 42mm, but thinner at 11mm, the GMT takes the same design language, save the ice dials, and puts it to use in a classic, and handsome take on the dual-time/traveler’s watch.

The dial, which comes in clean black or blue with a sunburst effect, has the same 6, 9, 12, with a date-at-three setup as the diver for a clean, sporty look. Matching aluminum bezels with 24-hour indexes clearly indicate the traveling format. What sets the Montblanc 1858 GMT apart from like watches is the GMT complication itself.

Rather than a potentially distracting fourth hand, they’ve gone the disk route. Along the outer edge of the dial are a series of apertures through which a red block can be seen. The hour is then read off of the bezel. An uncommon execution to begin with, but Montblanc went the extra mile by also including smaller, half-hour windows. While the minute hand is still used to get the exact number, this graphic display is great for ballparking the time.

One last interesting detail is the case back, which is made from titanium, though the rest is steel. Etched, and rendered in full color, is a map of the globe with a world-time grid for reference. If you were to purchase the watch, you can request your hometown be included for an additional cost, and specially colored in for emphasis.

Powering the Montblanc 1858 GMT is the Calibre MB 24.33. The watch is available on a fitted rubber strap for $3,515, or a 20-16mm steel bracelet for $3,730. The personlalized caseback version is $4,100 and comes on the bracelet.

The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen LE290

Take a breath, this next one is a doozy – and it concerns the very air we breathe. The Montblanc Geosphere has become somewhat of an icon of the brand in its short tenure. By utilizing an in-house module, it displays 24-hour time via globes at 12 and 6, calibrated for the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively. Thus, the time around the world can be determined, as well as regions of day and night. With the attached NEWS bezel, one can also use the watch as a compass by referring to the position of the sun (that’s a gross oversimplification, but for brevity’s sake…). Clearly, a watch inspired by and meant for exploration, it’s no surprise they chose it as the format for some cool technical achievements.

The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen features a new chronograph version of this movement, with hour and minute totalizers at three and nine, which has been cased without any oxygen. This eliminates fogging at high altitudes but also increases the lifespan of the movement as it prevents oxidization. This is an uncommon technique, with only Sinn’s AR (argon gas-filled) watches coming to mind as a precedent. But, it’s not just tech for the sake of being cool, Montblanc is sending the watch up Everest on the wrist of notable explorer and mountaineer Nimsdai Purja. In addition, for the excursion, they’ve swapped out some of the oils and lubricants for ones that will function down to -50C.

The Geosphere dial is always an entertaining site with its distinctive, oversized map-subdials, but on this version, Montblanc has gone the extra mile. Rendered in blue and black, they utilized the same “glacier” technique found in the Iced Sea divers above. The maps at 6 and 12 glisten in a gorgeous blue, while the chronograph subdials fill out the spaces at 3 and 9 in simple white print that appears to float on the ice below.

Measuring 44mm x X x 17.10mm thick, the 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen is made out of titanium to mitigate weight, and features a ceramic bezel insert. The manufacturer MB 29.27 caliber within has 33 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 bph, and a power reserve of 46 hours. Limited to 290 units, the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen will cost $8,600.

The Montblanc 1858 The Red Arrow Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition

If the last few watches represented the contemporary exploration spirit of Montblanc’s 1858 line, this next watch is purely about its history. This Minerva-powered monopusher is straight out of the ‘20s/’30s with its fluted bezel and spiral tachymeter dial. The bezel is not just decorative though, it can be turned to position the red arrow for timing purposes.

Citing Minerva’s history going back to 1927 with making fluted and elapsed time bezels, the new watch is practically a replica of vintage pieces. The deep black dial has a classic layout with a telemeter scale along its outer edge, subdials at 3 and 9, and large arabic numerals printed in lume. 42 millimeters in diameter, the case is made of steel, but the bezel is white gold for some modern decadence.

Inside is the Minerva MB M13.21 manual wound, column-wheel chronograph. Based on historic designs it is a notably beautiful caliber with flourishes like the devil’s tail (Minerva’s arrow), V-bridge inspired by a mountain ridge seen from the original Minerva workshop, as well as an in-house hairspring.

The Montblanc 1858 The Red Arrow Minerva Monopusher Chronograph is limited to 88 pieces and will retail for $30,500.


The Montblanc 1858 The Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronographs

Our last stop in Villeret, the Montblanc 1858 The Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronographs require a double-take to appreciate. At a glance, one might be overwhelmed by what appears to be a highly complicated, skeletonized chronograph. That is accurate, however, as the term “secret” in the name hints, there’s more to it.

Those magical, delightful, salivation-inducing Minerva chronographs you can typically only view with the watch off have been flipped upside down. Minerva’s arrow, the V-bridge, the massive balance, the spectacular finishing, are all visible from the top down.

A beautiful sight, no doubt, but it also gives insight into the working functions of the watch in a way skeletonized dials typically don’t quite achieve. A press of the through-crown pusher will actuate the chronograph via the column-wheel, then stop and reset it. It’s a chronograph nerd’s dream. There are two versions available, one in steel and the other in gold, both 43mm. The steel version is limited to 58 pieces, and has a price tag of $33,500, while the gold is limited to 18 pieces and runs $48,000.


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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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