In the 1920s and 1930s, watch manufacture Minerva produced some of the most renowned professional chronographs for military and exploration use. The brand was taken over by Montblanc’s parent company Richemont in 2006, and these timepieces have provided ample inspiration for Montblanc’s 1858 line, continuing the legacy of innovative, high-performance watches designed for the toughest of environments.
For 2020, Montblanc has introduced cool-blue additions to the line that takes its cues from glacial and snowy, mountainous surrounds, including a striking new take on the 1858 Split Second Chronograph. Based on a historical Minerva military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s, the watch comes packed with a number of highly functional features in a nod to its origins as a tool watch.
Among these is a tachymeter scale, which allows the wearer to track the speed of a moving object, such as a car, over a known distance. Here it is positioned at the centre of the dial in a colimaçon, or snail shape, enabling the length of time to be measured up to three minutes, compared to the one minute of a traditional chronograph scale placed around the dial. This is combined with a rattrapante – or split second – complication, which can measure intermediate times without interrupting the ongoing measurement of a longer elapsed time.
Among its more unusual features is the white telemeter scale that runs around the edge of the dial, which was commonly found on historic Minerva chronograph models. Used to track the distance of an event that is both visible and audible, for example a storm, the chronograph hand starts when the phenomenon is seen (such as lightening), and stopped when it is heard (thunder). The position on the scale shows the distance in kilometres separating the two, calculated from the speed at which sound travels through the air.
Limited to 100 pieces, the watch is presented with sleek and robust grade 5 titanium case, including a new bi-metal bracelet formed of central links in polished stainless steel and satin-finished rectangular links in titanium on the outside. The alluring depth of blue on the dial is achieved through the painstaking and lengthy process of grand feu enamelling, which sees multiple layers enamel paste delicately applied to the surface of metal and fired at temperatures of up to 800°C to achieve its unique, lustrous look.