1858 Small Second Special Edition, a new pilot’s watch by Montblanc

The Montblanc 1858 collection was unveiled yesterday (20 October 2015) at SIAR, Salón Internacional Alta Relojería, Mexico City. The name of the collection refers to the year of foundation of Minerva, the brand that the Richemont Group purchased and assigned to Montblanc in 2007, and that had developed an important heritage of experience in chronograph watches over its long history. The two pieces presented, the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter and the 1858 Small Second Special Edition, both share the classic pilot’s watch pattern, with black dial, bold Arabic numerals, and hands with facets of SuperLuminova, and they are based on a chronograph made by Minerva in the 1930s. The brand’s desire to create an authentic period look is demonstrated by the use of a Montblanc logo that dates back to that period, based on the profile of the mountain and not the usual Montblanc star.

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The Montblanc 1858 Small Second Special Edition (reference 113860) is the piece closest to the classic pilot’s watch, with a stainless steel case generously sized at 44 mm diameter, 10.95 mm thickness, water-resistant to 30 metres, enhanced by the narrow bezel that enhances dial clarity, small seconds on a subdial at 6 o’clock, a large crown, and the hand-wound MB 23.03 calibre, 17 jewels and 46 hours power reserve, and a balance running at 21,600 vph, 3 Hertz. The sapphire caseback reveals the careful movement finish, with blued screws and decorated plates. The watch is mounted on a black alligator leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle, but at the show it also looked great with a Milanaise bracelet. There are in fact three versions: black dial with beige SuperLuminova hands and numerals, black alligator strap with contrasting beige stitching; black dial with white SuperLuminova hands and numerals, brown calf leather strap with beige stitching; black dial with white SuperLuminova hands, Milanaise stainless steel bracelet.

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There remains the question of the movement. In recent years, Montblanc has been using third-party movements to enable them to reduce prices (as in their exceptional perpetual calendar watch, probably the most accessible of its type in the world). The MB 23.03 calibre in this watch has characteristics very similar to the Unitas 6498 pocket-watch calibre developed in the 1950s and currently manufactured by ETA (ETA 6498). No doubt it incorporates Montblanc modifications and finish to enhance the looks when seen through the caseback.

Without doubt, it’s a lovely watch, aggressively priced, probably the first preview of the 2016 watches that will be presented at the SIHH show in Geneva, January 2016.

Reference and price

The Montblanc 1858 Small Second Special Edition, reference 113860, is a limited edition of 858 pieces, price €3,220.

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