Montblanc released its first wristwatches in the year 1997 and never looked back. Twenty-five years later, the multi-faceted maker of luxury goods has cemented its position in the Haute Horlogerie industry through a multi-level manufacturing approach that includes attractive entry-level vintage-inspired watches powered by Sellita movements, as well as ultra-high-end complicated watchmaking, with a speciality in chronographs. Montblanc is assisted in its diverse approach by the consolidation of the historic Minerva manufacture under the Montblanc corporate banner in 2006.
The New Montblanc Monopusher Chronographs
When it comes to Montblanc’s neo-vintage chronographs, the highlight has to be the new 43 mm 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow LE88. This is a limited edition launch of merely 88 watches that pay tribute to initial aviation chronographs produced by Minerva in the 1920s and the 1930s.
Minerva introduced a watch in the year 1927 with a fluted bezel and an internal countdown rotating bezel. Almost a decade later, in the year 1939, the brand launched its first wristwatch chronograph which came with an external rotating bezel and reset feature.
Now, in 2022, using original designs of vintage timepieces in Minerva’s archive as a guiding light, this new chronograph brings some of those original functions back to life. Now placed in a 42 mm wide stainless-steel case, the Red Arrow Limited Edition watch includes an 18-carat white-gold case with a fluted rotating bezel and the signature red arrow acting as a zero marker to track elapsed time.
The black dial of the watch features legible Arabic numerals with a tachymeter as well as a telemeter scale. The MB 13.21 movement inside the watch is based on the original movement 13.20 from 1924. For those do not know, this mechanism is considered to be one of the earliest chronograph calibres intended solely for wristwatches. FYI, the 13.20 calibre is insanely popular amongst watch enthusiasts for how ahead of its time it was.
Next up in the line up of new releases from Montblanc in Watches and Wonders 2022 Geneva is the 42 mm wide limited edition of 18 pieces, Montblanc’s atypical take on Minerva watches, the 18-carat “Lime Gold” alloy chronograph. The third watch is the 42 mm wide, 58-piece limited-edition, stainless-steel Minervo inspired chronograph. Both these timepeices compose the 1858 “The Unveiled Secret” Minerva Monopusher Chronograph collection.
The thing that interests us about the two ‘The Unveiled Secret’ chronographs is that Montblanc didn’t approach the skeletonized dial in the conventional way. What the brand did instead, is that it flipped the movement upside down so that the mechanical action of the chronograph doing its job is visible from the dial side of the watch without having to remove the watch from your wrist.
Something we can say for sure is that Minerva’s expertise in traditional watchmaking allows Montblanc to create certain watches like the three monopusher chronographs that were announced this week at Watches and Wonders 2022 Geneva. What we have got here are three limited edition watches, all part of the iconic 1858 collection from Minerva.
Minerva watch launches by Montblanc have to really be seen in person to be appreciated. One cannot simply judge such a fine watch just by looking renderings and press images. The level of finesse in these watches is just too high and the intricacies will simply get lost if not seen by the naked eye.