Mountain exploration is not for the faint-hearted. Gruelling, unpredictable and perilous, it pushes the limits of mind, body and spirit. Navigating such extreme environments necessitates specialised tools. As far as watches go, precision, legibility and robustness are a must. The new Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100 offers these very qualities, while also presenting a distinctive aesthetic that highlights the maison’s eye for design and premium craftsmanship.

Blast from the past

Inspired by historic Minerva military chronographs of the 1920s and 1930s, the Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100 effuses design, style and technical innovation. Housed in a generous 44-millimetre case, the timepiece’s gradated blue grand feu enamel dial is a testament to watchmaking artistry. 

Among the various decorative techniques, grand feu enamelling is one of the more difficult ones to execute. The challenge lies in the temperatures involved – up to 800°C – which demand precise control over the entire firing process. Here, the delicate gradation of blue on the dial is achievable through multiple precise applications and firings of the “raw” enamel to sequentially build up its surface. Combined with the solid gold dial base, the result is an iridescent finish with incredible depth. Meanwhile, orange and white markings add to the visual interest while providing excellent contrast.

Traditional hand-crafted finishings accompany the watch movement, including Côtes de Genève, internal angles, circular graining and bevelling. A sapphire case back allows the wearer to admire the artistry of the mechanism within.

A time-honoured movement

Powering the Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100 is the in-house Calibre MB M16.31. This movement features two column wheels, a horizontal coupling system and a 50-hour power reserve. The second column wheel is necessary for the rattrapante function, which allows the wearer to “pause” the additional rattrapante hand to record intermediate times while the overall event’s elapsed time is still being recorded.

Also featured is a colimaçon tachymeter. It has a snail-shaped layout that lets the wearer read off rates instantaneously for events that are up to three minutes long – instead of the typical one minute.

The design and production of the MB M16.31 hails from the Montblanc manufacture in Villeret. The movement takes its inspiration from the original Minerva Calibre 17.29 developed in the 1930s. A key feature of the Minerva design is the iconic V-shaped bridge – also present in this limited-edition chronograph. The mainplate and bridges are of German silver, and will thus acquire a patina over time.

In a nod to its predecessor’s military roots and its own evolution into a classic yet sporty timepiece, the watch’s case utilises satin-finished titanium. Completing the overall design is a matching blue Sfumato alligator strap hand-crafted by the brand’s Pelletteria in Florence, Italy. Montblanc’s new bi-material technical bracelet comprising satin-finished titanium and polished stainless steel is also available as an alternative.

Only 100 pieces of this timepiece will be available for purchase. 

written by.

Evigan Xiao

Evigan is an avid fan of bench-made boots, raw selvedge denim, single malt Scotch and fine watches. When he's not busy chuckling over image dumps on Imgur, he can be found lifting heavy objects in the gym or fussing over his two dogs, Velvet and Kenji. He dreams of one day owning a cottage in the English countryside and raising a small army of Canadian geese to terrorise the local populace.

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