The Montblanc 1858 collection first debuted all the way back in 2015, and in 2019 at the SIHH show, German manufacturer revealed the spectacular 1858 Split Second Chronograph. Today, Montblanc has announced a new version of this classic, with a very striking blue grand feu enamel dial and a titanium case.
The dial is made of solid gold with a gradient blue grand feu enamel finish. This technique, one of the oldest in watchmaking, requires specific skills and is only mastered by a handful of dial makers.
The case is executed in Grade 5 alloy allowing for polished accents over the brushed surfaces.
Grand feu enamel starts with dusting enamel powder onto the gold disc, briefly fired at 800 degrees Celsius, before removing it and allowing it to cool, setting the enamel. The heating of the surface is done in layers and each layer is heated at very high temperatures. The 1858 Split Second adds to the complexity, with a gradient colour achieved by carefully playing with the height of the different layers of enamel. The result is a deep blue glossy dial with uneven texture, reflecting the work of the artisan.
In addition to the large, pilot-inspired Arabic numerals and cathedral hands, the dial comprises multiple tracks and indications. First are the two chronograph sub-counters, a small seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock.
In the centre, there’s a base-1000 tachymeter colimaçon (snail-shaped) track used to measure average speeds. Its unusual snail pattern allows measurements of up to three minutes instead of one minute when the scale is placed around the dial.
On the periphery of the dial are three other scales – minutes, seconds and telemeter. The latter was often seen in vintage Minerva chronographs and can measure the distance of a phenomenon which is both visible and audible, like lightning and thunder in a storm. The chronograph hand starts the instant the phenomenon is seen (lightning) and is stopped when the sound is heard (thunder). The position on the scale shows the distance in kilometres.
At the heart of the watch is the hand-wound and hand-finished MB M16.31 – essentially a pocket watch caliber adapted for a wristwatch and with the distinction of being made entirely in-house. Every single part is assembled by hand and meticulously hand finished using traditional techniques including Cotes de Genève patterns, circular graining and beveling, which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back. The large balance wheel beats at a low frequency of 2.5 Hz and it offers a power reserve of 50 hours.
As its name suggest 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100, is limited to only 100 examples in total and will be available for sale from April of this year with a price tag of about $36,000.