Luxury watchmaker Montblanc has announced four new editions of its wellknown 1858 collection. The new models will be launched later this year in key international markets including India, said Camilo Daza-Tapia, the Hamburgbased Head of High Artistry Business Development at Montblanc International GmbH. Of the four variants, two will be 1858 Automatic models, and one each of the 1858 Chronograph and the 1858 Geosphere.
Montblanc’s 1858 collection is inspired by the world of mountain exploration. It reinterprets the Minerva pocket watches and chronographs from the 1920s and 1930s that were meant for military and mountaineers and boasts of high accuracy, legibility and robustness for use in extreme conditions. Hiking through forests, across fields or up to the highest peaks, the Montblanc 1858 Automatic, Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph and Montblanc 1858 Geosphere are trusted companions for fearless adventurers and explorers.
In order to guarantee the performance of the product line, all the Montblanc 1858 models undergo over 500 hours of simulated wear, with specific testing and controls under extreme conditions
Montblanc had made its debut into the world of luxury watches when its holding company Richemont purchased in October 2006 Minerva, established in 1858 as H. & C. Robert at Villeret (Jura Bernois), Switzerland. Today, the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret produces an entire line of timepieces — the Collection Villeret 1858 — dedicated to the Minerva heritage, and respecting traditional horological operations which in large part are still meticulously performed by hand.
Embodying the spirit of exploration, the new 1858 product line gets closer to wilderness with bronze cases, khaki-green dials and matching coloured “NATO” straps. The new watches evoke the spirit of the past in a modern way, expressing the discovery and back-to-nature trends. `Reconnecting through nature’ was the theme at the preview of the four new editions.
The watches were presented last month at the historic Wildflower Hall near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, to a select group of watch enthusiasts including collectors and media personnel. Located at a height of 8,250 feet in the Himalayas, the Oberoi Group’s Wildflower Hall is set amidst thick cedar forests with spectacular views of mountain ranges and panoramic valleys. It is the former residence of Lord Kitchener, erstwhile commander-in-chief of the British army and every inch of the 23-acre property oozes British heritage and charm at its best.
In attendance, and taking the nature theme forward, were Montblanc’s three newly appointed Mark Makers for India. Young and with a bent towards nature, they are people who have made a mark in their respective fields. Mumbai-based actor Arunoday Singh is well-known for his love of the great outdoors and has said his idea of being free is taking off on a long road trip with his pet Rottweiler Daku by his side. Arcing a long arm at the expanse of the verdant cedar trees around him, he says, “I am a nature and mountain person. I would gladly give up my beach home in Mumbai if you shifted me here.”
Karuna Ezara Parikh is a model, poet and television host from Delhi and a great yoga enthusiast. And photography buff Abhijeet Singh abandoned a career in advertising to set up home in Manali where he teaches mountain climbing, rock climbing and acroyoga, a combination of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage. In the next one year, the three will promote the brand through events, ad films, social media, etc. The process of selecting the Indian Mark Makers had started in October 2018. Originally, seven candidates had been short-listed.
Over three days at the Wildflower Hall, the trio did a good job of highlighting the four editions of the new line and helping link them back to nature. Arunoday Singh woke up at five one morning to run for a pre-dawn video in the beautiful forest around the luxurious property. Karuna Ezara Parikh took an outdoors yoga class. And Abhijeet Singh introduced his two fellow Mark Makers and other newbies to the fundamentals of acroyoga.
In order to guarantee the performance of the product line, all the Montblanc 1858 models undergo over 500 hours of simulated wear, with specific testing and controls under extreme conditions. The Automatic, Chronograph and Geosphere models are also water-resistant to 100 metres ensuring performance in all environments.
The two new 1858 Automatic models come in a choice of a fullbronze 40mm case (previous versions had a steel case and a bronze bezel) paired with a khaki-green dial, or a steel case with a black dial. They are a modern interpretation of historic Minerva chronographs of the 1930s that ties together vintage aesthetic and horological functionality. Introduced at SIHH 2019, the new 1858 Chronograph comes in a 42mm full bronze case with khaki-green dial, providing an ideal backdrop for the bi-compax counters.
And finally, the 1858 Geosphere, which is dedicated to the world’s Seven Summit mountaineering challenge, the holy grail of mountaineering adventures, is now also available in this new bronze/khaki colour scheme. Designed for the modern-day explorer, it is built for outstanding performance. The watch’s design — complete with luminescent numerals and two rotating hemispheres — is a standout. (see sidebar for more technical details of the four models).
The `Reconnecting Through Nature’ theme is very evident in this Geosphere. Its bi-directional bronze bezel and green ceramic ring with engraved compass indication will keep you on the right track so your mind can wander in nature freely.
In all, there are 23 products in the Montblanc 1858 family, ranging in diameter from 44 to 47 mm. While 17 of them come with automatic movements, the remaining six are provided with manually wound movements. There are four limited editions in the collection: 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition (100 pieces); Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Limited Edition (100 pieces); Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition (16 pieces) and Montblanc 1858 Pocket watch Limited Edition (100 pieces).
The finer attributes of these watches, and the new line in particular, were explained in detail at a Watch Making Masterclass hosted by Daza-Tapia in Wildflower Hall. An affable, health conscious, sports-loving Venezulian who has settled in Germany since 2006, Daza-Tapia lives out of his suitcase, having visited 11 international cities in the last six months, promoting one Montblanc watch or the other. “The green straps you see on these watches were earlier inspired from the military,” he says. “Now, they help us reconnect back to nature.”
Among those impressed by his ortaory and selling skills at the luxurious hotel was collector Alok Marwaha, owner of a scientific instruments business in Lucknow. “I have been an avid collector of Montblanc pens after inheriting some of them from my grandfather and father – and then personally building on the collection,” he says. “Montblanc has been synonymous with pens in many parts of the world. It is giving a big push to watches in India now. They have some excellent products and I have started collecting Montblanc watches as well.”
His words will be sweet music to the ears of Neeraj Walia, the dynamic Bengaluru-based CEO of Montblanc India. He runs a lean operation. Apart from the Bengaluru office, he has another small office in New Delhi. “Most of our work revolves around interacting with the 12 Montblanc boutiques all over the country,” he says.
Walia and his team must be doing a good job. For according to a senior executive of Richemont (Dubai), the Indian operations turned the corner in March 2019 and things have been on an upswing since then. Expect therefore, more such launches and campaigns like `Reconnecting through nature’.
MB 24.15 calibre; approx. 38 hours power reserve; black dial with beige luminescent numerals; fixed, stainless steel bezel; domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating; Luminescent 18 K rose gold-coated hours and minutes hands; and stainless steel pin buckle
MB 25.11 calibre; approx. 48 hours power reserve; fixed stainless steel bezel; non-screw crown; luminescent rhodium-coated hours and minutes hands; white chronograph seconds hand; white counters hands; 42 mm diameter; water resistant to 100 m; and stainless steel triplefolding clasp
MB 29.25 calibre with Manufacture complication; approx. 42 hours power reserve; world time with northern hemisphere disc with day and night indication at 12 o’clock and southern hemisphere disc with day and night indication at 6 o’clock; khaki green dial with beige luminescent numerals; bi-directional bronze bezel and green ceramic ring with engraved compass indication; luminescent 18 K rose gold-coated hours and minutes hands; 42 mm diameter; water resistant to 100 m; and bronze-coated stainless steel pin buckle
Montblanc Manufacture calibre MB M16.31; approx. 50 hours power reserve; 286 components; black lacquer dial with rose gold-coated Arabic numerals; fixed, bronze bezel; non-screw crown; 44 mm diameter; water resistant to 30 m; alligator-skin strap; and bronze-coated stainless steel pin buckle