Synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship and design, Montblanc continues to push the boundaries of innovation with the releases of the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date, 1858 GMT Automatic Date, 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen Limited Edition 290, and more at the 2022 Watches & Wonders in Geneva.
Inside the Glacier with the New Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date
Discover Montblanc’s sports diving watch with a “frozen” dial and an interchangeable and adjustable tapered bracelet.
When it came to imagining a new sports diving watch, Montblanc didn’t go to the world’s tropical waters for inspiration, but rather climbed up to the glacial lakes of the Mont-Blanc Massif. Ascending via the Chamonix Valley to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the Maison’s designers were captivated by the texture of the glacial ice with its interlocking network of crystals that have been frozen in time for millennia.
Research and Development on the Mer de Glace
Full with ideas, they returned to the Manufacture to try and figure out a way of translating what they had seen onto the face of a watch. This was no easy feat as not only had it never been done before, but a watch dial measures a mere 0.5 mm in height, making it very difficult to create the illusion of looking into the depth of a glacier.
The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Frozen Dial
After several trials, the Maison found a technical solution to create an impression of genuine depth and luminosity. The dial makers employed an almost-forgotten ancestral technique called gratté boisé as the base. The result captures Montblanc’s spirit of exploration, both in terms of the adventures the watches are made for, but also the way in which they are designed and created.
An Interchangeable and Adjustable Bracelet
This timepiece includes the addition of an interchangeable v-shaped stainless-steel bracelet which can be quickly and easily switched for a rubber strap without the need to return to the boutique or the use of any tools. Not only is the bracelet interchangeable, but it is also adjustable on the wrist, so each owner can find their perfect fit, especially when wearing it over a wet suit.
The stainless-steel bracelet also comes with an attractive taper of 20 – 16mm and is secured by a double deployant buckle. To find tapered bracelets at this price point is quite rare due to the fact that they are more complicated and expensive to manufacture, but it makes all the difference as they bring an element of character and elegance to the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date. Stainless steel and rubber were also the materials of choice thanks to their durability in a salty water environment.
ISO 6425 Norm for Diving
The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date is more than a sports watch, it is a certified diving timing instrument, conforming to the ISO 6425 norm. In addition to this important safety certification, each timepiece has undergone the Montblanc Laboratory 500 Hour Test to ensure that it is shock, magnetic, temperature, and water-resistant (30 bar) and that its fasteners are reinforced for maximum security.
The timepiece also needs to be visible in all conditions. For this, Montblanc has incorporated white Super-Luminova® on the hands, indexes, and dot at 12 o’clock, which all glow in a luminescent shade in low light, keeping with the glacial theme.
Three Shades for Three Types of Ice
The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date comes with three different dial colours – blue, green, and black – that represent different colours of glacial ice. Blue ice can be found in the Mont-Blanc’s Sea of Ice and is created by the inclusion of air bubbles in the ice, while green ice is found in Antarctica and is the result of the presence of microscopic snow algae blooms. Black ice occurs when the ice has no inclusions or air bubbles, therefore absorbing enough light to appear black. It can also be turned black by deposits of volcanic ash in its structure; examples of which can be seen in the polar regions.
All the Details
Each timepiece comes in a 41mm stainless steel case with a bicolor ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel and a case back featuring a 3D relief engraving of an iceberg and a scuba diver exploring the glacial waters below. This image is achieved using an engraving technique that is rarely seen on such a small surface. The engraving begins with the metal being structured by laser to create a 3D relief image that provides depth and realism.
The collection is powered by an automatic movement and indicates the hours, minutes, seconds, and a date at three o’clock. The timepiece also comes with a recycled and recyclable watch pouch so that the wearer is even better equipped and ready for the next adventure!
Tracking Time Zones in Style: Montblanc 1858 GMT Automatic Date
Montblanc offers an intuitive way of keeping track of time in different time zones without hands.
One of the most practical complications, the Montblanc 1858 GMT watch function shows the time in two different places at the same time. So, wherever you are on the planet and whatever you are doing, your watch can indicate local time and home time at a glance. And even when you aren’t off exploring, the Montblanc 1858 GMT watch can come in pretty handy for organizing video calls with international colleagues!
Where most GMT timepieces indicate the second time zone with an additional hand, the new Montblanc 1858 GMT model presents its GMT indication without hands that is very intuitive and highly legible.
This ingenious system indicates the second time zone with a red square that moves around the outside of the dial. This red square is positioned next to a fixed black or blue anodized aluminium bezel that shows the 24-hour clock so the user immediately knows if it is day or night in the second time zone too. The beauty of this system is that it also indicates the half-hours with a red rectangle for the half-hours and a full red square for the hours.
There is also a date at three o’clock and a central seconds hand indication, but the Montblanc 1858 GMT watch isn’t just about cool functions, it is also about good looks as this attractive everyday sports watch is made to impress. It comes in a 42 mm stainless steel case with a choice of a black or blue sunray dial, both of which are adorned with blue luminescent hands and indexes.
The Montblanc 1858 GMT watch now also comes with a tapered, interchangeable, stainless-steel bracelet with a fine adjustment system for precision fitting, which can be switched out for a black or blue rubber strap in seconds.
Another nice surprise is the titanium engraved case back showing the planet’s continents and oceans, along with the names of cities in each of the 24 time zones, offering a worldtime indication.
The engraving of the planet is achieved using an engraving technique that is rare on such a small scale. This complex process begins with the titanium being structured by laser to create the relief of the image. The texture and colour of the engraving are also achieved by laser, creating an authentic 3D rendering that provides depth and realism.
The case back can be customized to include the owner’s hometown in red and their local time zone. Another nice touch is that Central European Time, which is usually represented by Paris, has been changed to Villeret, Montblanc’s Swiss watchmaking headquarters.
The only question remaining is which time zone are you going to take it to first?
Zero Oxygen: The New Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen LE290 Goes to New Heights
Montblanc removes the oxygen from its latest mountaineering timepiece for its new Mark Maker Nimsdai Purja to test on his upcoming expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. Dedicated to making professional timing instruments for today’s explorers, Montblanc’s latest 1858 Geosphere watch sees the addition of a brand-new chronograph movement, devoid of all oxygen.
This “Zero Oxygen” timepiece, limited to 290 pieces, has several benefits for explorers who need their equipment to work in some of the harshest environments. Zero oxygen inside the movement not only eliminates fogging, which can occur with drastic temperature changes at altitude, but also prevents oxidization. Without oxygen, all the components last far longer and will provide greater precision over time.
The Ultimate Test
Each timepiece comes with a zero oxygen certificate that attests to the fact that the watch has been successfully encased without oxygen. In addition to the certificate, each timepiece undergoes the Maison’s unforgiving 500-hour test. But Montblanc wanted to take things one step further by taking the new 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen LE290 on a real mountaineering expedition to the world’s highest mountain above sea level – Mount Everest.
Nimsdai Purja MBE
But who would be up for the challenge? The Maison asked its Mark Maker, the legendary alpinist Reinhold Messner, who also has a Montblanc 1858 Geosphere watch named after him, for suggestions. Messner was not only one of the first men to climb Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen in 1978, but also the first person to summit the mountain solo in 1980.
Without hesitation, Messner put forward the name of Nimsdai Purja, an exemplary mountaineer who was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) from her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom for outstanding achievement in extreme high-altitude mountaineering.
Born in Nepal, Nimsdai started his career in the military, where he spent six years as a Ghurka – the British and Indian army units recruited in Nepal – and then 10 years in the UK’s Special Boat Services (SBS), one of the most elite units in the British Military. He developed an interest in mountaineering during his spare time, after a trek to Everest Base Camp. The experience sparked a passion that would later serve him well in his work as he took part in missions with the SBS’s mountain unit.
In 2019 he left the military to concentrate on extreme altitude mountaineering. Since then, he has achieved numerous mountaineering records, including several of the fastest ascents to the most peaks in a single season (he summited the world’s 14 highest 8,000-meter peaks in an astonishing seven months, smashing the previous record of eight years!).
In May 2022, Nimsdai will undertake an expedition to the summit of The Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen while wearing the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen LE290 on his wrist to put the timepiece through the test. The watch will also experience a memorable moment in time with Nimsdai on Mount Everest so that each owner can look down at their wrist and remember that nothing is impossible.
Preparing the Ascent
In addition to removing the oxygen from inside the case, Montblanc’s watchmakers have made numerous improvements to the timepiece in preparation for this challenging climb.
Firstly, they have chosen specific oils for the movement that will perform perfectly at temperatures as low as -50oC. The precision of a watch movement depends on the lubrication of its components, and Nimsdai cannot afford to have his equipment fail him on the mountain.
Another First: A Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph
Another first for the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere line is the arrival of a chronograph function that can be used to record elapsed time of various operations on the mountain. The new complication is powered by Montblanc’s brand-new MB 29.27 automatic chronograph movement that comes with a central chronograph seconds hand, 30-minute chronograph in a sub dial at three o’clock, and chronograph hour at nine o’clock.
The start/stop pusher is at two o’clock, while the reset button is at four o’clock. The chronograph joins the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere’s unique world time function with its turning globes for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, a 24 hours scale, a day/night indicator, and a date via a disc.
The timepiece comes in a 44mm polished titanium case that is very lightweight to help keep Nimsdai’s equipment weight to a strict minimum. A bi-directional satinated finishing ceramic knurled bezel with cardinal points will also help him keep his bearings on the mountain. And last but not least, a striking new glacial blue dial gives the impression of looking into the depths of a genuine glacier. The dial makers employed an almost-forgotten ancestral technique called gratté boisé to get this spectacular glacial effect.
A Celebration of Everest
Mount Everest is celebrated on the case back of the timepiece. This image of the world’s tallest mountain above sea level depicts the route that Messner took back in 1978. Montblanc uses a very special technique to highlight Mount Everest on the back of the watch, giving it an authentic 3D rendering, providing depth and realism as if it was a photograph. Made of titanium, the metal must first be structured, which means that the decoration will be engraved by laser, taking into consideration the relief of the drawing. Then the desired finish (matt and shiny) is also achieved by laser. Finally comes the colouring phase.
The colours are created with laser-generated oxidation. It is the level of oxidation that determines the final desired colour. Montblanc is one of the most advanced Swiss Maisons to use this technology on such a large surface. This innovation is in line with the brand’s spirit of exploration.
The timepiece comes in a limited edition of 290 pieces, a number that is a nod to the 29,031 feet that Nimsdai will need to climb to reach the summit – adding many additional hours of real-life testing to the ultimate explorer’s watch.