Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins

A Chronograph Named Origins

Paying tribute to the origins of Minerva, Montblanc unveils the new Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100, a re-edition of a 46 mm military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s that was equipped with the calibre 19-09CH.

When customers or journalists visit the Manufacture museum in Villeret, they are often surprised by the modernity and beauty of a 46 mm Minerva military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s. This timepiece, with its black dial and luminescent vintage elements, served as the main inspiration for the entire Montblanc 1858 collection, hence the name Origins. While every detail from the original watch has been taken into account – from the dial to the case and movement – the re-edition goes much further.

The Origins

A leading specialist in the fabrication of professional watches and stopwatches, Minerva developed the 46 mm military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s equipped with the calibre 19-09CH. This historical timepiece featured a large case size which was unusual for the time. This size allowed watchmakers to integrate the calibre 19-09, a movement of 19 lines developed in 1909 that was initially intended for a pocket watch. Far from the round pebble-shape of pocket watches, however, the case of the chronograph was specially developed for a wristwatch, leading to a particularly modern look that integrated all the comfort and ergonomy needed. The original timepiece showcased a black dial with bi-compax counters and cathedral-shaped hands coated with Super-LumiNovaÒ, which were designed for military use and provided excellent readability both during the day and night.

Historical Minerva Calibre 19-09CH - 30th September 1909 (Archives/Montblanc)
Historical Minerva Calibre 19-09CH – 30th September 1909 (Archives/Montblanc)
Movement quality control book N°7 page 164 - 30th September 1909 (Archives/Montblanc)
Movement quality control book N°7 page 164 – 30th September 1909 (Archives/Montblanc)

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins Limited Edition 100

Inspired by the 46 mm Minerva military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s, the new limited edition pays tribute to the origins of the Manufacture. The timepiece goes beyond a simple re-edition, keeping key elements of the original model while integrating vintage twists. Equipped with the Manufacture monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29, the Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins features a 46 mm case made of a special alloy of bronze, a distinctive “officer” case back, a vintage black dial with beige elements, and a matching brown Sfumato alligator strap.

The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins case has been made in a special alloy of bronze that will obtain an attractive patina over time and is reminiscent of exploration tools from the past.  An “officer” case back has been added, just like in traditional pocket watches, protecting the movement, which is adorned with distinctive engravings on both sides. The outside of the “officer” case back features the head of the Minerva Goddess. The inside of the cover bears the inscription “Ré-édition du chronographe militaire Minerva des années 1930 doté d’un calibre fait main dans la pure tradition horlogère suisse” (Re-edition of a  Minerva military chronograph from the 1930s equipped with a hand-made calibre  following the Swiss watchmaking tradition).

Montblanc uses a very innovative technique to create the image of the Minerva Goddess on the “officer” back giving it an authentic rendering in 3-dimensions, 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 by laser-generated oxidation. It is the level of oxidation that determines the final colour obtained (and desired). Montblanc is one of the most advanced Swiss Maisons to use of this technology on such a large surface. This innovation is in line with the brand’s spirit of exploration.

When opening the “officer” case back, the beauty of the Manufacture monopusher chronograph calibre MB M16.29 is revealed, showing an authentic reconstruction of the Minerva chronograph calibre dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. For this limited edition, the execution of the movement is of particular note as the main plate and bridges have been left in raw Maillechort (also called “German-silver”), a high-end traditional material used in Minerva movements in former times. The Maillechort gives a slightly yellowish finish, rather than the more common rhodium coating. Traditional finishings such as Côtes de Genève, inner angles, circular graining, and bevelling are, of course, all performed at the same Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret.

Like on the original chronograph calibre, the MB M16.29 features the iconic V-shape bridge (whose design was protected in 1912), a column wheel, horizontal coupling, and a traditional frequency of 18,000 A/h. As a tribute to historical movements, the Minerva arrow is visible at the extremity of the chronograph “blocker”.

Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins

The timepiece comes with a black dial that has been paired with contrasting rose gold-coloured cathedral-shaped hands and numerals with beige Super-LumiNovaÒ for greater legibility at night. This enhanced readability continues onto the Arabic numerals as well as on the hour and minute hands thanks to additional touches of luminescence. A nod to the original chronograph comes in the form of a Minerva logo on the dial that is symmetrically positioned below the historical Montblanc logo at 6 o’clock.

Other vintage details include bi-compax counters with large small seconds and minutes chronograph, as well as a railway minute track that have all been reproduced from the original design.

The Montblanc 1858 Monopusher Chronograph Origins is completed with a brand-new vintage-style brown Sfumato alligator strap with beige stitching and is strictly limited to 100 pieces.

About the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret

The Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret is a very special place that possesses the know-how, technology, and machines to produce a movement from A to Z, making all the main components in-house, such as the plates and bridges in Maillechort (German-silver) with traditional hand-crafted decoration.

In addition to this, the Montblanc Manufacture in Villeret is one of the rare workshops that has the know-how to make the spiral in-house and assemble it into the balance wheel, a highly complex and age-old mechanism that manages the frequency of the movement.  There are few places in the world of watchmaking quite like Villeret. From the basement where the raw bars of different metals are waiting to be tooled, to the top floors where the watchmakers assemble the movements and encase the timepieces.

And before the assembly stage, each component will pass by the manufacture’s traditional finishings workshop where Côtes de Genève, inner angles, circular graining, and bevelling is performed following traditional techniques that still use the stalks of the local gentian plant to give the final polishing touch.

Montblanc – A Swiss watchmaker since 1858

Montblanc watchmaking is built on a special set-up that brings two manufactures together, based in Le Locle and in Villeret, in the Swiss Jura mountains.

The Montblanc watchmaking story began in 1858 when Charles-Ivan Robert founded a watch workshop in the Saint-Imier valley. This marked the beginning of the historic Minerva era. By the end of the 19th century, their pocket watches started to gain recognition for their crown winding system. The Minerva Manufacture’s success resulted in the company becoming a leading specialist in professional watches (stopwatches & chronographs) for measuring small intervals of time with high precision during the 20th century.

Today, the Montblanc timepieces continue the journey of over 160 years of Minerva history in four fine watchmaking areas with Star Legacy, Heritage, TimeWalker and Montblanc 1858 product lines, all linking the past and the present through design, style and technical innovation.