When it comes to high-end watchmaking, Montblanc’s Villaret workshop is in the top tier, producing the brand’s finest quality pieces of haute horlogerie. The latest limited edition to pass through the workshop is the new 1858 Split-Seconds Chronograph Limited Edition 18, which debuts a new case material and features an astonishing calibre.
As you’d notice from even the quickest glance, the theme behind the styling of this watch is the colour green and with good reason. The case is made from a new gold alloy called lime gold – developed by Montblanc to have a vintage feel and made from a combination of 18K gold, silver and iron. It has a cooler green colouring than most of the common alloys such as rose gold. That colouring is emphasised by the vibrant green Arabic numerals, telemeter, tachymeter and cathedral style hands, as well as the green nubuck strap.
I could easily see this as a design that not everyone will love, the green accents could be construed as too lurid, almost giving the impression of toxic waste. However, I disagree with anyone who thinks so – the colour adds a welcome embellishment to the lime gold and successfully creates the vintage feeling Montblanc were going for. Not to mention that green watches are quite popular at the moment, such as the Grand Seiko Masterpiece Spring Drive, and the 1858 Split-Seconds Chronograph stands out for the unique way the colour has been implemented.
The numerals have been crafted out of Superluminova using a technique that gives them a borderless monobloc design that has rarely, if ever, been seen before. Additionally, the central tachymeter is presented in a spiral shape that gives a quirky asymmetry to the face that borders on novel but remains serious. The boldness of the green is neat against the pale gold.
However, where this watch gets really serious is the movement housed within the 44mm diameter lime gold case – and it’s that big because it has to accommodate the size of the calibre. It’s the MB M16.31, a manual chronograph movement handcrafted in the Minerva workshop at Villaret. It has exquisite finishing with circular graining and Côtes de Genève guilloche on the German silver components.
It’s technically-advanced too, featuring a monopusher with two-column wheels to support the chronograph and split-seconds (aka rattrapante) functions. It runs at a cool 18,000 vph and has a 50-hour power-reserve, living up to what you’d expect from a calibre as elite as this. This piece is as advanced as the perpetual calendars you’d see from top brands like Patek Philippe and it has a comparably high standard of production as well.
When Montblanc says this is a limited edition, they really mean it, only 18 of the timepieces will be produced, so you’d better be certain that you like the green a lot before investing in it. They are priced at €49,500 EUR (approx. £42,430) which sounds like a lot but to be fair to Montblanc, many equivalent watches from the likes of Patek Philippe would sell for as much as triple that.
I like this watch, the lime gold has a brassy quality to it that, combined with the compact scales on the dial, remind me of antique barometers and scientific equipment. Not that I could ever dream of owning one at that price and availability.
Price & Specs:
Model: Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 18
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter x 14.2mm height, polished and satin-finished 18K Lime Gold
Water Resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: In-house Montblanc Calibre MB M16.31, hand-wound
Frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz)
Power Reserve: 50h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph second-hands, split-second hand, tachymeter scale on the central part of the dial and telemeter on the exterior of the dial
Strap: Green nubuck alligator leather
Price/Availability: €49,500 EUR (approx. £42,430), limited to 18 pieces
More details at Montblanc.