Storytelling and imagery are important players in communication, creating connection, emotion and, as a result, remembrance.
Watches and Wonders 2023 in Geneva was rife with stories, often told most dramatically by the watch brands’ respective exhibit space. From the fantasy of jewels at Van Cleef & Arpels to A. Lange & Sohne’s Odysseus Chronograph, there was a lot to take in and even more to inspire.
Walking into the Montblanc booth, for example, was like entering a mountain landscape, where shades of gray, white and wood conjured the primary palette and motif of this year’s watch debuts. The bold imagery also served as a link between the art of writing—Montblanc’s foundation in pens since 1906—time, and the theme of exploration. And owing to the brand’s reputation in handcrafting its pen points, the centerpiece was a dramatic oversize Montblanc nib pendulum, which uninterruptedly drew mountain scenes on a round canvas suggestive of a watch dial.
Montblanc’s Managing Director Watch Division Laurent Lecamp emphasized the importance of imagery and storytelling to share important themes. “Story is the soul of the world of Montblanc,” he explained to me during our recent interview. Thus the company often engages high-profile individuals, fans of the brand, to help recount the narrative.
Reinhold Messner and Nimsdai Purja, mountaineers and Montblanc “Mark-Makers,” inspired Montblanc’s intricate art-inspired booth space, as well as the new watches in the collection. Even the walls told a tale, incorporating the men’s words taken from their written accounts of climbing expeditions.
Following suit, the 1858 Zero Oxygen The 8000 watch collection on display for the first time revealed colors that recall the rock and ice found at high altitudes, made using zero oxygen technology.
All four of the Montblanc 1858 Zero Oxygen 8000 Capsule Collection debuts join Montblanc’s Zero Oxygen series. The collection’s timepieces boast zero oxygen inside their cases to not only eliminate fogging, but also to prevent oxidization.
Taking the imagery one step further, the very beautiful and complex Montblanc Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph, while not specifically among the 8000 Capsule Collection models, nonetheless displays a distressed steel case created partly by tumbling and brushing the metal with quartzite straight from the company’s namesake mountain, Mont Blanc.
The Japanese manga and anime series “Naruto” is the inspiration for Montblanc’s latestSummit 3 smart watch.
The series, created by Japanese artist and storyteller Masashi Kishimoto, became part of the zeitgeist twenty years ago, capturing the imaginations of people worldwide with its universal themes and relatable characters.
The limited edition Montblanc Summit 3 Smartwatch x Naruto features Naruto iconography—like engravings of the eponymous ninja’s signature weapons on the 42mm steel watch case and a Naruto-inspired embossed strap.
Similarly, the aperture at 6 o’clock on the dial frames an image of Naruto, and orange details recall the manga’s colorful presentation. “Montblanc x Naruto Shippuden” is at 12 o’clock.
“Naruto is a cultural phenomenon that appeals across generations because it addressed life lessons in a dynamic, compelling, and accessible way,” says Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki.
“One of those lessons is the value that comes from the transmission of knowledge, a theme that is closely connected to Montblanc’s own heritage in handwriting and its ongoing mission to inspire people to leave their mark on the world in a meaningful and purposeful way.”
The smart watch’s operating system is Wear OS by Google 3.0; it is compatible with iOS and Android, and it includes 1 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage. Its sensors include a heart rate monitor, as well as a barometer, accelerometer, gyroscope and more.
Summit 3 is Montblanc’s latest development in smart watches. Two straps are included with the watch: leather and rubber.
The Montblanc x Naruto capsule collection also comprises a Meisterstück fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint, as well as orange ink and a leather notebook. New leather products, also with Naruto imagery, include crossbody bags, a tote and pouch, as well as smaller leather goods.
All week we’re reviewing 2022 debuts presented during Watches and Wonders 2022 that, perhaps, you didn’t read too much about in the first wave of online reporting.
As Montblanc’s first diving watch, the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date catches your eye with its ‘frozen’ dial. Not actually ice (though that would be impressive) the dials on all three versions of this 41mm steel dive watch artfully mimic a glacier.
More specifically, the dial makers report that they climbed up to the glacial lakes of Mont Blanc to find their muse. Ascending via the Chamonix Valley to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), Montblanc designers say they “were captivated by the texture of the glacial ice with its interlocking network of crystals that have been frozen in time for millennia.”
The dial work, made possible with an age-old technique called gratté-boisé, is stunning. The dial’s depth and intricate crags and crevices are all better when viewed live than they appear in pictures.
And turning the watch over reveals a case back with a three-dimensional relief engraving of an iceberg and a scuba diver exploring the waters below.
As a certified diving timing instrument, conforming to the ISO 6425 norm, the 1858 Iced Sea has undergone the Montblanc Laboratory 500 Hour Test to ensure that it is shock resistant, anti-magnetic, extreme temperature resistant and water-resistant (to 300 meters). The 12.9mm-thick steel case protects an automatic Sellita movement.
This watch also includes a wet-suit adjustable v-shaped stainless-steel tapered bracelet that the wearer can easily swap for a rubber strap without the need to return to the boutique or use of any tools.
Montblanc offers the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date with three different dial colors, blue, green and black, each with a matching unidirectional bezel.
Montblanc has long taken full advantage of the inherent beauty of its historic Minerva caliber MB 16.29 monopusher chronograph, displaying the movement’s fluidly interconnected bridges, plates and gears to great advantage through the back of multiple limited edition watches.
With the new 1858 Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph, a 2022 debut highlight offered in a steel and a ‘lime’ gold case, Montblanc flips the movement over to display all its eye-catching curves and finishes directly on the dial side of the watch.
What might appear to be a skeletonized movement is actually the side of the caliber Montblanc has typically framed for the viewer in recent debuts via a clear sapphire caseback.
In order to reverse the caliber, Montblanc added twenty-one components while retaining the caliber’s familiar Minerva arrow and the V- shaped bridge. All the German silver components are intensely polished using Montblanc’s own special snailed diamantage coquille motif and methods. And echoing vintage movement design on display, Montblanc re-introduces a fluted bezel first seen in 1927 to frame the reversed caliber.
Montblanc fits both 1858 Unveiled Secret Minerva Monopusher Chronograph models with an engraved caseback with an image of the firm’s Villeret manufacture and the v-shaped mountains in the background.
Montblanc will issue two limited editions of eighteen and fifty-eight pieces, in Lime Gold and stainless steel respectively. The Lime Gold version comes with green hands and numerals and is attached to the wrist with a green alligator leather strap with grey stitching. The stainless-steel edition, with its white gold fluted bezel, comes with a blue alligator leather strap with blue stitching. Prices: $33,500 (steel) and $48,000 (lime gold).
Also new for Montblanc, as seen at Watches & Wonders 2022:
The Montblanc 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow, a 42mm steel-cased column-wheel chronograph (with Caliber MB M13.21), a limited edition of 88. Price: $30,500.
The Montblanc 1858 GMT Automatic Date (above), a 42mm two-time-zone model. Price: Starting at $3,515 and up to $4,100 for model with personalized caseback.
The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date (above), a steel Montblanc dive model (the brand’s first) with special glacier-effect dial in green, black or blue. Stunning dial. Prices: $2,975 to $3,190.
The Montblanc 1958 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen, a Zero Oxygen 44mm titanium adventure watch. Price: $8,600, limited to 290 pieces.
We’ll show you more about these debuts in future posts.
Focusing on its vintage-styled 1858 collection, Montblanc in 2020 is adding artisanal blue dials to its 1858 Split Second Chronograph and one 1858 Geosphere world timer watch while also introducing an all-new one-hand, 24-hour watch and a bronze-cased 1858 Monopusher Chronograph.
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H is the newest design among the four debuts and displays the time using one hand to indicate time on a 24-hour scale. As one of the few Montblanc 24-hour watches available, the new 1858 Automatic 24H also serves another function: compass. (You may recall the 2018 Montblanc 1858 Pocket Watch Limited Edition 100, which also features a single 24-hour hand but includes additional chronograph timing hands – and a compass on its back.) Here, Montblanc has printed a compass scale in a beige ring on the outside of the dial, with markers for approximately every five degrees, and includes the cardinal points in red.
To use the hand as a compass (in the northern hemisphere) simply ensure the watch is correctly set and then hold it horizontal to the ground. Then rotate it until the tip of the hour hand is pointing towards the sun. In this position, all the cardinal points on the dial will be correctly aligned. North is located at ‘24h’ and South at ‘12h’.
As one of Montblanc’s ‘adventure’ themed models, the new watch is carefully color coded and heavy with SuperLuminova. Not only is the red-tipped single hand colored red, it is luminescent, as is the map of the Northern Hemisphere and twenty-four meridians on the black dial.
The 42mm automatic watch is cased in a new stainless steel case with a bronze bezel, creating the vintage look that marks the 1858 collection. On the back you will find a “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraving. At its $3,030 price, we expect the Montblanc 1858 Automatic 24H to compete directly with the other relatively few one-hand watches currently on the market.
Montblanc’s 1858 Geosphere, the brand’s worldtimer with quite distinctive turning, slightly domed globes at the top (Northern Hemisphere) and bottom (Southern Hemisphere) of its dial has been among the most impressive world time watches in its price range since its debut just a few years ago. Previously available with a steel case and in a bronze case, the 1858 Geosphere is now available with a lighter grade-5 titanium case, here combined with a blue dial and ‘icy’ white accents.
Still at 42mm in diameter, the 1858 Geosphere’s titanium case is topped with a fluted, bi-directional stainless steel bezel that Montblanc then further decorates with shiny blue ceramic bezel and four engraved luminescent directional markers.
On the new 1858 Geosphere, the two domed globes are each surrounded by a fixed 24-timezone scale that includes a day/night blue indicator. A second time zone is indicated at nine o’clock and a date, linked to the local time, is at three o’clock.
For added ‘adventure’ effect, Montblanc marks the world’s Seven Summits and Mont Blanc on the turning globes with blue dots. They are also engraved on the caseback along with a drawing of Mont Blanc, a compass, and two crossed ice pick-axes. Price: With blue dial: $5,800 (on leather) and $6,200. Black dial with bracelet: $5,800.
Also for 2020, Montblanc adds two new versions of existing chronographs, both with unusual, high-end features and vintage designs.
One, the 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 100, is the latest of Montblanc’s stunning reinterpretations of historical 44mm Minerva military monopusher chronographs from the 1930s with its distinctive snail tachymeter scale dial. This newest edition comes cased in (44mm) titanium and with a new, vibrant blue grand feu enamel gold dial.
Inside Montblanc places its own manufacture monopusher chronograph caliber MB M16.31 that features two column wheels, horizontal coupling and a power reserve of fifty hours. The movement is beautifully designed to echo the original 1930s Minerva caliber 17.29. From the back you’ll see the same V- shape bridge as the original, along with a large balance wheel beating at the traditional frequency of 18,000 bph.
The new model continues the vintage aesthetic Montblanc nailed when this collection debuted in 2015. Echoing the collection, this new blue-dialed limited edition features a satin-finished case, polished lugs with beveled edges, a fluted crown and a domed sapphire crystal. Price: $36,000
1858 Monopusher Chronograph
Finally, Montblanc in 2020 adds to its 1858 Monopusher Chronograph collection with a new Limited Edition 1858 in a 42mm bronze case. Formerly only available in steel (and additionally within the Montblanc Heritage collection), the 1858 version of this monopusher chronograph adds a bit of adventure to the truly useful, vintage-inspired function by surrounding the black dial with a beige-railway track and a telemeter scale.
Echoing Minerva chronographs from the 1930s, the entire 1858 Chronograph line, including its two-pusher and mono-pusher models, is one of the brand’s highest-value designs.
Here, Montblanc creates an in-house module that it pairs with a Sellita caliber to ensure that the monopusher function is available at an affordable price. As a monopusher, the watch’s start, stop and reset can be activated through a single pusher integrated into the crown.
You’ll see beige-SuperLuminova numerals and rose-gold-coated, cathedral-shaped luminescent hands on the bronze and steel-cased 1858 Monopusher Chronographs. The bronze watch ($5,600) is available with an interesting new beige NATO strap. Two other unlimited models are available in stainless steel ($5,200), one of which comes with a new stainless steel bracelet made of a mix of link shapes, and a third set with an aged, cognac-colored calfskin strap.