A Timepiece Pays Homage To The Prestigious Minerva Heritage
Paying tribute to the heritage of its manufacture in Villeret, founded under the name Minerva and acquired in 2007 by Montblanc, the Maison presents a timepiece inspired by Villeret’s legendary Minerva chronographs. The prestigious Minerva manufacture was the reference in the field of chronographs and stopwatches during the 1920s and ‘30s.
These legendary timekeepers were able to measure fractions of a second with the utmost precision — a feat of horological manufacturing for the time. Calibres such as the reference 13.20, launched in the 1920s, were among the very first to be conceived specifically for wristwatches, while the Calibre 19.14, unveiled in 1936, could measure the hundredth of a second. Montblanc’s split-second stopwatches also gained international recognition when they were used for timing the 1936 Winter Olympics, which reinforced the Maison’s reputation.
Most watchmakers outsourced their watch components throughout those two decades, whereas Minerva mastered the majority of its fabrication in-house, including its balance wheels and springs…and the same remains true today. This year, Montblanc continues this passion for fine watchmaking by honoring Minerva’s emblematic chronographs of yesteryear with a new manufacture 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition 100.
Inspired by a monopusher chronograph from the 1930s, this new limited edition of 100 pieces captures the innovative spirit of the decade by uniting a number of the original design features with one of Villeret’s most elegant manufacture, hand-wound chronographs— the Calibre MB M16.29 — featuring a column wheel and a horizontal disc clutch.
A vintage inspiration
On the historical side, a fluted crown with a coaxial push-piece is reminiscent of the early crowns that were designed for easy grasp, while the elegant dial, with its large white luminescent Arabic numerals and a railway track, is also typical of the period. The small seconds at nine o’clock, the chronograph 30-minutes counter at three o’clock, the retro Montblanc logo, used from the beginning of the 21st century, and the large “cathedral” hands, with their cloisonné design filled with white Super-LumiNova®, all stay faithful to the original design.
Montblanc’s 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition 100 celebrates both traditional Swiss artisanal watchmaking and the rich heritage of Montblanc’s Villeret Manufacture, but offers a contemporary twist to the past with a large 44 mm stainless steel case with slightly enlarged lugs, to keep the proportions of the case the same. The addition of a deep blue dial with a tachymetric scale for measuring speeds over distance, along with a matching blue alligator strap, also contribute to reinforcing the vintage look of this historical timepiece.
Under the dial, Montblanc has equipped the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition 100 with its monopusher chronograph with column wheel and horizontal disc clutch that fills the whole 44 mm case. This movement shares the same architecture as its predecessor — the Minerva pocket watch Calibre 17.29 from 1929 — although it has been re-designed extensively with hand-finishings, including Côtes de Genève motifs, extensive bevelling, angling and snailing, all respecting the finest codes of Haute Horlogerie.
Looking through the caseback, it is possible to see the iconic engraved “V” chronograph bridge, which has been a feature of Minerva chronographs since 1912, as well as the Minerva arrow-shaped chronograph hammer that can be found in almost all the modern Montblanc/Minerva movements. Other features include a large screw-regulated balance wheel and a swan-neck regulator. The calibre is comprised of 252 components and beats at a frequency of 2.5 Hertz with a power reserve of 50 hours.
Uniting the reference in chronographs with the innovations of the present, the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Blue Limited Edition 100 is the perfect example of how Montblanc pays homage to the prestigious Minerva calibres. From 1858, Minerva was committed to producing precision timepieces with high-quality calibres, and Montblanc continues this tradition and heritage today.