This year sees Montblanc introduce bronze into its watch collections for the very first time – and we have to say they’ve done it in an unusual and (as is typical for the brand) very smart way. With the exception of the high-end Villeret piece, Montblanc has avoided releasing full bronze-cased watches, instead employing the distinctive alloy in a much more tactical manner.
In the case of the latest version of the 1858 Automatic, bronze is used on the bezel and crown, leaving the rest of the 44mm body in steel. Besides offering a very different take on two-tone, this approach is quite clever. The high-touch areas of crown and bezel will patina up quite nicely, but overall the watch won’t be as overwhelming as a full bronze case (which, we suspect, will mean it appeals to more people).
The bronze elements aren’t the only vintage accents at play here – the black dial features the historic Montblanc logo, and numerals and hands painted in ‘bronze’ luminescent material. The final touch is the truly excellent strap, a supple cognac coloured calfskin number with double stitching in a style that has been very much in fashion among vintage collectors in recent years.
Most models in the 1858 collection are manually wound (appropriate given their heritage nature), and the few previous automatics have still kept the small seconds at six. This is the first automatic to run as a time-only piece, and some might find the lack of constant movement disconcerting. Given how unlikely it is that the automatic movement will take up too much space in the large case, the solid back is a good choice on Montblanc’s behalf. Don’t take that to mean that the caseback has gone to waste – it’s been decorated with a handsome engraving of the Minerva Manufacture building, a very visual reminder of the legitimacy of their heritage claims.
As we said at the start, Montblanc has been very smart with the 1858 Automatic. Not just in the judicious use of bronze, but in putting all the elements of this timepiece together in a neat and careful way, resulting in a warm and fashion-friendly vintage-styled piece at a highly competitive price.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic pricing
Montblanc 1858 Automatic, steel and bronze, 3490 Euro.