At this stage in the game, bronze watches aren’t anything new; Panerai, Oris and Tudor have all played a role in pushing the patina-friendly metal mainstream. But until now, bronze has been the playground of tool-like dive watches, serious timepieces licked by salt and spray until a fine verdigris of adventure forms on the rugged case. Well, the latest wonder from Montblanc’s Villeret collection is set to challenge our perceptions of what this ancient metal means to watches.
Far from a rough-and-ready diver, the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter is a superbly refined monopusher chronograph, dripping in old-world charm, replete with historic logo, cathedral-style hands and a dial layout that wouldn’t look out of place on the wrist of a silk-scarf-and-shearling-wearing aviator. The bronze case amplifies all of these details, bathing the whole ensemble in a warm golden glow. The harmony between the case and the champagne dial is particularly pleasing. And while the use of bronze to evoke history isn’t new, Montblanc has smartly avoided concocting a contrived marketing narrative linking this frankly trendy material to some sort of nautical origin story. They’ve simply created a very handsome heritage piece, and clad it in a metal that – visually and culturally – speaks to the passage of time.
What really sets the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter apart is that it isn’t simply a cosmetic heritage piece, with yet another stock ebauche ticking away inside. No, the caliber MB M16.29 is essentially a vintage pocket watch movement, a gorgeously traditional piece of craftsmanship, finished to the highest degree. And because this is a larger movement, there’s no empty space in the (decidedly modern-sized) 44mm case.
For all Montblanc’s focus on the more accessible end of town (we’ll show you the new bronze and steel 1858 models next week), watches like this prove the brand can compete with the best of them when it comes to high-end fine watchmaking. Not only do they have what it takes in terms of quality and craftsmanship, but they’ve proven, once again, that their design team is capable of smart, sensitive work, resulting in what we’re sure will be one of the big hits of SIHH 2017. We can’t wait to try it on.
Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition in bronze price and availability
Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter, limited to 50 pieces, with an indicative price of 23,100 Euro