Montblanc Introduces the 1858 Split Second Chronograph in Smoked Red

Eight watches for retailer Sincere.

Just last year Montblanc introduced the 1858 Split Second Chronograph powered by a gorgeous, mono-pusher Minerva movement. Debuted in a bronze case, the watch was a hit, and for good reason, it combined attractive, well-chosen vintage details and an well-finished movement, all for a very fair price.

Having unveiled several other limited-edition versions of the watch since, Montblanc is continuing with the theme with the 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 8, an exclusive for Singapore-based retailer Sincere Fine Watches that has a smoked, dark red dial and a titanium case.

The 1858 Split Second Chronograph for Sincere

Initial thoughts

After the launch edition, Montblanc debuted an eight-piece limited edition in November 2019 made for Mexican watch fair Salón Internacional Alta Relojería (SIAR) that had a striking jade dial, which was followed by a hundred-piece limited edition with a stunning gradient-blue grand feu enamel dial in April of this year. And in between, it managed to put together a one-off example with an agate dial for charity auction Only Watch 2019.

That makes the new Sincere edition the fifth iteration of the 1858 split seconds in less than 24 months. But fortunately it does not feel overdone – yet – given the small production runs for each version, as well as the interesting variety of dial materials.

The first version of the 1858 split seconds in bronze

The most obvious point of appeal of the watch is movement, which is derived from a 1930s Minerva movement conceived for pocket watches, explaining the large size and old-school construction.

But the model’s appeal also lies in its plentiful vintage details inspired by 1930s aviator’s chronographs. That holds true in the new version, but you have to like red.

Here the design has been made more striking with a deep, wine-red dial lacquered finish that fades to black on the periphery, a lustrous colour achieved by applying 15 layers of translucent lacquer over the red base coat, followed by a polish to create a smooth, flat, and graduated finish.

Vintage cues on the dial include cathedral hands and spiral tachymeter scale

The specs remain identical to those of the previous versions: a 44 mm case with a mono-pusher, rattrapante chronograph. And therefore it is a big and thick watch like the original. It’s wearable, but slightly chunky, though the titanium case helps trim the weight.

The retail price of 51,000 Singapore dollars (or about US$38,000) is roughly the same as that of the original in bronze, which is a fair ask, given the excellent movement finishing and complication. In fact, the 1858 Split Second Chronograph is arguably a bargain as far as traditionally-constructed split-seconds chronographs go.

The pusher co-axial with the crown starts, stops, and resets the chronograph, whereas the crown at two o’clock engages the rattrapante mechanism

Vintage-inspired inside and out

The dial is multi-scale, and modelled on chronographs of the early 20th century. It has a telemeter as the outermost track and a snail-shaped tachymeter in its center. Cathedral hands and a resurrected vintage Montblanc logo round out the retro aesthetics.

Though the dial is busy, legibility is ensured by the Super-LumiNova on the hands and hour numerals, along with stark white print for all the scales.

The 44 mm case is in titanium

The case is 44 mm in diameter and 15.2 mm in thickness, with predominantly brushed surfaces matched with a polished bezel and prominent polished bevels on the lugs.

Though 44 mm seems oversized for a vintage-inspired chronograph, the size is necessitated by the movement. The hand-finished MB M16.31 is derived from a pocket watch movement, with a split-seconds mechanism added on top.

Befitting a pocket watch calibre, the balance beats at an old-fashioned 2.5 Hz; it’s is attached to an in-house, overcoil hairspring adjusted with a swan’s neck regulator index. And the finishing of the movement is similarly classical – the chronograph levers are brushed on their tops and have hand-executed bevels on their edges. Multiple components, including both column wheels, are black polished, and the movement rewards owners with several sharp interior angles on the bevelled edges of components.

The MB M16.31 as seen in the bronze version of the watch

The split-seconds mechanism at top centre

Key facts and price

Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 8
Ref. 128131

Diameter: 44 mm
Height: 15.2 mm
Material: Titanium
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: MB M16.31
Functions: Hours and minutes; split-seconds chronograph
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Hand wind
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Limited edition: Eight pieces
Only at Sincere Fine Watches
Price: 51,000 Singapore dollars (equivalent to US$38,000)

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