Military watches never go out of style. Despite their rugged, utilitarian roots, consumers go bonkers for their bold designs. As such, they’re fertile ground for watchmakers who want to invoke the past while experimenting with new materials and movements. The Montblanc 1858 Split-Second Chronograph Limited-Edition 18 falls directly into that category: It’s a military-inspired watch that makes use of a striking new “lime gold” case material.
Montblanc’s 1858 line pays tribute to the legendary Minerva timepieces of the 1920s and ’30s, which were developed for military use. The 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition 18 takes a number of cues from those original watches, most notably the telemeter scale around the edge of the dial. According to Montblanc, the telemeter was a common feature on the original Minervas, and it’s a vintage touch with an important function: It allows you to measure the distance of an event that you can see and hear. Engage it when you see lightning, for example, and when you hear thunder, the telemeter’s reading will tell you how far away the strike was from your position.
But the main story with this watch is its unusual color scheme, which is made possible by its unique lime gold case material. It’s a special alloy composed of gold, silver, and iron, and it gives off a “deep golden color that veers towards a pale yellowy green,” according to Montblanc.
Montblanc accents the greenish hue by pairing the watch with a green nubuck strap and adding plenty of green elements on the dial, too. The cathedral-shaped hands and the telemeter and tachymeter scales all sport different shades of green, and the green numerals look as if they’re about to spring off the face of the watch. Montblanc achieved this novel 3D effect by creating the numerals out of blocks of Super Lumi-Nova (aside from the interesting aesthetic, it also makes them easily visible, day or night).
Montblanc offers one final surprise on the reverse side of the 44mm case: A see-through caseback that puts the inner workings of the MB M16.31 movement on full display. This manually wound chronograph movement is another nod to the original Minervas (it’s inspired by their 19-09CH and 17-29 movements), but with its handcrafted finishing, graining, and beveling, it offers a level of craftsmanship not found in such utilitarian timepieces. And it’s very exclusive—Montblanc will manufacture just 18 of these watches.
One thing’s for sure: With its storied pedigree and unique case material, this watch will be the crown jewel of any collection.
The watch retails for $50,000 and is available in Montblanc stores.
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