The 1858 Small Second was the final proof, if any was needed, that the ‘new’ Montblanc is planning a full on assault at all styles of replica watchmaking – fine, high and accessible – and all styles of Montblanc replica watches. Now including the military classics this one references.
Don’t worry. The Montblanc1858 Replica was a complete surprise to us too. As it was to everybody, except Jerome Lambert. No sooner had we all adjusted to the slimmer, dressier Montblanc Heritage Chronometrie range (which we excitedly received, despite mutterings from some quarters about its likeness to the new CEO’s old employer) than we were all being asked to consider yet another visage of Montblanc. This time a military, 30s era trope with closer ties in design code terms to Minerva than ever before.
So, let’s recap. We have the chunky, bold art-deco blockiness of the Timewalker range. The Rieussec Timewriter range. The bigger-seller-than-anybody-realises (apparently) 4810 stalwart. The Star entry level. The breakthrough Heritage Chronometrie range which has housed huge steps forward technically too, like the ‘troublemaker’ / accessible perpetual calendar and the ExoTourbillon. This is also not to mention the rarefied Villeret range, Montblanc’s impressive top end of town.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m distributing a quick slap to the cheeks. Eyes to mine. Are you still reading? See, it’s not a dearth of ideas that plagues Montblanc, it might well be a surplus. If there isn’t some refinement, and some falling into line, in coming collections we may find the brand’s momentum compromised, or dispersed, by confusion. Montblanc may want to cast an eye over Tudor’s 2013 / 2014 and 2015 collections to see that less is almost always more when it comes to crafting memorable stories around replica watches. There’s one particular person that has been a key figure in these campaigns, perhaps they could connect with him? Oh wait, they have. Welcome to the team, Davide Cerrato.
Because, even with the long preamble, we haven’t even got to the 1858 Small Second yet. The replica watch that, in its assured, classic way might be the buzziest model yet, if not just for its appearance in the middle of last year on people’s Instagram feeds absolutely out of nowhere.
If this replica watch were a military man, his uniform would fit nice. Over a muscular body. And he would have integrity. You see, this replica watch, right off the bat, does not reference military replica watches, it perfects them. The cathedral hands, the railroad chapter ring, the onion crown; it’s all there, and there’s plenty in the detail to discover. But we’ll get to that. For now, let’s approach this replica watch the way Montblanc should be approaching their ranges from now on; with the simplest possible premise. It’s a military style replica watch made for the intrepid outdoors-type. It even has a mountain for a logo.
Although Montblanc Mens Replica had been steadily strengthening its timepiece offering for the better part of the last decade, it is only in the last 2 years or so that the Richemont-owned brand has really kicked things up a gear (or four), leading those unfamiliar with the brand to ask “what the hell happened?” The answer is of course not so much what happened but rather who; Jerome Lambert.
Since taking over the reins at Montblanc High Quality Replica Watches a couple of years back the former CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre (a fellow Richemont stablemate) has all but re-invented the brand into a well-respected maker of high-end timepieces. Last year it seemed the focus was on creating affordable entry-level timepieces that offered exceptional value for money whilst still demonstrating the brand’s technical savvy (like a Perpetual Calendar in steel for $13k).
This year however the gloves are off and the brand has come out with the heavy hitters, including the superb Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph, which is not even the most complicated piece the brand has launched this year. It is however one of my favorites and here’s why.
Presented in a 44mm red gold case complete with concave bezel for scratch protection, the clean looking dial combines what Montblanc says are two of the most important chronometric complications: a chronograph and a revolutionary tourbillon.
Effectively split in two, the upper dial, which has been nicely embellished with a fine ivory-grainé texture, displays the date, hours and minutes as well as the unique chronograph indicators. The lower level meanwhile features vertical satin finishes and allows for detailed viewing of the exquisite ExoTourbillon at 6 o’clock. It’s complex and yet simple at the same time, giving the replica watch a level of intuitive practicality that others made in the same vein can only grasp at.
To make all this possible the ExoTourbillon Chronograph is powered by the Manufacture Calibre MB R230, which has been developed and manufactured completely in-house and features a column-wheel and vertical coupling, along with a double barrel which provide 50 hours of power in reserve when fully wound.
As an added bonus it features a mono-pusher chronograph, which means you use a button set into the crown to control the chronograph. This is of course begs the obvious question, if the crown controls the chronograph, what the heck is the pusher at 8 o’clock for? I’m glad you asked. Another handy little feature from Montblanc, the hours can be manually advanced forward with a simple push of the button for when you travel to a different time-zone. Not a game-changer by any means sure but still nice to have.