The Minerva Heritage
The prestigious Minerva Manufacture, founded in Villeret in the Saint-Imier valley in 1858, is now an integral part of the Montblanc watchmaking Manufacture. It is recognised in the profession as one of the great specialists in developing chronographs and sports counters that can measure tiny fractions of time with chronometric precision.
The calibre 13.20 – launched at the start of the 1920s – is one of the emblematic creations of Villeret, and has become one of the foremost mechanical chronograph movements specially developed for wristwatches. The mechanical counter, accurate to a hundredth of second, which was unveiled in 1936, is also of note.
This passion for accurately measuring time, combined with perfect mastery of the various watchmaking processes and its ability to make its own balance wheels and balance springs, enabled Minerva to demonstrate its expertise in the field of timekeeping for demanding professionals. Montblanc is proud of this heritage, and is now continuing in this tradition by developing new high-quality calibres, made using the same traditional methods that Montblanc has always been keen to respect.
Montblanc’s wish to demonstrate the value of 158 years of rich heritage and to be constantly looking for best watchmaking performance is also expressed through its ability to pay tribute to its abundant past while enriching the Maison with new pieces.
In keeping with this principle, Montblanc has found inspiration in the design of the legendary Minerva wristwatches of the 1930s, taking historic elements from these classic designs and transforming them into an urban-cool vintage look today. On the historical side, a fluted crown with a coaxial push-piece is reminiscent of the early crowns that were designed for easy grasp, while the elegant deep black dial, contrasting with its large white luminescent Arabic numerals, large “cathedral” hands, counters and a railway track, is also typical of the period. Round cases with curved horns have all been refined, completing the contemporary look. The aesthetics of the Montblanc 1858 Collection honour the vintage designs of Minerva’s historic timepieces, highlighting the spirit of adventure that has always been at the heart of the collection.
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Small Second
The Montblanc 1858 Automatic Small Second is housed in a 44-mm stainless steel case with a refined decoration of the Minerva Manufacture set against the Jura Mountains on the caseback. The historic Minerva logo is also inscribed, along with the Roberts Frères Villeret “RFV” logo and the emblem of the Goddess Minerva, paying tribute to the Minerva heritage that dates back to 1858. On the dial of the timepiece, the contemporary interpretation shines through with a design that extrapolates the codes of the historic timepieces produced by Minerva with indications for the hours and minutes and direct-drive small seconds at 6 o’clock. This new model is powered by a precision automatic movement, the MB 24.16, and features a vintage-style winding crown that is ideally proportioned for everyday use. Both its fine curved horns, designed to follow the natural curvature of the wrist, and its pure and strong design, make this timepiece particularly pleasant to wear.
A Vintage Dial
Lovers of traditional watchmaking will particularly appreciate the fine bezel that maximises the clarity of the dial, both at night and during the day. It does this at night thanks to 12 large Arabic numerals and “cathedral” hands coated with white Super-LumiNova®* , a non-radioactive material that remains luminescent for a long time. To further underline the retro design with the aged appearance of the luminescent paint, the dial features the historic Montblanc logo from the 1930s and a seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, which is typical of this kind of instrument in the 1930s.
Following on from the success of the Montblanc 1858 Small Second with a manually-wound movement, the Maison is now offering for the first time in the collection an automatic-winding version with its precision calibre MB 24.16. This movement, with 31 jewels, a 38-hour power reserve, and a balance that oscillates at 28,800 vibrations an hour, brings all the practicality of an automatic movement with a combination of Swiss artisanal watchmaking and modernity.