Amidst the torrent of new watches that were unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2020 last week, a quirky little timepiece from Montblanc may have gone unnoticed. That timepiece would be the new 1858 24H, a one-handed watch that can also be used a compass in a pinch.
It was only fitting that the watch sit within the 1858 collection, Montblanc’s range of sporty vintage-style timepieces that are inspired by the military watches Minerva made in the 1920’s and 30’s. A one-hand watch is not new – brands like Meistersinger have carved a niche for themselves by producing watches that use only hand to indicate time – and the concept isn’t entirely new either. Tower clocks in the Middle Ages used one hand to indicate the flow of time.
This is not the kind of timepiece to wear on a day when your calendar is chockfull of appointments and to-do lists. It’s clearly a watch meant for leisure days. How it works is simple – a red SuperLuminova-coated hand sweeps over a 24 hour scale that starts and ends at the 6 o’ clock position. Therefore, the sweep of the hand is really an arc that goes from left to right (anticlockwise) on the dial. There are 15 minute-markers on the scale, as mentioned earlier, measuring short intervals of time is not this watch’s raison d'être.
A compass scale with the cardinal points in red is displayed in a beige ring placed on the flange, with markers for approximately every five degrees. The central hand also acts the compass hand. In the Northern Hemisphere, hold the watch horizontally to the ground and rotate it until the extremity of the hour hand is pointing towards the sun. All the cardinal points on the dial will now be aligned correctly. North is located at 24h and South at 12h. In the Southern Hemisphere, the cardinal points are in inverse. The map of the Northern Hemisphere on the black dial and the lines of the 24 meridians made out of luminescent material. The bold hour markers have a beige SuperLuminova coating.
The watch has a vintage navigation instrument-like feel.
The watch uses a 42 mm brushed steel case with beveled lugs and a bezel made of a special alloy of bronze. The fluted bronze crown has the Montblanc emblem in relief. The case, topped by a box-like sapphire crystal, is fitted with a closed caseback with the same “Spirit of Mountain Exploration” engraving like most of the other watches in the 1858 line. With a profile that is 11.2 mm thick, the case is depth-rated to 100 meters.
Caliber MB 24.20, a Sellita movement that has been customized to work with a 24-hour hand, is the engine that powers this watch. It is a 4 Hz movement with a power reserve of 42 hours. The 1858 Automatic 24H is paired a black, NATO strap made by Julien Faure, the same 150-year-old weavers that supply Tudor’s fabric straps.
This is unlikely to be someone’s only wristwatch, but credit where it’s due – the 1858 24H has plenty of character. The watch has a vintage navigation instrument-like feel thanks to the use of brushed steel, bronze, and the map with the meridian lines on the dial. The watch is priced at $3,030.