SHARP & Montblanc
Between its own high standards of craftsmanship, and its connection to the historical watch movement maker Minerva, which it acquired in 2007, there’s already a lot going on in the watch department at Montblanc to get collectors excited. The entire 1858 collection — so named to commemorate the founding of Minerva — dips a toe into vintage-inspired watch design. The cues, from the choice of watch hands, to the dial indices and case profiles, all do just enough to maintain that thread. That said, this goal of connection to history doesn’t rely solely on products alone, as we’ve learned with the launch of this latest edition.
The arrival of the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration continues this tradition of deference and restraint, while embracing the spirit of adventure, and telling the tale of a father and his son. In 1990, Reinhhold Messner made history when he and explorer Arved Fuchs became the first to cross Antarctica on foot with neither animal nor motorized support, covering a distance of 2,800 km, gradually climbing more than 3,000 m, with little more than a compass to guide them. A tale of such magnitude could have inspired this new Geosphere on its own, but this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
1990 was not only the year of Messner’s groundbreaking expedition, but also the year of birth of his son Simon. It’s of little surprise that Simon quickly embraced his father’s love of adventure and exploration. Over the years, Simon tackled numerous ascents in Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, the Alps, and on his home mountains, the Dolomites. The new Geosphere, limited to 1,990 pieces in homage to the departure date of his father’s original expedition, celebrates the Messners’ adventurous spirit, and will support Simon as he takes on Antarctica himself later this year.
Rather than following the route his father originally followed, which is represented on the southern hemisphere subdial of this new watch, the younger Messner is carving his path of his own. With Montblanc’s Watch Director Laurent Lecamp at his side, Simon will be taking part in the Antarctic Ice Marathon on December 13th, 2023. Setting off just a few hundred miles from the South Pole, at the foot of Ellsworth mountains at an altitude of 700 meters, the conditions underfoot will consist of snow and ice with temperatures hovering below 20 degrees Celsius. If that isn’t challenging enough, strong katabatic winds are known to sweep across the area.
This new Geosphere reference marks the arrival of a new colourway for Montblanc. Pulling inspiration from glacial ice — ice formed nearly devoid of air bubbles due to age, density, and mass — this ice absorbs color differently than frozen water elsewhere around the globe, and is known for its unique blue hue. Both the anodized aluminum bezel insert, and the glacier motif dial of the watch adopt the same icy palette.
This glacier dial pattern joined Montblanc’s watchmaking arsenal in 2022, using a special technique designed to create visual depth from a flat surface. A special technique called gratté boisé is its jumping-off point, with each layer being printed, lacquered, polished, and left overnight to dry before the next layer can be applied. It’s an arduous process with over 30 steps taken to craft each dial.
As is often the way with tool watches, the case and dial of the new Geosphere are made of titanium to keep weight to a minimum. Meanwhile, there is another detail to the execution of this watch that is far less common in the category; the hint is in its name. “0 Oxygen” isn’t just there to make its nomenclature more of a mouthful, after all. By filling the case with nitrogen rather than oxygen, not only does Montblanc remove risks of corrosion within the case, but also the risk of fogging underneath its crystal. This is never a concern for day-to-day wear, but in instances of significant temperature shift at elevation, it’s something of a common occurrence for mountaineers, and a risk factor best kept out of the equation.
The 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition has landed in Montblanc boutiques just in time to see Messner and Lecamp’s frigid South Pole adventure. ($9,500)