Inspired by a real-life adventurer, Montblanc delves into the desert with its new Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition timepiece.
When we think of deserts we tend to think of the great Sahara, Saudi’s Empty Quarter, or perhaps Botswana’s Kalahari. However, one of the world’s great deserts can be found here in Asia. The Gobi Desert spans China and Mongolia and is the world’s fifth-largest, which at 1,600km across is no small measure. More than just a destination sans rain, the Gobi is also recognized as an important paleontological site and played a vital role in the trade routes of the Silk Road.
Someone who knows the Gobi well is explorer, author and mountaineer Reinhold Messner, who was the first to trek 2,000km solo across the desert in 2004. Following an old dream, the mountaineering legend wanted to try to cross the Gobi desert lengthways in his own way: completely on his own and without any logistical support. His 2,000-kilometer hike through the West Gobi and over the Altai Mountains becomes an unprecedented borderline experience for him, physically and mentally, and an act of self-determination with an uncertain outcome.
Taking its inspiration from this epic adventure, Montblanc has created the Geosphere Limited Edition 1858, the newest addition to its Montblanc 1858 collection, which continues the legacy of the original Minerva chronographs of the 1920s and 1930s. Reinterpreting historical timepieces inspired by the spirit of exploration, Montblanc 1858 watches are designed as tools, linking the past and the present through history, complications, and style.
Taking design cues from Messner’s many expeditions, Montblanc has created the new Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition 1858, which pays tribute to his five-week solo trek across the Gobi. Reproducing the rocky terrain colour scheme, the timepiece harmoniously combines a satin-finished bronze case with a special engraving on the case back, a bi-directional shiny brown ceramic bezel, a smoked brown and beige lacquered dial, and a matching vintage-brown Sfumato calf strap.
Perhaps the new watch’s most interesting feature is found on the case back, which boasts a unique engraving that shows the Gobi Desert’s famous Flaming Cliffs, also known as Bayanzag, that were on Messner’s route across Northern Asia. The cliffs are named for the red and orange colours of the sandstone, which light up like fire at sunset. The case back also depicts a wind rose compass with a decoration representing the wind that has been inspired by traditional Mongolian ornaments.
This engraving is more than just a pretty picture. Montblanc uses a very special technique to render the Gobi desert in three dimensions, providing depth and realism as if it was a photograph. Made of titanium, the metal must first be structured, before being engraved, finished and coloured using lasers.
Flip the watch over and you’ll see that special attention has been paid to the dial with its smoked brown to beige colour palette. A lacquered finishing combined with warm rose gold-coated hands and indexes is complemented by the use of beige-coloured Super-LumiNova, which is applied by hand.
The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Limited Edition 1858 is powered by the Manufacture automatic Calibre MB 29.25. This distinctive complication displays two hemispheres, offering an instinctive way to read different time zones. The timepiece has two domed turning hemisphere globes at six and 12 o’clock, which are surrounded by a fixed scale with the 24 time zones.
A rose gold-coated and brown day/night indicator (for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres) is joined by a longitude reference meridian for both hemispheres that is highlighted with a black line coated with Super-LumiNova, while a second time zone, used as a home time indication, is located at nine o’clock and a date aperture (linked to the local time) is located at three o’clock.
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