Have you ever wondered what a frozen dial would look like? Well, wonder no more, because the new-for-2022 Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date brings that aesthetic in not one or two, but three colorways. This watch is nspired not by tropical waters but rather by the glacial lakes of the Mont-Blanc Massif and the texture of glacial ice — let’s take an icy dive into the details.
The case of the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea watch is in stainless steel on all iterations and measures 41mm in diameter and 12.9mm in thickness. That’s by no means unwearably thick, but it’s destined to have noticeable heft, which is offset by the 300-meter water-resistance rating, should you feel inclined to dive hundreds of meters down into freezing cold waters. For us desk divers, that’s just cool to have.
Likewise, the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea watch is a “certified diving timing instrument,” according to the brand, conforming to the ISO 6425 norm. All that, plus each piece is subjected to the Montblanc Laboratory 500 Hour Test that assesses resistance to shocks, magnetism, temperature, and water pressure and “that their fasteners are reinforced for maximum security.” The hands and indices are all covered with white Super-LumiNova.
Three shades for three types of ice is the theme, as the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea watch comes in blue, green, and black. Blue ice can be found in Mont-Blanc’s Sea of Ice and is created by the inclusion of air bubbles in the ice, while green ice is found in Antarctica and is the result of the presence of microscopic snow algae blooms. Black ice occurs when the ice has no inclusions or air bubbles, therefore absorbing enough light to appear black. It can also be turned black by deposits of volcanic ash in its structure; examples of which can be seen in the polar regions. So, now you can match your next luxury watch to your favorite type of ice.
Montblanc, which refers to itself as a Maison, as does basically every one of the Richemont group’s watchmakers, says it had to go through several trials before finding a technical solution to create an impression of depth and luminosity reminiscent of that of ice: “The dial makers employed an almost-forgotten ancestral technique called gratté boisé as the base.” If you Google that, you’ll soon end up in a publication by Ferdinand Berthoud – so yeah, seems pretty ancestral to me. Montblanc admirably managed to maintain its focus on legibility: The indices and indeed the cathedral-style hour and minute hands are huge and appear to contrast in finish and texture neatly against the colored backdrop – all essential to achieving real-world legibility.
The bezel is in ceramic and is neatly color-matched to the dial. Does anyone remember the day when colored ceramics were basically unimaginable and all-ceramic watch parts came in were white, black, and maybe some chrome-y gray? Well, gone are those days, thankfully, so now you can enjoy fade- and scratch-proof ceramic in highly saturated blues and greens. There is a stainless steel bracelet in “charcoal” and regular steel, each with a taper that goes from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp and each with a quick-adjust system built in. Alternatively, each model can be purchased on a rubber strap.
The only bottleneck with the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea watch is its MB 24.17 movement, which is basically a Sellita SW200. Its 41-hour power reserve is basically the shortest in this segment, and although that is matched with self-winding and a modern 4 Hertz frequency, 41 hours really is just not long enough for anything other than a daily wearer. Weekend-lasting power reserves (i.e. those at least 3 days long) can’t arrive soon enough for more watches in this admittedly highly competitive segment.