You probably appreciate all things mechanical, in which case you’ll love the view through the sapphire crystal case back of Montblanc’s limited edition 1858 Split Second Chronograph in Lime Gold as much as the way it looks from the front. This decidedly distinctive watch was a parting shot from Morgan-driving car enthusiast Davide Cerrato, who proved himself to be one of the most imaginative designers in the business during five years as the boss of Montblanc’s horological division before he stepped down from the job in January.
The unusual hue of the case is the result of combining 18-carat gold with small but specific quantities of silver and iron to produce that distinctive greenish tinge.
Cerrato has perfectly matched the colour with a golden dial featuring outer telemetric markings and a snail-shaped tachymeter scale, resulting in a retro military look that’s united through just the right amount of green detailing.
But it’s only when the watch is turned over that its full story begins to unfold. That ‘engine’ is from Montblanc’s Minerva manufacture, which aficionados will know for being synonymous with some of the most beautifully finished movements of the 20th century.
Until 15 years ago the only way to own a Minerva was to buy a vintage one, but after Richemont acquired the tiny factory in 2006 and handed it over to Montblanc to give it instant ‘manufacture’ status (and the credibility that goes with it), the brand launched its 1858 line of watches driven by a series of magnificent Minerva-made movements.
Named after the year of Minerva’s founding, all Montblanc 1858 watches are hand-wound and finished to exceptional levels of detail –a labour of love that, in this case, amounts to a 287-part split-second mechanism that enables the elapsed timing of two events that start, but don’t end, simultaneously (such as two cars that finish a race in first and second place).
While the impressive watch is said to be a reinterpretation of a 46mm 1930s military chronograph, the case has been downsized to a more day-to-day practical 44mm and fitted with a green nubuck strap that nicely completes what is undoubtedly one of the best-looking watches to have emerged so far this year.
There are, however, two not insignificant downsides (besides the price tag). One is that a mere 18 will be made, and the other is that the Montblanc name still lacks serious horological clout despite the fact that few other watches are better finished, have greater mechanical integrity or, in our opinion, look so damnably good.
Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Limited Edition, £44,500
Zenith demonstrated perfect timing with its Defy Extreme, an extra-tough version of its Defy sports watch, just as Extreme E launched. Zenith is the official timing partner of the electric off-road race series, which began in Saudi Arabia on April 3. The winner of each round will receive a Defy Extreme watch, described as having a titanium case that is “faceted and carved like a boulder in a storm”. The 45mm chronograph has the El Primero 9004 movement that can record elapsed times down to 1/100th sec.
Zenith Defy Extreme, from £15,300
Britain’s legendary motorcycle racer Carl Fogarty has partnered with Forzo to create a collection of Foggy models, which were unveiled by the four-time World Superbike champion and triple Isle of Man TT winner via a Kickstarter launch on Facebook Live. The watches commemorate Foggy’s 123mph lap at the 1992 TT. This year, the red-faced Foggy Chronograph will be the first available. All will be engraved with the star’s signature and limited to 123 pieces.
Forzo Carl Fogarty 123 MPH, from £500