This year, Montblanc revisited another jewel from the Minerva Patrimony, with the 1858 Minerva Monopusher Chronograph Red Arrow.
Here is the original chronograph, issued in the very late Thirties. Credit picture: Christies.
It was a giant chronograph for that era, with a 46 mm case, housing a not-less giant movement, the Cal 19-9 CH, 19 Lines ( 42, 15 mm diameter ) beating at 18, 000 vibrations per hour.
With the new " Red Arrow ", the spirit of the vintage has been faithfully respected, but in smaller dimensions.
Indeed, we have here a 42 mm steel case, with almost the same lugs which are now generously beveled, a white gold fluted rotating bezel with the famous red arrow which allows measuring elapsed time or which can also be used as a countdown.
At 2 o' clock, you will find the monopusher, oval shaped, like in the vintage.
The crown is differently shaped, though. While the vintage had an onion shaped one, the new Red Arrow is more conventional.
The dial of the new Red Arrow is very close to the original, too. Ok, you will immediately notice that it is not signed Minerva but Montblanc, but you have the emblem of Minerva, the circled arrow, in the small seconds subdial, and now, the dial is black opaline while it was matte in the original. But the hour markers, the snail shaped Tachymeter, the Telemeter and even the hands are very close to the ancestor.
As for the movement, the Cal 13.21, it is much less gigantic than the 19.9 CH, or than the modern brother the 16.29, with a diameter of 29, 5 mm ( 6, 49 mm high ), which will be housed in smaller cases, generally 40 mm.
When you look at the vintage Minerva movements I posted above and that you compare them to the Cal 13.21, you immediately notice the " air de famille " between them, but in much better finished, with some superb anglages, and this " Devil's Tail " which in Horology is called chronograph stop lever.
The 13.21 beats at the pace of 18, 000 vibrations per hour, is made of 239 components, and offers a power reserve of 60 hours;
The Cal 13.21 in all its beauty:
A movement which you can see through the case back here:
And a case back which clearly states that this Red Arrow is an homage to the vintage shown above!
My personal thoughts on this Red Arrow:
I will say it straight: For me, it is one of the best 8 watches I have seen at Watches and Wonders, this year.
In an era where nice watches are outrageously priced, for a bit more than 30, 000 euros, you have a champion, in terms of charm, beauty, soul and exquisite horology. I wish you good luck in finding a better finished movement for that level of price!
One thing I regret, though, is the shape of the crown. I find that an onion shaped one would have been more sensuous, more in harmony with the shape of the chronograph pusher. But it is not a deal breaker.
The fact that it is limited to 88 pieces doesn't disturb me. Most of the 1858 Tachymeter are limited to 100 pieces, so that doesn't make a big difference.
A last detail which intrigued me is the case size. A 40 mm case would have been more consistent with the smaller Cal 13.21, rather than 42 mm... Yes, true, but... The Red Arrow was a big chronograph, so giving it 2 extra millimeters makes sense, too.
This is a version I highly recommend and consider for myself, too, as I already own a 16.29 and would be delighted to add a 13.21. And this one is simply irresistible!
Looking forward to reading your comments and thoughts,