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An ancient glacier is the inspiration for Montblanc’s newest dive watch

The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date takes its design cues from the Mer de Glace

Watchmakers have often ventured to the extreme points of the world—and even outer space—just to get a bit of inspiration for their new designs and timepieces. From the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the surface of the moon, man has stopped at nothing to tell time in the most creative, unique, and aesthetically-pleasing way. 

Montblanc is no stranger to this tradition of passionate (dare we say mad?) creativity. For its new dive watch, the German brand didn’t go to the world’s tropical waters for inspiration, but rather climbed up to the glacial lakes of the Mont-Blanc Massif in the Alps. 

Ascending via the Chamonix Valley to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the Maison’s designers were captivated by the texture of the glacial ice with its interlocking network of crystals that have been frozen in time for millennia. 

The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date’s dial captures the texture of the Mer de Glace.
Photo: Montblanc

Not only did the house want to replicate glacial ice on their new watch’s dial, but they also wanted to capture the feeling of looking into the depth of a glacier—a formidable challenge, given that they intended to work with a dial measuring a mere 0.5 mm in height. It was something that had never been done before. 

It took a few tries before the Maison found a solution to create an impression of genuine depth and luminosity—an old technique called “gratté boisé.” Employing the technique meant taking more time polishing and finishing the dial, but the end result—as seen on the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea—is nothing short of sublime. 

An old technique called “gratté boisé” was used to apply texture to the dial.
Photo: Montblanc

Montblanc went as far as capturing the image and texture of the different colors of glacial ice: blue, green, and black. Blue ice can be found in the 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, which can be seen in the polar regions. 

This dial is encased in a 41mm stainless steel case with a bicolor ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel, which matches the shade of the Iced Sea’s respective dial. Keeping in line with the ice motif, the back of the case features a 3D relief engraving of an iceberg and a scuba diver exploring the glacial waters below—a gentle reminder that as cool as the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea looks, it also serves its purpose as a dive watch. 

The watch comes in black, blue, and green dials, which represent the colors you find on the ancient glacier.
Photo: Montblanc

Montblanc incorporated white Super-Luminova® on the hands, indexes, and the dot at 12 o’clock, which all glow in a luminescent shade in low light, keeping with the glacial theme and allowing divers to see time in darker conditions. It is also shock-, magnetic-, temperature-, and water-resistant to 300 meters, giving it more than enough capability to venture under the water. The timepiece is powered by an automatic movement and indicates the hours, minutes, seconds, with a date display at three o’clock. 

The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date has an interchangeable v-shaped stainless-steel bracelet which can be quickly and easily switched for a rubber strap—both resistant to salty water—without the need to return to the boutique or the use of any tools. Not only is the bracelet interchangeable, but it is also adjustable on the wrist, so each owner can find their perfect fit, especially when wearing it over a wetsuit. The stainless-steel bracelet also comes with an attractive taper of 20 – 16mm and is secured by a double deployant buckle. 

Green is one of the most popular dial colors at the moment, and the textured finish of the Iced Sea Automatic Date is a refreshing take on the motif.
Photo: Montblanc

In a previous interview with MANTLE, Montblanc’s Creative Director, Marco Tomasetta, remarked that they intend to engage new Montblanc customers with “bold and intentional designs.” The Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date seems to be a nod to that direction. 

And in a previously unpublished portion of the same interview, Mantle also asked if there would be more tie-ups across their accessory collections. 

“One of my priorities as Creative Director is to bring different product categories together under storytelling and creative themes. One of these themes is Glacier, an homage to the exceptional beauty of the glaciers and iced lakes that can be found in the massif of the Mont-Blanc,” Tomasetta had said.

“We have unified multiple pieces under this theme including a new 1858 Geosphere diving watch built for plunging into the icy waters under the surface of the ice with a magnificent ice dial, the Meisterstück Glacier collection of bags and accessories featuring the ice design and a pressure closure used in the world of climbing and mountaineering, as well as an assortment of our iconic Meisterstück writing instrument inspired by the glacier theme.”

Black is an old staple, though the “gratté boise” works in an entriely new dimension to the finish.
Photo: Montblanc

If you think the glacier theme goes well with this watch, then you’ll be happy to know there’s a whole range of accessories to go along with it. And if this is where Montblanc is headed in the future, then we are excited to see what extreme lengths Tomasetta and the brand will go to for new and fresh designs.