The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Collection has always found inspiration in nature, especially those undiscovered territories that fuel the imagination of today’s intrepid explorers. One such place is the South Pole on the Antarctic continent, located at the Earth’s southernmost point. This featureless icy plateau sits at an altitude of 2,835 m and has a desert-like climate with hardly any precipitation and zero humidity. This sounds almost pleasant, but make no mistake, the weather here is not kind with strong winds that can carry snow over the entire region and temperatures that can plunge to -65oC, making it one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.
The Ultimate Explorer
Montblanc’s Mark-Maker Reinhold Messner made history in 1990 when he and explorer Arved Fuchs were the first men to cross Antarctica on foot with neither animal nor motorized support, covering a distance of 2,800 km, gradually climbing more than 3,000 m, while also pulling a sled weighing over 100 kg, few navigation instruments such as a compass to guide them. Tales of such extreme adventures to this wildly beautiful, yet uninviting place provide the inspiration for this new Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition 1990 whose sfumato dial captures the iced blue tones of the icebergs and the layered glacial patterns of the Antarctic polar ice.
Leaving a Mark
On December 13th 2023, Montblanc will join Simon Messner in this unforgiving glacial landscape as he takes part in the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Born in 1990, the year that his father – mountaineer Reinhold Messner – crossed the South Pole, the accomplished athlete will attempt this test of wilderness with a Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition on his wrist.
Setting off just a few hundred miles from the South Pole, at the foot of Ellsworth mountains, and at an altitude of 700 meters, the conditions underfoot will consist of snow and ice with temperatures hovering around the -20oC mark. And if that isn’t challenging enough, strong katabatic winds are known to sweep across the area.
More About Simon Messner
Simon Messner studied molecular biology and is a passionate alpinist. He discovered his own passion for the mountains at the age of 15 in the classic rock and ice routes of the Dolomites. To date, Simon has climbed many rock and ice routes and has made first ascents in Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, the Alps, and on his home mountains, the Dolomites. The style, i.e. how a route is opened, plays just as important a role for Simon as the climbing itself. For him, the mountains are first and foremost a space of experience that must be preserved
Why Glacial Ice Blue?
Glacial ice is different from regular white ice as its age, density and weight have expelled almost all of the air bubbles inside, meaning that it can absorb almost every color in the spectrum. The color blue is refracted thanks to this absence of oxygen. It is this blue tone that has been highlighted on the dial of the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition, with an iced blue bi-directional anodized aluminum bezel with a luminescent cardinal point and a matching-colored dial that features Montblanc’s special glacier motif, giving the impression of starring directly into the ice.
A Dial Frozen in Time
This special dial technique has been designed to bring an impression of genuine depth and luminosity to the dial. The dial makers start by volume stamping the dial to create the iced pattern and then employ a special technique called gratté boisé as the base. Each layer is printed, lacquered, polished, and left overnight to dry before the next layer can be applied. This time- consuming technique takes four times longer than a standard dial to complete and requires over 30 separate steps.
Captured in the Ice
This icy theme continues with a 42mm ultralight titanium case and interchangeable tapered bracelet that comes with a fine adjustment system and a new full-satinated finish. The timepiece also comes with an additional interchangeable grey textile strap with a rope pattern.
It is not just the glacial ice that is devoid of air, the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration Limited Edition 1990 joins Montblanc’s series of “Zero Oxygen” timepieces that feature several benefits.
Explorers like Reinold Messner need their equipment to work in challenging environments. Zero oxygen inside the case not only eliminates fogging, which can occur with drastic temperature changes at altitude, but also prevents oxidization. Without oxygen, all the components last far longer and will provide unfaltering precision over time.
A Worldtime Complication
The timepiece is powered by the Caliber MB 29.25, featuring an automatic movement with Montblanc’s Manufacture Worldtime complication with approx. 42 hours of power reserve. Like with all 1858 Geosphere models, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres are represented by two three-dimensional globes that turn anti-clockwise and include a day and night indication so that the wearer can see what time it is across the Earth at a simple glance. A keen eye will also notice that Montblanc has added Messner’s route across the South Pole on the Antarctic continent as a nod to its legendary Mark-Maker’s expedition. There is also a date at three o’clock and a dual time indication at nine o’clock.
Aurora Australis Caseback
To celebrate the full beauty of the South Pole, Montblanc has also added an engraving of the Aurora Australis on the caseback over Antarctica’s Paradise Bay, famous for its emperor penguins and whale spotting points, as well as for being one of the coldest and windiest places on Earth.
The Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, is a spectral show of ribbons of colored light that dance in the night sky. This natural phenomenon is caused when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with gas particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the gases to emit light. Wavelengths determine the color of the lights with oxygen releasing a red or greenish yellow hue and nitrogen emitting blue light.
These Aurora Australis can also be seen on the dial at night with blue luminescence lighting up the continents and the dual time hand, while green luminescence highlights the hour and minute hands, the numerals and indexes, and the cardinal points.