The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen has been to the South Pole. Well, not exactly, but it’s been close. The wristwatch traveled to Antarctica with the brand’s mountaineering ambassador Simon Messner and Montblanc’s Managing Director, Laurent Lecamp. The duo wore the watch during the 18th annual Antarctic Ice Marathon in December 2023.
I’m not even going to begin to tell you to buy a $7,800 automatic wristwatch to run a marathon. There are way better choices for sport-oriented watches.
But I still found the feat (and stunt) of wearing a beautiful, complex watch through bone-chilling temperatures of -30 degrees C for 26.2 miles intriguing.
The duo finished in seventh place, running the race in 4 hours and 29 seconds. I imagine they worked up a good sweat under all those parkas and gave the unique timepiece a rather authentic thrashing along the way.
Montblanc, pointing this watch squarely at the well-heeled explorer crowd, reached out to offer me a loaner of the 1858 Geosphere for a couple of weeks. My interest was piqued, and I had to say yes. I wore it regularly for a couple of weeks and even took it on a few trail runs. Here are my impressions.
In short: The Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Expedition Limited Edition is an eye-catching, unique version of a world-timer with a complicated automatic movement. On the striking face, two globes represent the northern and southern hemispheres, which turn to reveal the time anywhere on Earth. However, you’ll need good eyes to read these small globes. The case is completely devoid of oxygen, which the brand claims eliminates fogging and prevents oxidization. It’s a neat watch that comes with a luxury price tag. Montblanc made just 1,990 of this limited run.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen South Pole Exploration
- Reference number MB130961
- Case size 42mm
- Lug size 20mm
- Case material Titanium
- Movement Caliber MB 29.25
- Strap color Stainless steel
- Water resistance 100m
- Unique world timer
- Rotating compass bezel
- Striking color and design
- Difficult to read world time
- Luxury price tag
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen: Trail Running With Bling
The sun was just rising behind Green Mountain in Denver as I plowed up the hill, my dog tugging gently on her Ruffwear harness in front of me. We crested the ridge and I stopped for a moment to appreciate the sunlight meeting the pale brown hills of mid-winter on the high plains.
I tugged down my jacket cuff to reveal the 1858 Geosphere, which suddenly glinted icy blue in the sunshine. With sweat under my coat, the crystal remained clear. Two globes showed times around the planet as I considered how much further to push into the morning.
I still had a couple of hours until most of North America would rise; time for a few more miles.
Before I get into the details of the watch, here are my thoughts on it as a true adventure piece. While this watch should have a place at the table of wealthy explorers discussing the exploits of their youth over tumblers of whiskey, it’s not exactly field gear.
Sure, it can tell accurate time and is relatively robust. But to me, you have to be a little nuts to wear a $7,000 watch while doing anything that is likely to break said $7,000 watch.
That said, I did put it at a bit of peril during my trail run. Fortunately, I didn’t fall. The watch was reasonably comfortable under my running jacket. But it’s also a lot bigger and heavier than almost all the field watches I’ve tested. And it’s no match for even the most basic GPS watches, which have a vastly more robust set of tools.
But still, I enjoyed the 1858 Geosphere, even on a trail run. With the bracelet adjusted to my wrist size, it was comfortable and light enough not to bother me or my arm swing. And when I had the chance to reveal it while checking the time, its beautiful glow reminded me that I was wearing something quite special.
Montblanc Explorer’s Watch: A Unique Timepiece
The 1858 Geosphere is really a pretty timepiece. Its dual globes, second time zone, and blue dial scream refinement. But they certainly also nod toward the adventurous roots of the watch.
It’s worth noting that Montblanc makes several iterations of the Geosphere. They’re a compelling expression of time as the rotating spheres represent Earth’s location relative to the sun.
For horology buffs, it’s quite inspiring and triggers a deep ponderance of the concept of time. But for daily use, I must admit it’s not that practical. If you’re anywhere over 40 years old, you can plan to use some reading glasses to use the world timer.
I found myself having to squint to read the time on the globes. The script is very small, though usable, as long as it’s not at a quick glance.
The main dial, however, is quite easy to read. Numerals at 2, 4, 8, and 10 stand out in crisp, three-dimensional script outlined in silver. Hashmarks indicate 1, 5, 7, 9, and 11. Meanwhile, 12, 6, and 3 get no marking as these spaces are earmarked for globes and a date window.
Between the center and 9 o’clock, a small dial provides a dedicated hour hand in another time zone. There’s no minute hand on this tiny clock, although it’s legible enough to give the hour, which you can easily cross-reference with the main clock to get a real-world time.
Users can set this secondary time zone with a small push tool that I did not receive with the loan, so I didn’t reset it. But it seems functional and legible enough to give you a fast calculation for travelers who want a quick reference of their home time zone, for example.
Montblanc rates the 1858 Geosphere as water-resistant to 100 m. If that’s accurate, it should be fine for anything an explorer will put it through. However, I do worry that it does not have a screw-down crown. I’d hate to see water intrusion in a watch that’s taken the effort to remove even oxygen from the inside of its case.
On the face, Montblanc added a bidirectional rotating bezel, which is a cool addition that speaks to the adventurous nature of the watch. That’s because you can use it as a rudimentary compass with the relationship of the hour hand and the sun. Sure, you can do this with any wristwatch, but having the compass dial visible and useful is a nice touch.
As for the namesake callout, the “0 Oxygen” feature is certainly intriguing, though I have no reliable way of validating it. The watch indeed never fogged up, but then again, no watch should.
Finally, the back of the case is pretty, with a colorful 3D engraving of the Aurora Australis and names of the Seven Summits adorning it.
Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen: A Handsome, Meaningful Jewel
I enjoyed the opportunity to wear the 1858 Geosphere. It is clearly a beautiful watch that is finely finished and meets high standards of excellence.
Among the market, it yearns for a coveted spot among luxury wristwatches. It aims to outshine those like the iconic Rolex Explorer or the lesser-known Norquain Neverest, both of which have origin stories related to the outdoors and wild places.
The reality is that luxury watches aren’t exactly the best for use in the outdoors. Not really. In the modern world, there are much better, cheaper ways to tell time (and altitude, heart rate, recovery time, blood oxygen, and on and on). But here, that’s not the point.
This is the watch you’ll wear when you tell the stories about the adventure. It’s a beautiful, functional bit of bling that tells a little something about its wearer. And it might open the door for them to tell a few stories of their own.
And when it comes to high-end wristwatches, that seems like a compelling reason to own one if you can pay the price of admission.