Do you ever think about oxygen? The chances are you don’t really. I mean, under normal circumstances, you breathe the stuff subconsciously and automatically, and that’s it. But when you’re ascending the highest mountains on earth, oxygen is definitely on your mind. Or rather, the lack of it. The now-retired famous climber Reinhold Messner and the man who followed in his footsteps, Nimsdai Purja, managed to climb the world’s highest peaks without supplementary oxygen — something they thought long and hard about beforehand. Two new Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen watches in the 2023 collection also do without oxygen. And that is not just for show.

During Watches and Wonders 2023, two new Montblanc 1858 models caught my eye. Not just because of the design of the retro-inspired watches but also because of the technical concept. Both the 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen The 8000 Limited Edition 290 and its “little brother,” the 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen The 8000, feature a case totally devoid of oxygen. The 44mm Geosphere Chronograph is the more imposing one, while the smaller 42mm Geosphere is just a bit more restrained. The bigger limited-edition watch is linked to Nimsdai Purja, a Nepalese-born naturalized British mountaineer and a holder of multiple mountaineering world records. The smaller one has a connection to Reinhold Messner, an Italian mountaineering legend.

Montblanc 1858 0 Oxygen

Gasping for air with the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen The 8000 Limited Edition 290

Reciting the full name of the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen The 8000 Limited Edition 290 leaves you gasping for air. But hey, trying to breathe above 8,000 meters is also no mean feat. Still, climber and former Gurkha soldier Nimsdai Purja conquered 14 peaks above 8,000 meters without the use of supplementary oxygen — not something most mountaineers dare to do. Also, he did it in a record time of just six months and six days. Fast-climbing Purja wore a prototype 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen watch on his ascent of the world’s highest mountain, the 8,848.86m peak of Everest. And to mark that daring climb, Montblanc now launches the 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen The 8000 Limited Edition 290.

Montblanc 1858

No oxygen but several complications instead

The most original and striking feature of the watch with the breathtakingly long name is the 44mm titanium case, which is completely devoid of oxygen. Why did “MB” do this? Well, because the absence of oxygen is a great feature for explorers and mountaineers. No oxygen means it eliminates fogging and prevents the oxidization of important components. Thus, it prolongs the life of the movement and allows greater long-term precision. The protected movement, by the way, is the automatic caliber MB 29.27. That’s a chronograph movement with an in-house world timer module that shows two globes on the dial. There’s the Northern Hemisphere at 12 and the Southern Hemisphere at 6 o’clock. Also present are day/night indicators and a fluted bidirectional black ceramic bezel with cardinal points.

There are a few details that mark the limited-edition 0 Oxygen watch. The Northern Hemisphere, for instance, shows orange dots that mark the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 meters. On the front, the grayish dial with blue accents looks very icy and befits the weather conditions at 8km up. But it’s the back of the watch that’s even more remarkable and impressive. There you see an artistic rendition designed by Nimsdai Purja himself. You see the silhouette of the 14 mountains he climbed, plus the characteristic, 3D laser-engraved colorful flags. The price of the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen The 8000 Limited Edition 290 is US$9,800 / €9,400.

Montblanc 1858 0 Oxygen Watches

The non-limited 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen The 8000

Retired Italian climber, mountaineer, and adventurer Reinhold Messner was the first person to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen. He was also the first to climb all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters. His favorite mountain graces the case back of the non-limited 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen The 8000 (US$7,400 / €7,100). It’s a colorful and realistic 3D laser engraving of K2, the second-highest mountain in the world with a height of 8,611 meters. K2 is Messner’s favorite mountain for different reasons. One of them is that Messner plotted a route to the top called the “Magic Line,” one of the toughest technical climbs at altitude. Underneath the dial and behind the engraved mountain beats the automatic caliber MB 29.25.

In many ways, the 42mm 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen The 8000 is a smaller, less complicated version of the 44mm chronograph. It took has a smoky, dark gray dial with a glacier pattern and splashes of orange on the indicators. There’s also a fluted bidirectional black ceramic bezel with compass markers. But the whereas the “big brother” comes on a rugged black textile strap with a folding clasp, the 42mm watch is outfitted with an interchangeable titanium bracelet with a taper and fine-adjustment clasp system.

Montblanc 1858

Without a chronograph to compete with, the turning Northern and Southern Hemisphere globes, day/night indications, world time display, and date indicator have more room to shine. And they do, some even in the dark. The black ceramic bezel shows luminescent cardinal points, but Super-LumiNova also lights up the hands, indices, and globes on the dial.

Montblanc 1858 0 Oxygen

Let’s ask Laurent

During our discovery of the two 0 Oxygen watches, Laurent Lecamp, Montblanc’s director of the watch division dropped by. I asked about the performance of the retro-inspired and ever-expanding 1858 collection. This is his answer: “The retro-sporty 1858 collection is currently Montblanc’s best-performing watch collection. And there are many reasons for this. First, the most important is that customers today are looking for fun. They’re also looking for stories, looking for something that’s fun to talk about and easy to explain to their best friends. And that’s why we cannot just sell watches; we should sell a storytelling concept behind our watches.

Montblanc 1858 0 Oxygen

“Let me give you an example. We have in our collection the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date. That dive watch makes a ‘dolphin’ sound when you turn the bezel. When I started with the creation of a nice dolphin noise, everybody was laughing. They also said ‘Okay, it’s working, but we don’t really need it, blah, blah, blah.’ But in the end, I got feedback from some boutiques saying that the dolphin sound puts smiles on people’s faces when the staff demonstrates the watch.”

What do you think about Montblanc’s storytelling with mountaineering greats such as Reinhold Messner and Nimsdai Purja? And what are your thoughts about the 0 Oxygen innovation? Yes, you can also comment on a bezel that sounds like a dolphin. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, please.

For more information about the different Montblanc 1858 watches, including the Geosphere 0 Oxygen models, please visit the brand’s official website.

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