Reviews: Wearables

Montblanc out to conquer the Summit of smartwatches

Montblanc's Summit is an exquisitely crafted timepiece with its "premium-ness" very evident the moment you strap it onto your wrist. Its 46mm-wide stainless-steel circular watch case feels as smooth as silk. The Summit is the first smartwatch to have
Montblanc's Summit is an exquisitely crafted timepiece with its "premium-ness" very evident the moment you strap it onto your wrist. Its 46mm-wide stainless-steel circular watch case feels as smooth as silk. PHOTO: MONTBLANC
Montblanc's Summit is an exquisitely crafted timepiece with its "premium-ness" very evident the moment you strap it onto your wrist. Its 46mm-wide stainless-steel circular watch case feels as smooth as silk. The Summit is the first smartwatch to have
The Summit is the first smartwatch to have a curved glass surface, according to Montblanc.PHOTO: MONTBLANC

Inspired by the 1858 Collection, it is a classic design with a modern technological upgrade

Montblanc, the German luxury brand of pens, jewellery and watches, has released its first smartwatch, the Summit.

Powered by Android Wear 2.0, the Summit is inspired by Montblanc's 1858 Collection analogue timepieces. In fact, you can hardly tell the difference between the Summit and the 1858 version if you place them side by side. The Summit has a classic design given a modern technological upgrade.

The Summit has different versions, one with a silver stainless-steel watch case, a black stainless-steel case, or a silver stainless-steel case with black bezel model, and a more premium titanium model. Each model comes with a charging cradle that sports the iconic Montblanc emblem.

There are also eight different straps, from calfskin leather ($150) to alligator ($375), to complement the four models.

I reviewed the model with a silver stainless-steel watch case and a red Nato strap (which cost a total of $1,400). The Nato strap ($165) might look like a fabric strap, but it is actually made of rubber. This makes it great for workouts and general rugged use.

Each Summit strap comes with quick-release spring bars for easy installation and removal, so you can use a different one each day to suit your mood.

The Summit is an exquisitely crafted timepiece with its "premium-ness" very evident the moment you strap it onto your wrist. Its 46mm-wide stainless-steel circular watch case feels as smooth as silk. A beautifully crafted crown with the Montblanc emblem is sited on its right.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,340 - $1,610

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WATER RESISTANCE: IP68

    WEIGHT: 105g (silver stainless-steel model with rubber Nato strap)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Its classic and timeless design means it will not look out of place even when you are attending a state dinner.

But its watch case is really quite large and easily takes over your entire wrist. Yet, despite the large watch case, it is rather thin at only 12.5mm thick.

When I wore the Summit, it felt lightweight and really comfortable. Its slight rear bulge, due to the heart-rate monitor, did not cause any discomfort.

The watch's 1.39-inch (400 x 400 pixels) Amoled touchscreen circular display has a slightly curved sapphire glass surface. This is the first smartwatch to have a curved glass surface, according to Montblanc.

The display looks really sharp, with intricate details evident. Instagram notifications show pictures in their full glory, for instance.

Official Montblanc watch faces take after their analogue cousins and make the watch look like a timepiece more than a smartwatch. Your friends will be fooled into thinking you are wearing an analogue watch.

Furthermore, these watch faces have an always-on function. They will show a black-and-white watch face when idle.

However, it is a shame that the crown is not rotatable and serves only as the home button. With the new circular user interface (UI) of Android Wear 2.0, a rotatable crown would have been perfect to navigate the new UI.

In addition, there is no built-in GPS. Considering that the Summit has a large case, it would have been easy to include a GPS module. So when you go for outdoor runs or walks, it uses your smartphone's GPS to calculate distance.

Using the Google Fit app on the Summit - paired to my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 - for my usual 5km runs, I found the distance tracked to be only slightly longer - around 200m at most - than my calibrated Apple Watch Nike+.

But, for daily steps tracking, the Summit registered up to 11 per cent less than the steps tracked on the Apple Watch Nike+.

However, the Summit's heart- rate-monitor readings differed only by two to three beats per minute, compared with the Apple Watch Nike+.

The watch has no Near Field Communications (NFC). So, this means you cannot use it for Android Pay, which requires an Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch with NFC to work.

The Summit's water resistance is rated at only IP68, meaning you can wash your hands with it but not swim or shower with it.

Battery life is average for a smartwatch. When paired with my Note 5 with notifications turned on, I found that it was left with around 50 per cent battery power by the time I went to bed. You might want to charge it every night.

• Verdict: If you are looking for an exquisite smartwatch that looks like an analogue timepiece, the Montblanc Summit is one to consider.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'Montblanc out to conquer the Summit of smartwatches'. Print Edition | Subscribe