Montblanc is no stranger to tech-devices. In January 2015, they debuted the Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap that combined wearable technology with fine watchmaking. The e-Strap was really a kind of “have your cake and eat it” type gadget with integrated tech offering the basic connected watch functions – activity tracker, smart notifications, remote controls and Find-Me functions, strapped to a mechanical timepiece and the joy that comes with watching micro-mechanisms at play. Today, March 2017, the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch is the Swiss company’s first step into a larger of world of technology.
The first smartwatch from Montblanc and indeed, a first for the Richemont Group, the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch follows a line of Swiss concept smartwatches, underscoring the seriousness at which the industry is anticipating the threat of encroached market-share coming from this genre of time-keeping. Following TAG Heuer’s own Connected 45 announcement, the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch is the second such device to launch this week.
Introducing the New Montblanc Summit Smartwatch
Following design cues and aesthetic codes of the vintage, Minerva-inspired 1858 collection, the new 46mm Montblanc Summit Smartwatch might be called as such but the look and feel of 1858 resides in its steel and titanium editions; it’s a welcome change and a technical triumph given that it has neither the physical dial or hands of the Montblanc 1858, thus making the side-grade from its mechanical cousin to the digital version is not as daunting as it might seem.
Inside sits the Qualcomm® Snapdragon Wear 2100 with Android Wear 2.0, thankfully operable with both Android and iOS devices and more importantly, independently autonomous from either devices should you become separated from your smartphone. While I don’t expect utility apps like WorldTime, Uber or real-time translation apps (among the many other apps available from the Google Play store) to provide the joy of a Minerva calibre 16.29, I’ve begun to appreciate the utility of a discrete smartwatch.
A Mechanical Watch Lover’s Defence of the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch
When I travel to hostile (read: place with pickpockets/muggers) territory, I have a tendency to swap my usual retinue of timepieces for something wholly discrete and inconspicuous. To the owner, the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch wears the same panache and feel of the 1858 but to onlookers, it’s another smartwatch and there’s a kind of safety and freedom in that, allow me to elucidate.
In travelling around less than friendly, unfamiliar streets, the Google maps app on my phone is a valuable guide around the city. But in paying so much attention to the phone, I lose situational awareness to the people who might be following me or watching me. Thus, when people ask, what’s the point of using a tiny app on a tiny screen when I have the same app on my smartphone? This is the example I bring up. Walking the cobbled stones of Milan or Madrid, getting pickpocketed or accosted is a genuine probability (as opposed to around Singapore), walking back from dinner to my hotel, the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch would make it possible to dictate the name of the hotel, courtesy of Android Wear 2.0’s assistant and then navigate the mean streets safely and with full awareness of my surroundings.
You walk normally like a native, which alone already discourages would be bandits and with computer prompts, make the necessary left and right turns to get to your destination while expensive mechanical watch is safe at home and expensive smartphone is in pocket – To anyone observing you, they wouldn’t know you had an expensive phone and watch.
And then, there’s the discretion, early in previous article on another connected watch, early editions of the Apple Watch were a pain-in-the-proverbial behind because you couldn’t discretely activate the screen to take glances at time. The Montblanc Summit Smartwatch not only has discrete “ambient mode” watch face which dims but doesn’t completely shut off the display so that you can still read time but I also found that there was great potential in using the Summit Smartwatch to alert me to emails and calls rather than have to resist the urge of pulling the phone out of my pocket whenever it buzzed. In terms of functionality, the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch is additionally equipped with a heartrate monitor, gyroscope, compass, barometer and light sensor for power-saving auto-dimming.
Concluding Thoughts on the Summit Smartwatch
You’re not going to give up your day-to-day 1858 but where the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch excels is as a complementing accessory rather than a replacement, something Jerome Lambert, CEO of Montblanc also expressed when he found that the lack-of-functionality (and danger of damage) during active sports which made a mechanical watch impractical. The power reserve sits around 24 hours while not costing an arm and a leg.
There are four different material options are available for the Montblanc Summit: black PVD stainless steel, stainless steel with a black PVD bezel, stainless steel with a satin finish, and grade five titanium with a satin finish. Eight different strap options in a variety of colour and materials: black, blue, green, and red rubber NATOs, black calfskin, brown or navy blue Sfumato calfskin, and alligator. A myriad of different Montblanc watch-faces, all digital simulations of the popular mechanical versions, additional faces can be made and customised through the proprietary app.
The Montblanc Summit Smartwatch will be available from May 2017 through Mr. Porter at first, at Montblanc.com two weeks after alongside their boutiques and authorised retailers. At a price of SGD1390, it’s well priced below TAG Heuer’s Connected Modular 45 although still pricier than most other Android Wear watches on the market.
Also published on Medium.