Montblanc Summit 2 Review: Is Smartwatch Style Worth $1,000?

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The Montblanc Summit 2 doesn’t offer any meaningful software features over a watch like the Fossil Sport, which costs around $740 less. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider this luxury watch. It’s made of premium materials, like durable sapphire glass to protect the screen and a stainless-steel case, and it carries the name of a long-standing brand. Better yet, the Summit 2 is a good smartwatch that can pass as a traditional timepiece. Is this the smartwatch to add to your collection?

A true classic

It’s easy to mistake the Montblanc Summit 2 for a normal watch. It’s a little thick, but everything else about it screams traditional (in a good way). The lugs curve down the wrist and there are no awkward gaps. The black stainless-steel feels quality and looks sleek, and we love the design of the crown. It’s also comfortable to wear.

The stainless-steel case has a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating, which should make it tougher and more resistant to scratches. We took the Summit 2 on a two-week trek in Japan, and accidentally smacked it into a wall and a rail. That left two tiny scratches on the case. They’re noticeable, and considering Montblanc told Digital Trends the watch should be durable due to the DLC coating, we expected stronger protection. The sapphire glass covering the display, on the other hand, is crystal clear of blemishes.

If you want better protection, Montblanc sells a titanium case for around $100 more. There are a variety of styles you can buy, ranging from the DLC black case, to a steel case, to a bicolor steel case. Our review unit came with a calfskin 22mm strap, but it’s interchangeable if you want to opt for one of Montblanc’s many other styles. The leather strap is easy to tighten and snap on, feels durable, and sits snugly on the wrist.

The Summit 2’s 1.2-inch AMOLED screen never feels too small.

You’ll find three buttons on the right edge of the 42mm watch. The stylish crown can rotate, which is a handy way to scroll through the watch. It scrolls smoothly, unlike the Skagen Falster 2’s crown, which doesn’t feel as fluid. The buttons flanking it are rigid but satisfying to press. You can customize what app or function you want to open with each.

The watch faces look good, though we’d like even more options than the ones pre-installed. Luckily, they’re all customizable, and there are plenty more in the Play Store you can install to find the look you want. When the watch faces go into ambient mode, they remain animated. The second hand, for example, keeps moving, so the watch looks alive when you’re not using it.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Montblanc Summit 2 has a dressy, business-professional look, but can be worn with any outfit, and even at the gym. It will always look good on your wrist — a massive improvement over last year’s original Summit — but we’re not as enamored with it as we are with Skagen’s Falster 2.

Montblanc Summit 2 Compared To

We do wish the Summit 2 was a little thinner. The Apple Watch Series 4 is 10.7mm thin and the Falster 2 is 11mm, whereas the Summit 2 tacks on a little more at 14.3mm. That’s a difference you’ll notice in day-to-day wear.

Great screen, good performance

The Montblanc Summit 2 has a 1.2-inch AMOLED screen that never feels too small. Watch faces are easy to read, and so are notifications. The screen looks sharp with 390 x 390 resolution, and black levels are so deep it’s difficult to tell where the bezel begins and ends. That helps color — when present — pop right off the screen. We never had issues seeing the screen in all kinds of lighting scenarios, even at level 2 brightness (5 is the brightest). It’s an excellent screen, and sapphire glass on top means it will be kept safe from scratches.

The Summit 2’s heart rate data compares nicely to what you’ll find in the Apple Watch Series 4.

It’s good news on the performance front, as well. The Summit 2 is one of the only Wear OS smartwatches that hasn’t shown any lag or stutter in day-to-day use. That’s likely because it’s powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor (with 1GB of RAM), though Qualcomm hasn’t mentioned any specific performance improvements the chipset brings. The new processor comes three years after its predecessor, the Wear 2100, and it highlights longer battery life and better fitness tracking.

Moving throughout Google’s Wear OS operating system feels fluid and responding to notifications or clearing them away is snappy. It’s not as speedy as Apple’s S4 chip in the Apple Watch Series 4, but we haven’t run into any problems. Even calling upon the Assistant (by hotword or by pressing the crown) is quick. These simple tasks took frustratingly long on the older Wear 2100 processor. The Summit 2’s adoption of the new hardware gives it a performance edge over all its competitors.

Montblanc Summit 2 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Wear OS does need to take a page out of Apple’s WatchOS is a “raise to wake” feature to trigger Google Assistant, as it would make us use Assistant a great deal more. But the software experience on the Summit 2 is solid, mostly thanks to the recent Wear OS redesign from Google. It makes watches simpler to use, with big, readable fonts.

Fitness, and special features

The Google Fit app in the Summit 2 is a swipe away from the watch face, and it helps keep track of basic fitness metrics. It can be used to track heart rate, but the watch uses a separate built-in heart rate app that bizarrely doesn’t sync to Google Fit. You need to open the Google Fit app to read your heart rate if you want it to sync with your Google account.

We compared the Summit 2’s heart rate data to the Apple Watch Series 4 and found the two watches produce similar results. Montblanc has also included a Workout Coach app, and it measures your VO2 Max to assign a fitness score. You can handily use the score to gauge your fitness level and see how it improves over time. Serious athletes may prefer a more fitness-focused watch like Garmin’s Fenix 5 series, but the Summit 2 is fine for casual workouts.

There are several other apps packed into the Summit 2 that boost versatility a little. One of our favorites is World Timer, which is an app that lets you use the rotating crown to scroll through the world map to see different time zones. It’s an easy and fast way to see what time it is back home from your wrist.

Travel Info is another app straight from Montblanc, and its usefulness varies on how much you prepared for your vacation. It offers up details about the country you’re in that may prove helpful if you’re visiting for the first time. This includes a few very basic words and phrases, a handful of “Do’s and Don’ts,” the weather, currency along with the exchange rate, and standard taxi fare.

Montblanc Summit 2 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

On a visit to Japan, we opened the app and perused through to find a tip saying there’s no tipping in Japan. We knew that already, but that could be useful for someone on a sudden business trip. Look in the “cuisine” section, though, and it only lists three dishes with no other explanation.

Then there’s Timeshifter, an app that aims to minimize jet lag. Timeshifter’s smartwatch debut is exclusive to the Summit 2, and it offers instructions on what to do to make the most out of long flights. However, you still need to download the app on your phone for it to work on the watch. It didn’t help us with our jet lag because the instructions, such as “See bright light,” weren’t clear.

The Montblanc Summit 2 has a 340mAh battery capacity that can easily get you through a day, even with the Always-on Display turned on.

NFC is on board as well, which means you can use Google Pay to make payments, and GPS support means you can use the watch to track runs (though you need to download a third-party app), or help navigate via Google Maps.

Day-long battery life

Most smartwatches can barely last a day (Samsung’s Galaxy Watch and the Apple Watch are the few exceptions). Most Wear OS smartwatches come with Always-on Display turned off, so the watch shows a blank screen when you’re not looking at it (this helps conserve battery life). However, the Montblanc Summit 2 has a 340mAh battery capacity that can easily get you through a day, even with the Always-on Display turned on. That’s something very few smartwatches can offer.

We’d often have a little under 40 percent left by 7:30 or 8 p.m., and that’s after interacting with notifications and monitoring heart rate. Throw a workout in and you may see the watch close to dying before the end of the day. What’s neat is you can trigger a “Time Only” mode to have the watch show only the time (without access to any smart features) which is especially handy on a flight. The watch can last about three to four days, which is perfect for moments when you don’t have the charger, or simply want the time but no notifications.

Montblanc Summit 2 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

What happens when you run out of juice in normal smartwatch mode? Time Only mode kicks in, so the watch doesn’t die immediately. It’s able to give you just the time for several hours or even close to a day, so you don’t have to look silly walking around with a dead watch. It’s immensely helpful when you can’t charge the watch, but still want to check your wrist for the time.

These handy Wear OS additions greatly improve the battery experience on smartwatches, though we still would love to see the Summit 2 last two to three days in full smartwatch mode (you’ll likely have to turn off the Always-on Display to get something close).

The included charger isn’t the quickest to snap onto the back of the watch, but it does charge it quickly. Our Summit 2 went from 10 percent to 80 percent in about 35 minutes.

Price, availability, and warranty information

The Montblanc Summit 2 starts at $995, but it can go up to $1,230 for the Milanese Edition. It’s available now from Montblanc’s website.

Montblanc offers a standard warranty for the Summit 2, which is protected from manufacturer defects for one year from the date of purchase.

Our Take

The Montblanc Summit 2 looks good, delivers strong performance, and can last a full day. It feels nice to wear, and it disguises itself well as a traditional smartwatch. It’s made of premium materials, but you’re also buying the watch for the Montblanc brand. If you’re in love with the design, are a fan of Montblanc, and aren’t worried about the price tag, you’ll be happy with the Summit 2.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, because you don’t need to pay $1,000 to get the features the Summit 2 provides. Your next best option if you’re looking at Wear OS smartwatches is the Fossil Sport. It also has the new Wear 3100 processor, but the design is sporty, so it may not work in formal settings. Still, it offers all the same features for just $255. More Wear OS smartwatches are coming in 2019 with the Wear 3100 processor, so waiting can’t hurt if you don’t need a smartwatch now.

If you have an iPhone, you should consider the Apple Watch Series 4. Wear OS smartwatches have some limitations on iOS, which is why the Apple Watch works best. It has great battery life, performance, excellent software, and plenty of heart-tracking features that can ensure a healthy lifestyle. It’s our favorite smartwatch overall.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch is another solid alternative. It doesn’t run Wear OS, but Samsung’s proprietary operating system, and it has stellar battery life of up to three to four days.

How long will it last?

The Summit 2 will likely last two to three years. It will get software updates for quite some time, but it’s the battery that may start to depreciate first. It has 5ATM water resistance rating, though, so it can be taken underwater for a swim up to 50 meters.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you’re in love with the Summit 2’s looks, and the price doesn’t give you hesitation, you’ll enjoy this smartwatch.

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