Gear Reviews

Montblanc Summit 2

The complications of aging suck. On Nov. 2, 2018, my new Google Pixel 3 XL slipped from my fingers as I pulled it from my shorts pocket and fell face down on the sidewalk. The screen shattered in a splay of ugly cracks, and for the first time in 21 years as a cellular device user, I dropped and damaged a phone. That day, because of unexpected, but necessary, number of family texts and busy work-related emails, I pulled out the Pixel 3 XL untypically often. While the unusual activity played its role, I also am more dropsy than in the past. Realization and concern, woven with fear about ruining another phone, brought me to make a difficult lifestyle concession: Wear a smartwatch.

In mid July 2018, related to my switch from Apple to Google platform products, I returned to using an analog watch—the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 7 Twin-Time, inspired by the one serving as important metaphor during Syfy series 12 Monkeys. I happily wore the handsome mechanical and couldn’t imagine swapping for digital wristwear. Refusing return to Apple Watch, even with recent release of Series 4 models, I looked to a Wear OS timepiece. Only one appealed: Montblanc Summit 2, for traditional styling; more typical watch size; overall quality of construction and materials; and early adoption of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip. 

Smartwatches tend to be overly large and/or clunky. Faces are either too wide or cases are too thick. Not Summit 2, which measures 42mm (diameter) by 22mm (width of crown) by 14.3mm (thickness) and weighs 63 grams (without strap). Overall size is comparable enough to my Carrera mechanical watch. Straps are standard 22mm and can be quickly released. Water resistance is 5 ATM (50 meters).

Tasteful and useful: Rotating crown and two programmable push buttons. The case is stainless steel, and the back is glass and fiberglass resin. Materials vary by model, and by my count Montblanc features nine. The local company boutique only had one of them available. The white face trim and Sapphire Blue strap are lively and appealing to me, but I might have chosen black trim and band if in stock. Maybe. What I got is pleasing eye candy. Yum.

The 1.2-inch full circle AMOLED screen is 390 x 390 resolution at 327 pixels per inch. It’s plenty bright and easily readable. There, Wear OS’s tasteful UI design and readable font(s) contribute much to the visual appeal and utility. Ambient mode (see Featured Image) is clearly visible, and with one of Montblanc’s 1858 faces displayed lets the Summit 2 masquerade as an analog watch. Flip the wrist to leave Ambient Mode; there is no annoying lag, BTW.

Memory is 1GB and storage capacity 8GB. Performance is fluid, with none of the lag problems that plagued older smartwatches running previous Wear OS versions (that I have used), such as Huawei Watch and LG Watch Urbane. Email, notifications, and texts all appear smoothly, and they immediately respond to touch interaction. Push of the crown brings up the installed apps. Longer push launches Google Assistant, which is amazingly responsive and useful. Apple should be ashamed of Siri, by contrast.

The 340 mAH battery is ample enough to get through a busy day of use. My only major complaint was shorter longevity during the first day or so, mainly because of app and OS updates. Recharging is wicked fast, typically less than an hour to 100 percent. A “Time Only” mode further extends battery life, but I haven’t used it and can’t attest to utility.

Sensors are: Accelerometer; Altimeter; Ambient Light; Gyroscope; Heart Rate. There is a microphone, too. Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2; GPS; NFC (for Google Pay); Wi-Fi N. The heart-rate sensor is accurate, and useful, as is the GPS.

Montblanc includes some extras that I like, and others that aren’t needed (for now). The company’s watch faces are excellent, for starters. Then there are three specialized apps: Timeshifter (for minimizing jet lag when changing time zones); Travel (with currency exchange and helpful local language phrases); and Running Coach (for fitness training).

Summit 2 is by far the best smartwatch I have worn to date. The thing looks great, feels fantastic on the wrist, and provides contextual utility. Much as I like the Montblanc, I won’t surrender my Carrera Calibre 7 Twin-Time. During the day, when I want to track activity and have glance-and-go access to communications, information, and notifications, I wear Summit 2. But by evening, I swap for my mechanical watch. 🙂

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I shot both photos on Dec. 27, 2018 using Leica Q, manually focusing. Vitals for the first: f/4, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, 28mm: 11:01 a.m. PST. The other is same but ISO 250 and 12:48 p.m.

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