Montblanc Summit 2 review

A luxury Wear OS smartwatch with travel skills
Montblanc Summit 2

The original Montblanc Summit was a bit of a disappointment. The Wear OS-packing smartwatch looked good, but it didn't have that extravagant look you'd expect from a company noted for its design. It also was pretty basic on the features front too and a pretty no-frills experience on the whole.

The Montblanc Summit 2 aims to up the ante in every area, including introducing a more alluring look and a bunch more features. It's also one of the first smartwatches to run on Qualcomm's new Snapdragon Wear 3100 chip, which aims to make performance improvements across the board including battery life.

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Unsurprisingly though this is one smartwatch that doesn't come cheap. You'll have to part with $995 to get one onto your wrist. That's putting it in the same pricing realms as Tag Heuer's watches although it's not quite as pricey as Louis Vuitton's Tambour Horizon.

Is it worth the extra spend over a more sensibly priced smartwatch? We've been living with the Summit 2 to find out. Here's our full verdict.

Montblanc Summit 2: Design

Montblanc Summit 2 first look: A luxury Wear OS smartwatch with fitness skills

The Summit 2 eschews the bland design of the original for something a little more inspired. Specifically, it's inspired by Montblanc's 1858 collection. And boy, this makes for one gorgeous smartwatch.

This smartwatch has an elegant look about it. It's not as minimalist as the original, and it comes across as having some confidence. This is a watch that, when it's on your wrist, makes you feel good about yourself.

In fact, it looks so good that I had people surprised that it was a smartwatch. My dad even yelled out "that's a smartwatch?" when I told him about it. A lot of that is because the Summit 2 accomplishes something that other smartwatches struggle with: The display often gives away that it's a smartwatch.

Montblanc Summit 2 first look: A luxury Wear OS smartwatch with fitness skills

The 1.2-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED display is crisp, and Montblanc's original watch faces complement its hardware design perfectly. All of this makes the Summit 2 easy to wear. It passes the sleeve test nicely, so you won't have to worry about wearing this with a suit.

In addition to the display, you've got three buttons on the right side. There's an elegant crown that spins and also has a button on the edge. The crown is a little extra compared to the rest of the design, but it works. It gives the rest of the smartwatch a nice pop.

The other two buttons are used to pull up apps of your choice, but they're just OK. While the crown is satisfying, these buttons are not. They're pretty squishy, and you can't even tell if you've pressed them.

Despite that, the Summit 2 is one of the best designed smartwatches we've tested. It's fun to look at, it's fun to wear and it definitely is a fashion piece. You can use this to complement your outfit.

Montblanc Summit 2: Wear OS

Montblanc Summit 2 first look: A luxury Wear OS smartwatch with fitness skills

The original Summit lacked features that would have allowed it to stand out in a crowded luxury smartwatch market. Montblanc does not repeat this mistake with the Summit 2, which has a lot more going on on the smarts front.

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It still runs on Google's Wear OS giving you all the usual suspects from notifications, Google Assistant support, the ability to download apps directly from the watch and customisable watch faces. On the Wear front, it's all pretty normal here. As we've said in other reviews recently, Wear is improving, but there's still room for improvement.

Montblanc does throw in some of its own software into the mix to make it the Summit 2 feel more like using a Montblanc watch as opposed to just another Wear smartwatch.

Up front, we've got a number of watch faces created by Montblanc. All of these are pretty good, and it's hard not to swap between them based on your mood. 1858 is the natural choice, as it's intended for the design, but my favorite was the Boheme Classic. There are a total of 10 to choose from, including two based around fitness - the Activity and Workout Coach faces.

The Timeshifter face is the most unique, and that's because it's built for Timeshifter. This is an app built for frequent world travelers, and it's there to help you get rid of your jet lag. It'll create a jet lag plan for you and then recommend things to do to stay awake and refresh.

For instance, it can recommend whether you need to look at some light, or whether it might be a good idea for a nap, or whether now is a great time for a coffee break or a dose of melatonin. It's also not binary with any of this stuff. It won't just tell you whether you should nap or not, it'll tell you whether you should nap or whether you can nap if you can. There's a slight vagueness there that gives you some options.

There are a number of other Montblanc apps here, too, including a stopwatch, a timer and something called Travel Info. This essentially is a travel guide on your wrist. It gives you information like what the customary tip is, some phrases, basic country info, do's and dont's, cuisine and how the taxi fare works.

It's a wealth of information, and it's all presented well enough that you could give it a quick five-minute glance while waiting for your airplane to de-board. All of this goes well beyond another luxury travel watch, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon.

Montblanc Summit 2: Fitness

Montblanc Summit 2 first look: A luxury Wear OS smartwatch with fitness skills

The Summit 2 really seems to be a luxury watch first, but that doesn't mean it's holding back when it comes to fitness features. You've got a heart rate sensor on board as well as GPS and 5ATM water resistance.

That experience, however, is a pretty sad miss. Heart rate, when put up against a Wahoo Tickr chest strap, was a pretty solid miss. It largely kept up with the trends of my run, but it struggled mightily in doing so.

The Tickr had my average heart rate at 165bpm, while the Summit 2 with Strava clocked me in at 142bpm. The Tickr had my high at 187bpm, while the Summit 2 had me at 178bpm. While the high wasn't too far off, the average being 23 beats off is concerning.

These fitness problems persisted elsewhere, too. The Summit 2 comes with a fitness app called Workout Coach, which is supposed to give you your VO2 Max and recommend a workout plan for you to get more fit. It recommends 20 minutes of either running or brisk walking to get it going, but it failed to work for me after multiple 20 minute sessions - walking and running. It just kept saying that not enough data was recorded.

Montblanc Summit 2 review

Summit 2 HR via Strava on left, Wahoo Tickr on right

Similarly, GPS would not connect when going up against a Garmin Fenix 5 for a GPS test. Connected GPS worked fine, but solo GPS never found a connection in multiple environments.

It's worth noting that Workout Coach did save my fitness sessions, and it seemed to do a good job of keeping up with the Tickr live during the run, but there's no way to export that data to your smartwatch to take a better look at it. All of it lives on your watch. That's fine, but sometimes I want to sit back and look at my workout data on a bigger screen like my phone - you can't do that here.

So yeah, fitness is a pretty big whiff on the Summit 2. It's all a bit of a shame because Montblanc clearly put in the work to do things as best as they could, but it didn't seem to work out the way they wanted. The Summit 2 can still be your workout companion - for the most part - but don't expect anything great until Montblanc goes back and adjusts its software a bit more.

Montblanc Summit 2: Battery life

Montblanc Summit 2 first look: A luxury Wear OS smartwatch with fitness skills

Montblanc promises about a day and a half of battery life here, and that was pretty easily attained by me during my roughly two and a half weeks with the device. This thing is not going to give you any trouble if you forget to charge it overnight - especially if you decide to turn off continuous heart-rate monitoring.

There's also a battery save mode that turns your smartwatch into a dumb watch. It'll just show a Montblanc watch face and cut off access to the rest of your smartwatch's features. It's a handy feature if you're running low on juice, and it can give you up to a week of battery life, but it's clearly something to get you out of a battery emergency, not something to rely on in place of a hybrid smartwatch.


Montblanc Summit 2
By Montblanc
The Summit 2 is an excellent smartwatch in many respects. The design is exquisite and it's fun to wear. It's also got some unique features that actually can help you, like Travel Info and Timeshifter, but the fitness story here is a bit of a mess. GPS doesn't seem to work and the heart rate sensor isn't the most reliable in the world. If you're looking to the Summit 2 for fitness, you're looking in the wrong place. If you want a brilliant looking watch with some features for your jetsetting lifestyle though, this is it.

Hit
  • Design - this is gorgeous
  • Travel Info
  • Timeshifter
Miss
  • Expensive
  • GPS doesn't work
  • Heart rate is off


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6 comments

  • Gadgety·

    Hopefully you get one for a long time review once the 15 hour GPS-sport mode app is available to test the, rather puny, 340mAh battery autonomy. Oddly nothing about autonomy is mentioned on Montblanc's own website except the 7 day watch only mode. You state 1.5 days, in other places I've seen 1 day for the Summit 2. Finally, one thing I really like about smartwatches is they can look dressy, and still have full sport features, and this one does look very nice. Unfortunately the Summit 2 still requires a loading puck while my next watch will have to have wireless charging.

  • paulrousseau·

    Can you please be clear when writing about smartwatches whether or not they are capable to make and receive phone calls. This is an essential functionality for me and many of your readers. It allows to pick up when receiving a phone call right from your watch and have the phone call via the watch. This does not mean that the watch needs to have an LTE functionality as it can be done over Bluetooth (and I think wifi for the Apple Watch). This comes in handy when your smartphone is somewhere else in the house for example. Or in case of elderly people, being able to initiate a call from the watch could be a life saver. Watches like the Apple watch and the Samsung Galaxy watch have this functionality.

    So does this watch supports making and receiving calls?

    • pocholin·

      Quick answer to your question is no.

      While the watch notifies you of an incoming call and lets you answer it or decline it from the watch, you cannot have a (bluetooth) conversation in the watch like you do on a Samsung Gear (which I have as well).

  • pocholin·

    I have owned this watch for about 10 days, I also have Samsung Gear S3 (non-LTE), which is a great watch. There are some mixed feelings with this watch as I got used to the S3's built-in speaker (although I hardly ever used it). Other than the speaker and a little less battery life, Montblanc is a great solid watch IMO. S3's screen is slightly brighter under direct sunlight but the Summit 2 is still clearly visible. However, the Montblanc has the looks that no Samsung or Apple (especially Apple, with it's square ugly shape) has and the refinement in the hardware buttons too. The band and buckle mechanism is worth the $170 they charge you for a replacement in their website. Is this watch less bang for your buck? Yes, but a lot of that is like driving a Bentley vs a Toyota, both of them will do the work though.

    The watch will last me about 12 hours with the always-on face, and about 28 hours with normal face-off usage, hourly heart beat reading (Heart Trace app) and two daily alarms. I sleep with the watch because it is my wake-up alarm so no charging overnight. I am planning on purchasing another charging puck when they become available...but the good thing is that it charges pretty fast (1 hour in a 0.5 Amp computer USB port with the screen off), so I'm thinking of charging it while I take a shower and at the office.

    I've yet to explore the fitness app for running and other built-in apps but I am certainly looking forward to the future with my Summit 2 watch.

  • pocholin·

    5-month update.

    Good news is I am still loving this watch! Bad news is Montblanc had to replace it in December because the heart rate monitor stopped working. It didn't take long for them to replace it, so I'm not bitter about the episode.

    I did buy another puck to charge it in the office, I use the one at home for the weekends. I also bought two watch stands that help charging it in a standing position. I just cannot believe Montblanc didn't care about something so simple yet so useful. Without it the puck looses contact (because it is magnetic) very easily or you have to set the watch on a surface on its face, which is just ugly and risky (for scratches).

    Google Fit workout app is great and very accurate, as well as the hear rate monitor. I've also added a few apps, the best one anyone can add is "Staylit wear", otherwise the watch's face turns off after 3 seconds!

  • Zeus·

    Guys and someone answer a question if you have an iOS Iphone can you reply to text messages like short automated replies like ok,thank you, etc