Montblanc Summit 3 review

Style and desirability isn't in doubt, but Wear 3 doesn't wow yet
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Montblanc Summit 3
By Montblanc
There's no doubting the craftsmanship of the Summit 3 – so if you're looking for a stylish watch with smart features, this is one of the best in the business. However, the software experience still feels lacking. There are positives to take from both Google and Montblanc's software, but our time with Wear OS 3.0 offered worryingly familiar signs, thanks to poor battery life and laggy performance.

Hit
  • A classy design
  • Some nice Montblanc apps
  • Slick, customisable watch faces
  • Notification support
Miss
  • Screen visibility in bright outdoor light
  • A lot of data not tracked in Montblanc app
  • Some performance issues
  • Bad battery life

The Montblanc Summit 3 is an important smartwatch – because it's the first non-Samsung watch to run Wear OS 3.

Like its predecessors, the Summit 3 offers the luxury feel of a traditional Montblanc watch. Unsurprisingly that does come at a price. It costs $1,290/£1,105 – and features heart rate and blood oxygen tracking, Google Assistant, and access to the Google Play Store to download apps.

With the Google Pixel Watch, and upcoming new smartwatches from Mobvoi, and the Oppo Watch 3 on the horizon, does the Montblanc Summit 3 offer a good enough experience and stir excitement about Google's smartwatch platform?

We've spent time with the Summit 3 on our wrists – here are our thoughts.


Montblanc Summit 3: Design and screen

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After dishing out a disappointing design with the first Summit, Montblanc hasn't put a foot wrong since. The Summit 2 and the Summit Lite were both great lookers, and that doesn't change with the Summit 3.

You're getting high-grade materials, great quality removable 22mm bands, and a vibrant touchscreen display.

The 42mm case is made from titanium with a stainless steel bezel surrounding the screen – it feels light and comfortable – even on our slender wrists. There's also steel around the back where the optical sensors lie.

It measures in at 14mm thick, so it's certainly not the slimmest smartwatch you can pick up, but the satin finish on that case body screams quality and class.

You've also got two pushers and an elegant watch crown to twist when you want to navigate through menu screens or press to jump into the app screen.

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It's good to see that Montblanc also includes the option of using either calf leather or a silicone sport strap, and the latter doesn't look like it's been ripped off a Garmin or Polar sports watch.

It still manages to retain that more elegant look when you're getting a sweat on with it.

The screen is 1.28-inch, 416 x 416 resolution AMOLED, so that's a bump up in size and resolution compared to the Summit 3. There's sapphire crystal in place to offer some protection against scratches here too.

Colors feel accurate and you can use it in always-on mode as well, at the expense of the battery you can expect to get from this watch.

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It's not the brightest smartwatch display we've used, but we did find it a struggle to view the screen in much brighter outdoor light, even during a trip up to see the Mont Blanc mountains.

If you want to go swimming with this watch, you can do that. Just make sure you whip off that calf leather watch band first. It's water-resistant to 50 meters.

The Summit 3 is an attractive-looking smartwatch that gives you that feel of a traditional Montblanc watch.

It doesn't necessarily offer something radically new in terms of smartwatch design, but it does take a typical, male-focused look and it feels like a high-quality watch that will get compliments as we did when it's strapped to your wrist.

Montblanc Summit 3: Wear OS 3.0 and smartwatch features

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Digging into the watch settings reveals that the Summit 3 runs on Wear OS 3, but there are no details of the version number.

It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 4100+ along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage – which is par for the course these days.

As mentioned, this is the first non-Samsung smartwatch to use Google's new smartwatch operating system – and we were hoping for big things. The reality though is that some UI tweaks aside, the old Wear 2.0 feel incremental, not radical.

Using Wear OS 3.0 on the Montblanc Summit 3 does feel different from using it on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 5, and that's mainly because you don't have Samsung's UI overlaid on top. The app screens are set up and accessed differently as well.

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Getting around is similar, letting you swipe from all directions from the main watch face screen to get around to the key areas. There are Tiles (widgets) when you swipe left or right, your notification stream when you swipe up and the quick settings menu when you swipe down.

Pressing the crown gets you into the app screen, which certainly looks a lot cleaner than it does on Wear OS 2 watches. Here you'll find a mix of Google and Montblanc apps and of course third-party ones that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

To get the watch set up, you'll need to download the Montblanc Summit phone app, which we did on our Android phone.

This is where you can assign your Google account, select from a nice array of watches and select your preferred Tiles.

You can also do things like tinker with notifications and calendar sync settings and that's really about it.

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On the watch, the experience of using the Summit 3 is largely positive. The UI feels for the most part slick and intuitive though there we did experience some performance niggles. There was some slight lag at times and slow app loading to contend with, which is slightly worrying.

The stream of notifications on the new Wear felt well optimized for Summit 3's touchscreen.

Google's app presence consists of things like Assistant, Agenda (to keep track of your calendar), and Google Maps integration. Most of those features worked well and the Google Maps and Assistant support particularly stand out in terms of usefulness.

Using Google Assistant from the wrist has improved over the years and it impressed us in our time with a fellow watch the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Once you've completed the setup on the watch and phone, you can ask pretty much all of the same things you'd ask that Assistant on an Android phone or smart speaker. Ask it for weather forecasts, to do calculations, translations, or to start tracking a workout and it's quickly responsive to those requests.

Something like Google Maps feels like a natural fit for watches and it's well integrated here on Wear and the Summit 3.

Launch the app on your watch and you can search for a spot to navigate to it'll also display recently searched locations whether that's happened on your phone, watch, or on the Google Maps desktop app. It's also dependent on linking your Google account. T

hen it can show you ETA for different methods and you'll get nice-sized prompts and a map to point you in the right direction.

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The problem for us is that using new Wear on the Summit 3 still doesn't feel as complete or energizing as rivals.

It may be why Montblanc has also decided to include it own software here as well, so there are apps for tracking heart rate and blood oxygen or tracking workouts. And it came pre-loaded with Spotify, Calm, Komoot, Hole19 – and the Google Play Store feels busy and much improved.

The likes of Spotify and Komoot and apps like Lifesum have been rebuilt for Wear OS 3 and to good effect, with better-optimised UI and quicker setting up processes. This is something that needs to continue on a larger scale to improve the overall experience of using Wear and help plug some of the gaps.

There's still a mix of Wear OS 2 and Wear OS 3 apps in that Play Store as well, which creates a bit of fragmented time exploring and finding what's going to be a good fit for the new Wear too.

iPhone compatibility

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If you're using the Summit 3 on an iPhone, there are some big limitations. That's mainly in the app department where things like Google Maps and Google Wallet aren't accessible. So it does seem that while iOS support is in play here, this is still very much one for Android users.

We also had real trouble setting up Google Assistant with an iPhone. There seemed to be a route to doing it, but we hit a dead end.

The relationship between iOS and Wear OS 3.0 understandably feels imperfect, and it means that it's hard to recommend the Summit 3 to users of iPhones.

Wear OS 3.0: Early verdict

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Our overall feeling of Wear OS 3.0 is style over substance. It's visually much improved, but it still doesn't feel as rich as watchOS – with large parts of the health and activity tracking picture still left to third parties.

In many ways this puts users in control – you can choose the best experience using the choice of Wear OS apps available. But the core experience felt a little sluggish, with some hanging and crashing apps.

Maybe Google has something bigger planned for its Pixel Watch and what we see in terms of software, but on the Summit 3, there isn't a huge amount to shout about from a Wear perspective.

Montblanc Summit 3: Health and fitness tracking

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If you can get comfortable with taking a smartwatch that costs over $1,000 out for a run or a swim then you can use the Summit 3 to do that – just don't expect an exceptional experience when you do.

Montblanc includes accelerometers and gyroscope sensors to track movement and enable features like activity and sleep tracking.

There's built-in GPS to accurately track outdoor workouts and an optical sensor to take heart rate and blood oxygen readings. Those readings aren't recorded anywhere in the Montblanc phone app, making it a challenge to monitor trends over time.

You'll certainly want to be using the Strava app for Wear OS 3.0, which is one of the key launch apps.

Real-time heart rate and blood oxygen readings though did tend to match up to similar readings taken on our Garmin watch and a dedicated pulse oximeter, so it does at least seem to serve up good data.

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GPS tracking compared: Garmin Enduro 2 (left) and Montblanc Summit 3 (right)

Montblanc includes its Fitness app where you can track workouts covering cycling, running (indoors and outdoors), HIIT, yoga, and hiking.

The core sports tracking modes offer richer metrics, but again, workouts are not stored anywhere in Montblanc's app, which makes it challenging to review performance or chart progress. It's not something we could recommend to anyone interested in their workout performance.

When you do complete a workout, you can view additional data on the watch.

For runs it'll display average pace, calories burned, average heart rate, and distance covered.

On all of our runs, those metrics were well off from a Garmin Enduro 2 running watch. It massively underreported distance and pacing.

Average heart rate readings for steady-paced workouts were similar, but that native workout app doesn't delve into maximum readings or display any sort of heart rate graphs.

Along with workout tracking, there's something called Body Energy, which is essentially a bit like Garmin's Body Battery monitor, which looks at stress data generated by heart rate variability measurements and workout data to assess energy levels. It scores Body Energy out of 100, so if it's low, you should think about resting.

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We wore it alongside a Garmin and monitored the scores for Body Energy and Garmin's Body Battery and found they suggested similar scores, giving a sense that it can offer some guidance on whether you should fill your day with lots of things or take it easy.

For steps and sleep, the watch offers a nice breakdown showing daily steps, with a daily breakdown of when those steps occurred.

There's also a weekly analysis, which shows the lowest and highest activity scores, as well as daily averages.

That step data in general was in the ballpark of the Oura Ring 3 and Garmin step tracking.

When you head off to bed, you'll wake up with a record of sleep duration, a sleep score, and actual sleep time data. We put its sleep tracking powers up against a Garmin and found data like sleep duration, sleep scores, and time spent in sleep stages were similar.

Again though, there isn't anywhere to view this data off the watch unless you're pushing it to a third-party app.

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Sleep tracking compared: Garmin Enduro 2 (left) and Montblanc Summit 3 (right)

You're also getting stress tracking here, where you can monitor HRV-based stress measurements over your day and find out whether you enjoyed a relaxing day to balance out your stress with recommendations also on offer to make use of the guided breathing exercises also at your disposal.

The Montblanc Summit 3 feels like a better fitness tracker than a sports watch. The latter could be slightly improved by turning to a third-party app from the Google Play Store (which includes Strava, which has been optimised for Wear OS 3), but if you're hoping it's going to be a useful marathon training or HIIT partner, for example, this is not the one.

On the whole, the fitness tracking elements of the Montblanc Summit 3 are good – as is the company's presentation and visualization of your data.

However, the Pixel Watch is due to get Fitbit fitness tracking integration, and we'd love to see that rolled out here.

Montblanc Summit 3: Battery life

We did hold some hope that Wear OS 3.0 might herald an improvement in battery life on Wear OS smartwatches, but that isn't the case with the Summit 3.

This is a smartwatch that in full smartwatch mode, is good for a day. If you’re planning on using it overnight to track sleep, then you might capture that entire night, but often you won’t. There is a battery saver mode that should get you through an entire night's sleep.

Our battery experiences hugely varied day-to-day. On some days the battery drained in less than half a day and switched to the time-only mode. That mode keeps your screen alive for a few more hours before it is fully dead.

In general, it lasted throughout the day and was low by the time we were ready for bed.

When you use GPS tracking, the battery drop was the Wear OS norm. It doesn’t handle that strain particularly well based on our testing. it was over 10% for just under an hour of running using GPS.

If you’re satisfied with a smartwatch that lasts a day, then that’s what you get here. You can get a bit more, but it's not much more than the promised 24 hours.


Michael Sawh

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Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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