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Montblanc Summit 2 shoots for the high end of Google smartwatches

It's the first Wear OS watch with newer battery-extending processors, but it's also crazy expensive.

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Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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James Martin/CNET

Google doesn't have its own premium Pixel smartwatch -- not yet, anyway -- but there are plenty of smartwatches with Google's newly updated Wear OS software with added fitness tracking and NFC mobile payments hitting stores this fall. And some of them will have those brand-new Qualcomm chips that promise longer battery life.

The first watch with Qualcomm's new chip has arrived, and it happens to be an expensive one: the $995 Montblanc Summit 2, announced at Qualcomm's watch event in early September, is available Monday. I wore one, and looked at it up close. It feels nice to wear, and at that crazy-expensive price point, it had better be good. It all depends on whether you're ready to spend almost $1,000 on a Google-connected smartwatch.

Montblanc's first Google-connected Summit smartwatch released last year was also expensive, but had bare-bones features and lacked extra fitness functions. The Summit 2 at least includes all the extras: NFC Google Pay, GPS, heart rate, barometer and 5 ATM water resistance. It's also smaller, down to 42 millimeters instead of last year's 46mm case.

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Watch this: Montblanc Summit 2 smartwatch adds fitness and longer battery life... and costs nearly $1,000

The Summit 2's steel case has its own rotating crown and two buttons, and is compatible with 22mm watch straps or Montblanc's own steel mesh, rubber, nylon or leather straps. On-wrist, it has the gravity of a high-end watch. But its display is still a touchscreen, encased in curved sapphire. It doesn't have any physical analog watch hands like the LG Watch W7.

Montblanc has added new custom apps to the Wear OS software suite, including the company's own fitness coaching app developed with Firstbeat (a company that also develops Garmin's heart rate analytics) and a "Timeshifter" app designed to ease travelers into new time zones. (I didn't get to try this.)

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James Martin/CNET

Qualcomm's new 3100 chips promise some extra battery life, provided you're not expecting much more than basic time-telling: the Summit 2 claims about 1.5 days as a smartwatch, plus three to five extra days of use thanks to a new watch-only mode that shows time and date. In watch-only mode on a full charge, it could last up to 30 days.

The new Summit 2 watch faces look sharp, based on Montblanc's 1858 watch collection. The new Qualcomm chips allow the watch faces to look better in always-on mode, with a more realistic color palette. From a casual distance, it looks like a regular watch. It's a great-looking design... provided you can afford it.

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James Martin/CNET

The Montblanc Summit 2 is expensive, and hardly for the average person. It wins the best-fancy-Google-Wear-OS watch award for now, but I'd definitely recommend waiting for more affordable alternatives (or just install the newest WearOS software update). Remember: This is merely the first of a wave of expected new Google Wear OS watches that run Qualcomm's promising new processors. Expect plenty more similarly equipped models at better prices later this year, and into 2019.