Men's luxury goods brand Montblanc entered the smartwatch race on Thursday with the Summit, an Android-powered timepiece available in stainless steel and titanium.
It's an ambitious naming choice from the German company: Once you've reached the summit there's nowhere left to go but down. Nevertheless, with several mix-and-match options, all based around Montblanc's classic 1858 collection, it looks like Summit is yet another luxury smartwatch made to look like its mechanical relatives. Following TAG Heuer, Nixon, Fossil and Movado, plenty of premium watch companies seem to be dipping their toes into Google's Android Wear 2.0 pool.
The Summit will be available in the UK and Europe at the beginning of May, at first exclusively through retailer Mr Porter. Mid-May it will roll out to Montblanc boutiques and other registered retailers across the world, starting with Europe and the US.
The various case combinations include matte black and brushed silver over stainless steel or titanium, a domed glass sapphire screen, stainless steel buckles and a crown marked with the distinctive Montblanc snowflake logo. All are unashamedly masculine, but at least Montblanc, unlike its competitors in the tech world, has always been a men's brand. We're still waiting to hear Samsung's excuse (ditto Huawei, ditto LG).
Montblanc includes seven of its own unique watch faces, borrowed from the 1858 collection. All offer Montblanc-designed complications including second counters, timers and world clocks.
Strap options include black calf leather, blue and brown Florentine leather, a rubber band that is lasered to look remarkably like fabric, and alligator skin. Apparently, the lasering process is so complex that the rubber-banded version is priced higher than the calf leather, at $890 (£720 or AU$1,160 converted). Only the alligator-banded watch is more expensive, starting at $980 (£795 or AU$1,280) for the stainless steel case and rising to $1,070 (£865 or AU$1,395) for the titanium case. TAG Heuer's new smartwatches have it beat on sky-high pricing, but not by much.
Battery life is a single day -- not long enough for the average human to scale the actual Mont Blanc and return safely to sea level, but common for Android Wear smartwatches.
Despite being associated with the Swiss tradition of watchmaking, Montblanc is not a Swiss company. It is also not based in Italy or France, both of which lay claim to the Alpine summit of the mountain for which it's named. Instead the company is German, having been founded by a banker from Hamburg who created a fountain pen that wouldn't leak when he travelled.
Travel is still a big theme at Montblanc today, which is why Uber and Foursquare come preloaded on the watch. Summit owners will also get a Runtastic membership included with their watch purchase. A little bonus: daily fitness goals will be measured in diagonal lines that, when full, make up a mountain.
Felix Obschonka, Montblanc's associate director of new technology, sees the watch used most while being on the move, whether that be running or navigating through an airport. On more than one occasion he also mentions going to the opera while wearing the leather strap -- a timely reminder that Montblanc is, after all, a luxury company.