Following all the usual tech brands, high-end watch makers have been getting in on the smartwatch action and the iconic Mont Blanc is one of the most recent to launch an Android Wear timepiece. Here’s our in-depth Mont Black Summit review.
Check out our chart of the best smartwatches for 2017.
Mont Blanc Summit: Price
Smartwatches priced around £200-300 have become the norm for Android Wear but you can spend more than that, especially if you want one of the fancier Apple Watch Series 2 models that go for price tags like £699.
The traditional watch makers trying their hand at a smartwatch have gone beyond typical prices with Tag Heuer’s Connected costing at least £1,200.
Mont Blanc has gone for a somewhat more sensible £765 for the Summit, but that’s still a lot for a smartwatch that is pretty similar to rivals on the market. Brands like Fossil have managed a more reasonable figure with the Q Founder coming in at just £259.
As with many tech devices, there are various models to choose from with prices reaching £915 if you want the top-end option.
Are you paying for more than just the Mont Blanc name here?
Mont Blanc Summit: Design and build
In tech, it’s often the spec and what’s hidden that can set a product apart from the competition. In smartwatches, it’s almost entirely the opposite. The hardware available varies only slightly so design is hugely important in your choice.
This makes sense, of course, as a watch is a much more fashion orientated device compared to a phone that spends a lot of time tucked away in a pocket or bag. For many, part of wearing a watch is a statement.
When it comes to the Summit, there’s not a huge amount going on to show off the fact you’re wearing a Mont Blanc device. The brand name is etched onto the buckle but there’s nothing on the front beyond the digital watch face – we’ll talk more about those later.
The watch casing is similar to rivals such as the Fossil Q Founder and Huawei Watch. It’s made from PVD-coated stainless steel, with ‘satinated’ and polished finish. PDV stands for physical vapour deposition and, long story short, makes it more durable.
As you can see, it’s available in an all-black model but you can also get a silver case or even one that combines both. The Summit uses a 46mm case size and is 12.5mm thick; both are pretty typical figures so there are no issues there.
Some manufacturers offer two different case sizes to cater for different wrist sizes but that’s not the, er, case here. There are various different straps to choose from including rubber, leather and even alligator leather – strangely some leather options are cheaper than rubber ones.
Domed and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal covers the digital screen and on the side you’ll find a power button that’s also used for navigating the interface. The button sits on the end of the crown which looks great but there’s disappointment to be found here.
We really hoped that the crown would be usable, like the Apple Watch, so you can scroll smoothly and satisfyingly through notifications and menus. Sadly that’s not the case and it doesn’t even move without function.
Mont Blanc has ensured the Summit has an IP68 rating, higher than the usual IP67 for wearables. However, despite the high level of waterproofing, the firm says the watch is only resistant to rain, sweat and hand washing and isn’t suitable for immersion or swimming.
There’s no doubt that the build quality is top-notch and that’s really what you’re paying for here. That said, we’ve found the quality of smartwatches from the likes of Motorola, Samsung, LG and Huawei to be excellent, too, so it’s not a huge jump.
Mont Blanc Summit: Specs and performance
Over the years we’ve found the smartwatches use an almost identical set of specs, especially when it comes to Android Wear devices. The Mont Blanc Summit doesn’t buck that trend so you’re money isn’t exactly going on features you can’t find elsewhere.
The circular display is 1.39in in size and uses a resolution of 400×400. That’s pretty good so in general everything on the screen looks crisp. It can’t quite match the LG Watch Sport, though, which touts 480×480. The AMOLED tech provides good contrast and colour, and we found the watch fairly easy to use outdoors.
We’re pleased to report there’s no ‘flat tyre’ here – a black section of the screen and bottom – which has been used on previous Android Wear watches. The display is fully circular on the Summit.
Under the surface, the Summit is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor, a chip specially designed for wearables. We’ve had no issues with lag or anything during our time with the Summit.
Also on offer is a standard 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage for things like apps and music. There’s Bluetooth which you’ll need to connect the device to a phone – to get notifications and the like – but it can also be used for wireless headphones.
On-board Wi-Fi means you can connect the Summit directly to the internet so you do have to use a connected device like a phone.
On the back you’ll find a heart rate monitor and there are other sensors for fitness tracking including an altimeter. It’s all perfectly good for day-to-day tracking but the Summit isn’t going to satisfy those who are serious about fitness – there’s no GPS which for most will be integral.
There are other omissions too with no LTE (not even optional) which isn’t the worst thing but we’re disappointed at the lack of NFC for use with Android Pay.
In terms of battery life, it’s no surprise that a wearable like this doesn’t last very long – Mont Blanc only claims one-day capacity via the 300mAh battery. With basic usage, checking the time and notifications, we managed to get around a day and a half from the Summit.
You’ll need to charge the smartwatch every night then and you’ll do this with the supplied charger and we found it took around an hour or so to fully charge.
The Summit snaps into place nicely with magnets but we we’re expecting something it bit nicer than this basic bit of plastic and metal. It doesn’t look particularly great and it’s so small the wire means it moves around too easily.
As you’d expect from a new smartwatch in 2017, the Summit runs on Android Wear 2.0 and on the whole it’s no different from rivals. The good news for some is that, via Android Wear, the Summit can be used with iPhone.
Version 2.0 is a big improvement over the original but it’s strange that things like gestures are switched off by default.
The only thing that’s different is that you get custom Mont Blanc watch faces. While you can customise them including elements such as complications, it’s a shame that there’s only a choice of three faces to start with.
It’s a decent smartwatch interface and Mont Blanc pre-installs apps such as Runtastic, Uber and Foursquare. The real shame here, as mentioned, earlier is that you can’t interact using the crown which doesn’t move.