Montblanc Summit 3 review: unmatched luxury, half-baked smartwatch

The Montblanc Summit 3 on a mans wrist.

Montblanc Summit 3

MSRP $1,290.00

“The Montblanc Summit 3 is a beautiful, highly desirable luxury smartwatch with the latest WearOS 3 software, but it’s let down by short battery life and basic fitness tracking.”

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Luxury materials
  • Latest Wear OS 3 software
  • Two straps included

Cons

  • 1-day battery life at the most
  • No Google Assistant
  • Limited Montblanc fitness app

The more I wear the Montblanc Summit 3, the more I consider it one of the most important smartwatch releases of recent times. Big statement, right? Absolutely. So let’s examine why.

It’s the first non-Samsung smartwatch with Google’s Wear OS 3, it works with Android and iOS (unlike Samsung’s latest), it comes from an established luxury Swiss brand, and while it’s expensive, it’s not obscenely so. However, it being important is one thing, but being a good smartwatch is another. Can it succeed at both?

Montblanc Summit 3 design

There’s a chance that, like me, you associate Montblanc with beautiful writing instruments and luxury travel accessories more than watches. When you do think about Montblanc watches, its traditional, quite classically styled travel watches and dress watches that come to mind. Things are changing, though, with the company launching some intriguing new models — the beautiful Iced Sea divers watch and 1858 GMT, for example — which seem to take it in a new, more modern direction.

The Montblanc Summit 3 showing a watch face and its blue strap. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Summit 3 fits in perfectly. It’s a wonderful mix of current tech and elegant watch design, but because it doesn’t take too much inspiration from Montblanc’s heritage models, it looks modern and stylish. It’s made from titanium with a stainless steel bezel, crown, buttons, and case back, plus it has an anti-scratch sapphire crystal over the screen. In the box are a rubber strap and a leather strap, allowing you to freely choose a sportier or more casual look.

Speaking of which, it looks fantastic. The satin finish titanium oozes class, the polished steel sections glint in the sun, and the flat sapphire crystal is beautifully clear. While it shares similar materials to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, the two couldn’t be further apart in the treatment of those materials or the design around them. This is a proper luxury smartwatch, and it feels very special to wear it. It’s even light and comfortable enough to be worn overnight, and the rubber strap doesn’t get sweaty or uncomfortable.

The Montblanc Summit 3 on a mans wrist. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The large knurled crown — a Montblanc trademark — makes using it easy and comfortable, plus I like the way it has a button inside it, rather than the entire crown being a button. The pushers that flank it look great, but are quite clicky when pressed compared to the crown’s button. The 42mm case size is modest as is the 14mm thickness, and I think it fits my 6.5-inch wrist really well. It’s quite a masculine design, though, and that added to the size of the case, means those with smaller wrists may find it overpowering.

Its natural rival is the 42mm Tag Heuer Connected Calibre E4, which only comes in stainless steel but has a ceramic bezel. It’s sportier and more modern than the Summit 3, as you’d expect from the brand, while the Montblanc smartwatch is more elegant and restrained. The screen is identically sized and looks equally as bright and colorful too. My own watch preferences meant I initially leaned more towards the Tag Heuer, but the Summit 3 has turned all that around.

Man using the Montblanc Summit 3's crown. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I don’t wear watches styled like the Summit 3 very often, and they need to be pretty special to tempt me away from divers watches and chronographs, but the Summit 3 has really won me over. It reminds me of wearing a Longines Record for a weekend, despite it being totally different from my usual choices, and absolutely loving the way it looked. The blend of Montblanc heritage, modern design choices, and high-class materials makes the Summit 3 very desirable.

Montblanc Summit 3 Wear OS 3 software

The Montblanc Summit 3’s design will make watch fans stop and stare, but it’s the software that makes tech fans hot under the collar. Samsung has exclusively (officially or otherwise) loaded Google’s Wear OS 3 software onto its Galaxy Watch models, making Montblanc the first to use it without Samsung’s user interface over the top.

Main menu on the Montblanc Summit 3. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Wear OS 3 is all-new and sadly quite familiar at the same time. The initial onboarding process is new as you don’t use the Wear OS app to connect (in fact, iOS makes you uninstall the Wear OS app entirely before it’ll pair), and instead, you rely on Montblanc’s Summit app. This is a big change for manufacturers with Wear OS 3, and it allows them to completely control the entire watch experience from the app to the software on the watch, meaning it can all be branded appropriately. For example, all the watch faces available in the app are Montblanc’s own.

Controlling the watch is basically the same as ever, with swipes to navigate menus, taps to select options, and the rotating crown to make zipping through Wear OS faster. The rotating crown works throughout the system and is far more deeply integrated than similar models using Wear OS 2. The top pusher shows recently used apps, while the bottom pusher launches Montblanc’s Fitness app, but this can be changed to an alternative in the Settings.

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Notifications on the Montblanc Summit 3.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Notifications on the Montblanc Summit 3.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The Montblanc Summit 3 showing its weather Tile.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Quick Settings on the Montblanc Summit 3.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You swipe through multiple Tiles to see relevant information, including your calendar, the weather, steps, heart rate, blood oxygen, and sleep data. The layout and options can be customized in the app. Other apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, you can control music on your phone from the watch, notifications arrive in a list accessed with a swipe, and Quick Settings appear when you swipe down on the main screen.

Design highlights for me include the subtle, grey, oblong-shaped buttons in the app menu and notifications, plus the easily pressed Quick Settings controls, the clean fonts, and the overall uniformity of design. The operating system’s speed and fluidity don’t disappoint either. Wear OS 3’s design is attractive, clean, and modern, plus giving control over the app and pairing process to the manufacturer makes it all feel more cohesive too. It’s also faster to set the smartwatch up, another improvement over Wear OS 2.

However, the software is

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