Montblanc Summit 2 review

The new Snapdragon chipset promises better battery life, but we experienced exactly the opposite. More about that later.

We would first of all like to thank Montblanc for taking the risk to bring a smartwatch on the market. There is a need for luxury smartwatches because some people don’t want to wear a gadget-looking watch in a business or formal environment. Currently there are only 3 premium luxury watch-brands that took the risk, and Montblanc is one of them.

The watch is simply beautiful. It looks and feels premium. It almost looks like a normal watch. At the time of writing, this is simply the nicest smartwatch on the market. Montblanc knows how to make a classy watch. It is a joy to wear. Very comfortable, and each time we look at the time, we admire the stunning looks and beautiful sharp display.

The Summit 2 has no speaker. So no sound with notifications or no hourly chime. Also not possible to call over bluetooth with this watch. A missed opportunity here. The vibration motor is quite weak. We keep missing some notifications because of this. You better check manually now and then. Checking is easy: just turn the crown upwards.

The software is a bit of a turn-down. First of all the operating system: Wear OS by Google. The Summit 2 is running the latest version of Wear OS, but even this version is still very limited and clunky to use, compared to smartwatches running Tizen from Samsung, and even the Garmin sport watches. For us, this is a big step backwards compared to our Samsung Galaxy Watch and our Garmin Fenix 5S watch. There are no widgets in Wear OS like in Tizen to scroll through the information you would like to consult. You have to use complications on the watch face to access basic information, but these do not update while the watch is in ambient mode. So you have to wake up the watch to see any change, and even then these complications do not always update. For any other kind of information you need to open the complete app drawer and select an app from there. This is just not fluid. And there are many other small issues with Wear OS. Google still has a lot of work to do here. We cannot blame Montblanc for this off course. All Wear OS smartwatches will suffer from this.

The special apps that Montblanc provides are nothing to write home about. The World Timer app is very nice, but some of the other ones are very limited and feel unfinished. Take the Travel Info app, for example. We expected a lot of that app, but it is perhaps the biggest disappointment. The info that you get here is not worth the trouble. There is more information to be found on 1 Wikipedia page about a country then in this app. And it just looks dull. White text and icons on a black background. We expected a nice app with beautiful graphics and good tips for the better restaurants and bars and shopping. You know: the kind of places where people who buy Montblanc products go to.  But none of that is provided.  So don’t buy this watch for the Montblanc apps.

Now to the battery life. We have done several days of testing and found that the most you  can expect is about 16 hours of battery life. And that is with only very light usage: so no sports activity tracking, nog GPS, no heart rate monitoring. Just check the time, and some notifications. You will need to charge this watch every day, and if you are really going to use it for activity tracking or apps that require GPS, you will need to charge additionally during the day also. We did a factory reset and did not install any apps, to verify the bad result. Things did not improve (update: things did improve later, see below) The promise of the new chipset regarding battery life is clearly not kept. We hope this will be improved with future updates.

During our testing, Daylight Saving Time changed for our region. This watch was our only smartwatch that did not change the time by itself. We needed to go into settings, set the time to manual, and then back to sync, to make it see the new time. On top of that, the ambient (“always on”) display, kept showing the wrong time. Each time the watch was activated, the time changed one hour back and forward. We had to restart the watch to make it behave normal. Not what you expect from a modern smartwatch. We expect that this also is a problem with Wear OS, and Montblanc is not to blame for this.

The compass was way off while navigating using Google Maps. Sometimes by more than 180°.  We fixed this by rotating the watch in all directions while Google Maps was open. This seemed to calibrate the compass. We had to Google that to find that out. No compass calibration function or instructions are present in Wear OS. We also found that the heart rate monitoring does not run continuously like most other smartwatches. It only takes 1 measurement when you open the app, and it needs a lot of time to do that. So no nice graph with hour heart rate history, or some statistics like your resting heart rate. There is also no altimeter or barometer in this watch.

Although Google Pay is available in our country, we could never make it work. We managed setting up 1 card. Now the app just closes when we try to add another. We never succeeded in actually paying with the watch. The terminal does not react, or when it does, it just gives an error. We will keep trying however. We suspect this will be fixed with updates.

With so many drawbacks, is it still worth buying? We would in fact recommend this if you need a dressy smartwatch, and you don’t need a lot of features. It looks stunning, but remember functionality and user friendliness are way behind what Samsung has to offer for a much lower price. This is mostly because of Wear OS, so things could improve soon. This is the smartwatch to wear to go to a fancy restaurant, or have an important business meeting, and all you need is some notifications, and see the time.

We hope the battery issues will be fixed soon. The Montblanc Summit 2 will be a nice piece of jewelry to wear on an evening out in the city or for a business lunch, untill the many issues with Wear OS are fixed.

Update: We find ourselves wearing this watch quite a lot actually. Although our Samsung Galaxy watch would often be a better choice, we still preferred the Montblanc, just because it looks like a normal watch. After wearing the Montblanc for a day, all other smartwatches just don’t look right anymore. They look like toys and gadgets. The Montblanc looks like a timepiece. On a normal business day, you actually don’t need a lot of functionality. Time, date and notifications are enough. Outdoors in nature, or while doing sports, we still prefer our other watches, but on a normal working day, the Montblanc is the one we pick each and every time.

Update after draining the battery: it did not make a difference. Average battery life is still only about 12 hours with very light usage, with a maximum of 16 hours. We will contact Google and Montblanc to find out if this is an issue with all Summit 2 watches, or only with our watch.

Update december 20, 2018: for some reason the Google Pay app was removed from the watch after an update. When we looked in the Play store, it was also no longer in the list of “apps on your phone”. When searching for it, we found it but it was shown as disabled. We left it that way for a couple of days and found that battery life was now very good. After 16 hours of light usage, we still had 50% left! We tried to enable it again, but it reported that Google Pay is not available in my location. Strange because it was working before this, and it works on the phone…

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