Montblanc has become the first multi-product luxury brand to launch a smart watch, with its Android-based Montblanc Summit timepiece to arrive in Australia in May.
Vintage looks and premium materials give the feel of a real watch on the wrist and the timepiece's display is covered by a slightly curved sapphire glass, a world first in smart watches.
The announcement follows the launch early this week of Tag Heuer's upgraded Connected watch, an Android device whose first iteration released last year exceeded sales expectations by a factor of three. The new Tag Connected costs $2300; the Montblanc Summit starting price will be €890, which with GST would translate to about $1500. No official price has yet been determined for Australia.
Montblanc's move is sure to cause a ripple in the tradition-bound watch industry and comes as sales of mechanical watches have been declining month-on-month for more than a year.
Montblanc, founded in Germany in 1906, makes writing instruments, watches and leather goods. The Summit is a 46mm model that brings together the company's upper-end watchmaking expertise with Google's latest operating system, Android 2, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor.
"Nothing compares to the sensation of traditional fine Swiss watchmaking, but in a fast-moving world being able to access all kinds of information digitally has become essential," said Montblanc International chief executive Jérôme Lambert. "The Summit bridges these two worlds with a simple and highly functional product that gives its owners the freedom to have it all."
Underscoring Montblanc's discovery of the digital age, the watch will be sold exclusively online at Mr Porter for two weeks before being available via the Montblanc website and retail outlets.
Mechanics v tech
The Summit borrows features from the Montblanc 1858. Montblanc's stated aim was to bring a one-of-a-kind vintage design to the category and inspire a younger generation who appreciate high quality materials and finishes, and who like the feeling of a mechanical watch on the wrist.
The brand turned to its 1858 collection as the inspiration for the case as well as the dials, which are digitally reproduced on a high-contrast AMOLED display.
The case comes in a choice of four different materials and styles —black PVD coated stainless steel, a bi-colour stainless steel case with a black PVD coated stainless steel bezel, stainless steel case with satinated finish and a grade 5 titanium case also with satinated finish.
Each is fitted with a pusher in the design of the crown from the 1858 collection.
There is a choice of eight straps, from a sporty, water-resistant rubber NATO in black, blue, green or red, to leather numbers from the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence – all easily swapped thanks to quick-release spring bars.
The Summit offers the usual smart watch functions – madeover Montblanc style – with a claimed 300 possible configurations.
It connects via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and has 4GB of Flash storage that can be used to sync and play music without the need of a smartphone.
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Bani McSpedden is watch editor of The Australian Financial Review and of watch-next.com.