I always get super excited when I get to test premium smartwatches such as the Montblanc Summit 3. Call me shallow, but the thought of wearing watches with a 4-digit price tag is exhilarating. And indeed, this Montblanc Summit 3 review is a little bit like a love letter to premium watch craftsmanship; and why, even in 2022, we need premium smartwatches like this one.
Maybe that's why I felt a bit cheated when I reviewed the Summit Lite a couple of years ago (here's my Montblanc Summit Lite review), as it tried to water down this high-end experience. Worst still, that watch used Google's Wear OS, which is infamously laggy and terrible. Truth be told, newer iterations of the wearable operating system are slightly more tolerable, as the Montblanc Summit 3 exemplifies.
Is the Montblanc Summit 3 the best smartwatch money can buy? Is it better than the best Garmin watches in the same category, such as the Garmin Epix Gen 2? Why would anyone buy the Montblanc Summit 3 over an Apple Watch Ultra? Let's discuss this.
Montblanc Summit 3 review – Price and availability
The Montblanc Summit 3 was announced in July 2022 and is available to buy now directly from Montblanc US (opens in new tab), Montblanc UK (opens in new tab) and Montblanc AU (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $1,290./£1,105/AU$2,030. Currently, it's available in three standard versions, including Titanium, Black Titanium, and Bicolor Titanium.
There is also a Naruto Edition (opens in new tab) of the Summit 3, which is more expensive and also completely random, with special engravings of Naruto‘s signature weapons on the watch case and a leather strap with embossings of the Konohagakure symbol. For all those Naruto fans out there who like high-end smartwatches.
Montblanc Summit 3 – Build quality
The Montblanc Summit 3 has a 42 mm grey titanium case with stainless steel bezel, a rotating crown and pushers. The 1.28" AMOLED display has a resolution of 416 x 416 pixels and is protected by an anti-scratch Sapphire Glass lens. The engraved steel case back incorporates the heart rate sensor, charging pins, and resin-fibreglass composite covering the sensor.
The watch with two strap options: a black calf leather strap and a blue rubber sports strap, both with a pin buckle made of stainless steel. The Summit 3 arrived with the black leather strap attached to the case, which I promptly changed to the blue rubber option as leather straps are terrible for any sports activity. Thankfully, the blue strap doesn't cheapen the watch one bit.
As for water resistance, the Montblanc Summit 3 is rated at 50 metres / 5 ATM bar. From a sensor point of view, it has an optical heart rate sensor, barometer, accelerometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensor. No altimeter or temperature sensor, however. At least it was storage (8 GB) to store apps on the watch.
Montblanc Summit 3 – Features
I wasn't expecting a mind-blowing performance from the Montblanc Summit 3, a Wear OS watch, despite the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ processor, after my fiasco with the Summit Lite. Some smartwatches in the past, such as the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra, made the operating system work, but Wear OS still isn't my favourite, to say the least.
Indeed, the Montblanc Summit 3 can be laggy, especially after waking the watch from standby mode. Loading time was also longer when interacting with the screen using the touchscreen, something to be expected from a Wear OS watch. Full disclosure, once the watch fully wakes up from standby mode, the lag isn't unbearable; there is a slight delay here and there, but nothing too terrible.
Like most smartwatches these days, the Montblanc Summit 3 can track heart rate, monitor sleep, stress, workouts and more – it can even estimate VO2 max! I found the sleep tracking accurate; maybe not as good as the Fitbit Sense 2, but definitely good enough for most people. Better still, you can see details about your sleep on the watch, and not just in the app.
Stress tracking on the Montblanc Summit 3 works in mysterious ways. I couldn't tell whether it was based on data from the sensor, workout loads, calories burned or something else. Most of the time, the watch said I was recovering, which I assume means that I wasn't working out too hard, and my sleep was well.
Thanks to the watch running Wear OS, the Montblanc Summit 3 offers a slew of additional features. These include a digital compass, Calm meditations, Hole18 gold maps, and more. I haven't given these a thorough enough try, so I can't tell how useful they are, but they are available on the watch.
Montblanc Summit 3 – Battery life
Initially, I was massively disappointed with the battery life of the Montblanc Summit 3. I couldn't find any info about the official battery life of the watch, but with the always-on screen active, it barely lasts a day. Learning from the mistakes of the Apple Watch and Pixel Watch, Montblanc should know that even a day-long battery isn't enough in 2022, especially from a watch that is meant to be worn in bed.
'When watches like the Sense 2 mentioned above can have a 6-day long battery life, and the full AMOLED Huawei Watch GT 3 lasts nearly two weeks on a full charge, how come the Montblanc Summit 3 can barely last a day? After some tinkering, I found a solution, which might not please everyone, but it helped me. On the watch, there is a 'Theatre mode', which disables the screen unless you press the buttons (normal sleep mode only dims the screen).
With this mode on, I managed to get nearly three days of battery out of the Montblanc Summit 3. Granted, the screen wasn't on most of the time, but the sensors were doing their bit, which is good enough for me, although I appreciate some people will want to see something on the screen when they flick their wrist. They'll have to change the battery more often.
Montblanc Summit 3 – Sports tracking and accuracy
The Montblanc Summit 3 isn't a running watch or a multisport watch. Yes, it's a smartwatch that can track various sports activities, so technically, it is a multisport watch. However, the way it tracks workouts closely resembles how fitness trackers do the same job.
Although the Montblanc Summit 3 tracks runs and cycles, it doesn't really do in a performance-wearable sense. It'll log some stats, but the accuracy of these is questionable. It won't help you improve form either; the Summit 3 is more of a reactive fitness tracker than a proactive performance watch.
Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. I don't think anyone in their right mind would buy the Montblanc Summit 3 instead of the Garmin Forerunner 955 for running training. No one should trade in their Polar Pacer Pro to monitor recovery with the Summit 3 instead.
The Montblanc Summit 3 is meant to add some health and fitness tracking capabilities to your premium smartwatch; nothing less, nothing more. Sure, it can't take on the health-tracking capabilities of the Garmin Venu 2, and it can't measure ECG like the Withings Scanwatch. But neither of those will look as classy on your wrist as the Montblanc Summit 3.
Montblanc Summit 3 – Verdict
The Montblanc Summit 3 isn't without contradictions. It's a premium watch through and through; even the box it comes in is one the prettiest wearable container I've seen in, like, forever. It's built with premium materials like titanium, stainless steel, sapphire glass, etc. (I appreciate that stainless steel isn't the poshest material, but in this context, it adds to the watch's overall premium feel).
What lets down the Summit 3 is the Wear OS operating system and its battery life. The user interface does its best to mitigate the frustration that inevitably arises from using a Wear OS device. Still, I can't help but feel that no matter what watch companies do, Wear OS will never work properly.
It's too energy intense, looks samey-samey on all watches, and is way too laggy, even on watches with decent processors. I appreciate it's more effort to develop and design a proprietary operating system, but it's far from impossible. Montblanc should at least give it a try; that would elevate the user experience of its watches instantly.
That said, testing the Montblanc Summit 3 wasn't a terrible experience – on the contrary. By the end of the testing period, I was almost sad I had to forfeit my Summit 3, even though I can't imagine using it for anything else but fitness tracking. Buy the Montblanc Summit 3 if you need a premium smartwatch that's not as bulky as Garmin's top-end watches, not as quirky as Fitbit's wearables and classier than an Apple Watch.
Montblanc Summit 3 – Also consider
The Apple Watch Ultra is the best Apple watch – apparently. It has a large AMOLED display and tough casing that enables the watch to be used for diving. It has the best battery life of an Apple watch, which still isn't remotely close enough to any multisport watch on the market. It looks pretty, though, not to mention it's cheaper than the Summit 3.
The Withing Scanwatch Horizon can be yours for less than half the price of the Montblanc Summit 3. This premium hybrid smartwatch has a 30-day battery life, an integrated altimeter, smart notifications, Bluetooth connectivity, different sports modes, and ECG and SpO2 sensors. Not bad.