A confluence of technology, e-commerce, economies of scale and social media have made it easier to bring new ideas to market across the board. Barriers to entry once faced by innovators have shrunken, or at least morphed to a degree. It’s easier now to design, prototype, and collect feedback on a product than it was 15 years ago - and at a much lower cost. One place you can see this play out is in the entry level watch market.
Whether this is good or bad depends on your personal preferences. But it’s hard to ignore the explosion of “microbrands” brands in the space. One such brand acting on this confluence of opportunity is Monta.
As the sister company of Everest they were an early mover seizing on gaps in consumer demand for high quality rubber straps - specifically for Rolex. With the skills learned through Everest in hand they’ve expanded into watchmaking. With Monta they offer new designs, thoughtful craftsmanship and moderate affordability.
Monta currently has three models available online - a dive watch, a travel watch and a field watch which I’ve been wearing for about 6 months.
At first glance, the Triumph is understated, simple and to the point. But looking closely there’s quite a bit of detail and thought put into its design. Some brands fail to walk the line between originality and reinvention but Monta has exercised much appreciated restraint.
The Triumph is a watch with a few tricks up its sleeve and the dial deals one of those cards. Despite being only 38mm it feels larger on the wrist. This illusion stems from the fact that nearly everything you see when you look at the Triumph is dial.
Its 32mm wide face is surrounded by 3mm of bezel on each side. This means that 84% of the watch looking up at you is dial. Compared to something like a Submariner, you’re seeing about 15% more dial. These proportions trick the eye into seeing something different.
The design of the dial itself is function forward. The 12, 3 and 9 o’clock positions are marked by large applied indices. The indices are polished and beveled (a design queue heavily played on the Triumph). The major indices and date aperture form a visual crosshair. They focus the eye on the center of the dial, moving out along the hands.
The broad sword shape hands are slightly convex and highly polished. This improves legibility and ensures that in low light you won’t miss the hands. It also adds flare to an otherwise flat dial.
Secondary markings are stamped on the flat black dial which has an interesting grainy texture. Under a loupe the writing is clear and precise. The lume is Superluminova which is very bring though not very long lasting.
In addition to the black dial variant, Monta offers the Triumph in blue, green and gray. Each of which have sunburst finishes. Monta has applied a single antireflective coating on the inside of the dial. This leaves no outer coating to worry about wearing, but means there’s a bit of glare in bright sun.
The dimensions of the case were one of the features which initially drove me to the watch. At 9mm thick, and with a flat crystal, the watch is and feels very thin. This makes it comfortable and unassuming. You won’t forget the watch is there but it isn’t screaming for attention either.
Monta isn’t shy about the amount of beveling they apply to their watches, and at times it might feel like a little much. Basically, any surface that could be beveled is - the case flanks, inner lugs, bezel, etc. I’m not a huge fan of this fact, but it’s possible to live with.
The case is a combination of brushed and polished finishes. The mix of finishes gives the Triumph a dressier feel and would allow you to wear it on more occasions if you so chose.
If Monta pulled any outside inspiration in creating the Triumph it shows in the bracelet. The bracelet, tapering from 20mm to 16mm, draws heavily from the Rolex Oyster design. Given it’s one of the most ubiquitous styles, equal parts functional and well balanced, I see this as a bonus. The inspiration probably isn’t a coincidence. Monta spent the last decade with Everest designing rubber straps for Rolex watches. There’s another added bonus here - many of the Rolex straps from Everest fit this watch.
As good as Everest’s straps are you might have a hard time finding time to wear one. The comfort and look of the Triumph on its bracelet meant for me it was often worn on metal.
The design fits well with the flow of the case and the construction is high quality. Tolerances are tight and there’s no rattle. The bracelet is about 3mm thick and is (again) beveled and polished along the edges down to the clasp. The safety clasp uses friction to secure itself and has standard micro-adjustments. The micro-adjustments will provide about 1.5 links in space when moved all the way in or out.
The availability of high quality rubber straps to fit to the Triumph is a huge bonus. Everest is regarded as one of the better makers of rubber straps. I’ve worn them on this watch and others and can attest to the quality. Putting the Triumph on a rubber strap transforms the watch into something less dressy and more sporty. I could be just as happy owning a Triumph with no bracelet, and only a rubber strap if I’m being honest.
The Triumph is powered by the Sellita SW300 workhorse. It holds a charge for 42 hours, and provides adequate accuracy. The finishing is standard, which you can see through the case back. The best feature of the movement by far is its slender profile. It’s because of this 3.6mm movement that Monta can achieve sub 10mm case thickness.
The tell for the Sellita is in the operation of the movement. The Triumph does have a quickset date function, but the combination of a small onion style crown and a high gear ratio combine to make the exercise of time setting tedious. One turn of the crown provides 15 minutes of increment or decrement to the minute hand. A 12 hour adjustment takes almost 50 turns of the crown.
At the time I bought the Triumph I opted for the black dial, not sure how the other colors might play out in real life. Today, I think the ultimate Triumph might be the grey variant with a sunburst dial. The dimensions of the dial, and the way it’s arranged leave a lot of open space. I think a splash of color would be just the right thing to add some life to the dial.
The Monta Triumph has gotten a fair bit of wear in the 5 months I’ve owned it. Its profile, price point, and comfort mean I can wear it without fear of damage or overthought.
The thinness of the case was one of the main selling points for me on the Triumph, and it makes it a pleasure to wear. Often times, when on a nato, thicker watches can become top heavy or distracting but that’s not the case here.
On a black Everest rubber strap the watch feels totally different. With its case dimensions and design as they are, on the black rubber strap you wouldn’t be wrong to dream of an Aquanaut. Overall the Triumph is a great bang for your buck, and a fun watch to wear from a great company.