Over the past few years, various microbrands have started pushing into a higher market segment. With watch buyers demanding higher levels of finishing, complications, and premium features, there is a need to be filled. One could argue that no microbrand has done it more effectively than Monta. All of their watches start over $1000, which often pushes them out of the affordable category that a majority of microbrands fall into.
I reviewed the Monta Oceanking earlier this year and was impressed with the watch, both in terms of its design and overall execution. At Baselworld 2019, Monta unveiled their next watch, the Atlas. The Atlas aims to break into the extremely popular GMT segment. Does lightning strike twice with Monta? Let’s find out.
If you are familiar with Monta and their lineup prior to the Atlas, you may recognize some of the elements of the watch. Monta uses some common themes across their watches, like their sword hands and bracelets. The Atlas shares some common traits with the Triumph with a few small changes. The Atlas’ case is 38.5mm in diameter and only 10.2mm in height. This case is like that of the Triumph with some changes made to the bezel. This is a good thing as the Triumph is one of the most comfortable watches I’ve ever tried on.
While the dial also contains some similarities to the Triumph, it has a soul of its own. The charcoal gray sunburst dial is fitted with applied rectangle markers at each position. The 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock markers are elongated and the 12 o’clock marker tapers inward toward the center of the dial. Each marker is filled with Swiss LumiNova BG W9. Each marker is also polished and beveled, which makes them stand out from the dial at various angles.
The Monta name and logo are printed at 12 o’clock. Atlas is printed in a contrasting color at 6 o’clock with GMT-150m printed below. As with each Monta, Swiss Made is also printed at the bottom of the dial.
The way Monta decided to integrate the 24-hour scale for the GMT readout is clever and well executed. Instead of utilizing a bezel or printing on the dial itself for the 24-hour scale, it is printed on the chapter ring. Because of the way the chapter ring is angled, the text is unobtrusive and blends in without becoming hard to read when you check the time. The odd number hours are printed, and a contrasting color hash mark is between those numerals. This is an effective way to implement the 24-hour scale and does not add any thickness to the watch as a 24-hour bezel might.
As I mentioned before, the Atlas uses Monta’s signature sword hands for the hour and minute hand. They are lume-filled and beveled on the polished areas that play with the light in the same way the indices do. The seconds hand has a diamond-shaped pointer which is lume-filled. The GMT hand sits close to the dial before having a kink toward to the end of the hand which elevates the accented pointer. Monta utilized this same hand on the Skyquest GMT and I was a fan of that then and still am now on the Atlas.
The lume application on the dial and hands is all applied with a heavy hand as it glows brightly with plenty of longevity. As this is all BG W9, it will have an icy-blue glow.
Case & Bracelet
Monta excels at case and bracelet finishing; there is no doubt about it. Combining polishing, brushing, and sandblasting gives the case of the Atlas a striking appearance. As you wear the Atlas and check the time, the various surfaces all reflect light differently and make it a joy to stare at —something I found myself doing often.
The fixed bezel is brushed in a sunburst pattern with a polished bevel edge as it moves toward the body of the case. The body of the Atlas is where Monta’s finishing truly shines. The brushing on the case is executed flawlessly with polished bevels on various areas of the case. A polished edge runs along on the top edge of the case and extends down the outside of the lugs. An inner lug bevel is also polished, which gives a unique look to the bracelet as it joins the case.
The bevels and various finishing techniques don’t stop at the case. The bracelet of the Atlas also contains these techniques as well. Each link on the bracelet has a polished beveled edge. Combined with the excellent brushing, the bracelet looks spectacular on-wrist. The bracelet has a nice heft to it and with the fully articulating links, it is comfortable on the wrist.
An exhibition caseback on the Atlas allows the wearer to see the Sellita SW-330 movement, which is fitted with a custom rotor that has the Monta logo engraved on it. It’s nice to see Monta continue using Sellita top-grade movements. For those familiar with the ETA 2893, the Sellita will feel similar in its use. The first crown position will change the GMT hand and date wheel. The second position adjusts the time.
The screw-down crown of the Atlas is not too big but is just a tad too small for my fingers. Because of the tapered shape of the crown, it can be hard to grip at times. However, this is made up for by having a winding action smoother than a fresh jar of peanut butter. The crown is also signed with Monta’s logo.
The clasp of the bracelet is long and uses a flip-lock clasp with Monta’s logo. The clasp has 4 micro-adjust holes which is ample for most. I would like to see Monta put the fantastic quick-adjust clasp from the Oceanking on their other watches including the Atlas. It is something I often see as a request on many other watches and manufacturers are starting to include them on more watches. Considering that Monta’s is proprietary and their bracelets are all similar, I think it makes sense to include it.
On my 6.75” wrist, the Atlas fits perfectly and should sit well on a variety of wrist sizes. The 38.5mm case is complemented with a 47.5mm lug-to-lug distance which adds a tad more wrist presence to the Atlas.
Because of the thinness of the case, the Atlas will easily slide under your shirt cuff. All the proportions combined create a well-fitting watch that you can often forget you are wearing.
The guys from Monta have a background in premium straps, specifically Everest straps. This gives an indication as to why the bracelet is so comfortable. If you so choose when ordering your Atlas, you can select fitted leather and rubber straps instead of or in addition to the bracelet. While I did not have the opportunity to try out these straps on the Atlas, they should provide a good level of comfort.
When I reviewed the Oceanking, I remarked at how Monta was able to create a watch that was so well executed at a price that really wasn’t that outrageous for the package you get from them. That statement is even more true with the Atlas.
There is a level of consistency that is present across Monta’s releases and as a watch buyer myself, it gives me a good idea of what to expect from Monta. When the Atlas arrived for review, I already had a good idea of what I would be seeing in terms of finishing and design. This makes the purchasing process from Monta a breeze from a buyer’s perspective. If you have seen any of Monta’s watches in person, you should feel comfortable placing an order for the Atlas.
The Atlas is Monta’s second GMT (the Skyquest being the first) and although there is this consistency between their pieces, the two couldn’t be more different. The Atlas is understated and presents a certain level of classiness for a GMT. Most people looking at the Atlas on the wearer’s wrist would have no idea that it is a GMT without inspecting it closer. However, the wearer will quickly and easily be able to track two time zones at a glance and will look like a million bucks while doing it.
|Lug-to-lug Height||47.5mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Water Resistance||150 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® BG W9|
More Images of the Monta Atlas
Check out the Monta website