Momentum Watches, based out of Vancouver, Canada, has a catalog of watches that I never knew existed. I’m not sure how a brand this large passed me by for so long. Everything from pilot to dive watches is covered under Momentum’s offerings, but their new field watch, the Atlas is the watch that turned me on to them. An all-titanium field watch on a bracelet with a Miyota 9015 for around $500 is hard to ignore. Add in the fact that is 38mm wide and only 11.5mm thick and we may have a winner on our hands. Let’s jump in and find out.
On the Wrist
It should come as no surprise that a watch with the dimensions mentioned above would be fantastic on the wrist. That isn’t to say that you can’t fumble the execution. Smaller diameter watches with short lug-to-lug measurements (43mm in the case of the Atlas) can feel stumpy on the wrist. The Atlas negotiates through this problem with lugs that turndown and fall below the caseback. This negates the watch popping off the wrist and allows the lugs to hit the wrist instead of floating above it.
Field watches are designed to be legible. Their design ethos usually consists of bold, Arabic numerals, a simple handset, and a clutter-free dial. Some field watches add in elements like a 24-hour time track or 5-minute interval marks, which are omitted from the Atlas. This keeps the dial extremely clean and minimal. The Atlas is easy to read at a glance, but I wish Momentum had opted for a flat sapphire instead of a domed sapphire. There is a little too much distortion and glare for my liking. With that said, it is a small issue, and the watch is still perfectly readable at most angles.
The Atlas I reviewed came with both a bracelet and a rubber strap. I always recommend buying on the bracelet and I will discuss the bracelet in further detail below, but the rubber strap should be a definite add-on if you purchase this watch. It dresses down the watch, coordinates perfectly with the dial, and is more comfortable than the bracelet. It also has another trick up its sleeve, which I’ll reveal below. And just for kicks, Momentum made it one of those rubber straps that smells really good.
Momentum Atlas Specs
85g (sized on bracelet)
You would be forgiven if you mistook the Atlas for a pilot watch. It has all the telltale signs of one with the large numerals, the triangle at 12 o’clock, and the style of hands. Where the Atlas makes a separation from pilot watches comes from the size, at 38mm, and where Momentum is located. Vancouver lies near the waters of the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the North Shore Mountains. This led Momentum to craft a watch that fits into the style of the city they hail from. Instead of planes and jet-setting, the Atlas is designed to hit the hiking trails.
The handset is baton-style and resembles the IWC Mark XVIII’s handset. I’ve always loved this handset; for some reason, the arrow-tipped minute hand and squared-off hour hand look like an awesome combo.
The Arabic numerals, despite being painted on, pop off the black dial. The dial looks like your run-of-the-mill matte black dial at first glance, but it has a subtle sunburst or gradient effect to it. It’s a great way to introduce a little style without losing any of the utilitarian vibes the Atlas is going for.
Case, Strap, and Bracelet
My only gripe with matte titanium cases is that there isn’t much to talk about from a review standpoint. That isn’t and can’t be a knock against the watch. What I can say is that the case construction is executed well. The case (apart from the caseback) is a single piece of titanium, which gives the transition from the bezel to the midcase a seamless look.
Titanium cases can run the risk of feeling dainty on the wrist, especially in smaller diameters like the Atlas. While I can’t say the Atlas is heavy by any means, after all, it is designed not to be, it has just the right amount of heft to it. The crown guards extend just below the bottom of the crown’s diameter, which can make it feel a little sharp when unwinding. However, I never had any issues winding and unwinding the crown.
The Atlas feels balanced on the right no matter what you have it mounted on. Although the strap has no taper, this helps keep the Atlas from feeling top-heavy. You need a little bit of weight, but not too much to keep it from feeling unbalanced while being worn. One thing that I thought was clever about the strap is that the holes are not punched all the way through. When you put on the strap for the first time, you find which hole will work for your wrist size (they are partially exposed on the back of the strap), and then punch it through the rest of the way. This keeps the strap looking clean and this is something I wish more strap manufacturers would do where it is appropriate.
The bracelet is where I feel the Atlas is lacking. It’s not a bad bracelet by any means, it just happens that it carries a couple of pet peeves of mine that may or may not matter to you. The male endlinks needless extend the perceived lug-to-lug of the Atlas and create an awkward look. It would be an entirely different-looking watch on the bracelet with female endlinks. The clasp is stamped and feels somewhat fragile given how light it is because of the titanium construction. Perhaps it is stamped to keep the watch head balanced, but I still think a fully milled clasp would be an excellent finishing touch to the bracelet.
Although I said to always buy on the bracelet you can save a couple of bucks and make the Atlas is under $500 on the great rubber strap. That is a hard deal to pass up especially considering a titanium Hamilton Khaki Field is almost double the price. The only thing the Khaki Field offers over the Atlas is a longer power reserve (but at the cost of a reduced beat rate). Power Reserve isn’t worth $400.
The Atlas is the perfect entry point into Momentum’s watches. It has certainly made me more curious about what their other offerings are like and if the Atlas is any indication, it will be full of wonderful surprises.
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