Watchmakers who want to establish themselves in the adventure category usually take one of two routes.
Hit up an influencer in activewear for some redundant hashtags, or send their latest smart watch hurtling into a pile of jagged rocks with a mountain biker attached. This particular mountain biker.
Uncovering A Hidden Message
Long before this sweet marriage between my face, the gravel, blood and profanity, there was Montblanc – a purveyor of luxury goods with genuine roots seeped in the spirit of exploration.
Take their unique logo for example. Most wouldn’t know that Montblanc’s signature six-pointed white snowcap logo is actually a top view of Mont Blanc mountain, the title-holder for the highest mountain in the European Alps.
This symbol along with the recurring ‘4810’ number on Montblanc’s creations is an identity which represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship backed by an ambition to hit new heights of innovation. It’s also a sneaky nod to the mountain’s 4,810 metre height.
Whilst we don’t have a cruisey five kilometre mountain to climb here in Australia, we do have helicopters and a secret resort which sits 1,100 metres above sea level. Close enough.
Our little excursion into the Queensland wilderness provided us with the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Montblanc’s latest timepieces. But before we get to that…
Luxury Amongst The Clouds
Spicers Peak Lodge sounds like a nice spot where amateur campers go to roast pine cones and get attacked by bears. It is not. They don’t do pine cones here and the bears are dressed as majestic cows grazing away their best days against the backdrop of a World Heritage Listed national park.
With our immediate concerns foiled, Montblanc helicoptered a small group of us along with their latest watch collection to the secluded location far from the pressures of civilisation (and any viable source of cigarettes, apparently).
This was an adventure to showcase a name that’s been driven by curiosity and innovation for 112 years. The connection between Montblanc and Spicers Peak Lodge? A synergy of luxury, attention to detail, innovation and new heights between the two names.
Needless to say the accommodation provided a level of service that would rival most metropolitan luxury boutique hotels – no small feat considering the staff have to reside on site just to keep the place running. What that means for you and your guests is relaxation, exploration via trail or mountain biking, fine dining, whisky tasting and personal services like massages should you require it.
It’s one of the least likely locations you’d find this level of service but if you can find a vending machine on a mountain then this shouldn’t surprise you. More importantly, the natural landscape of Spicers Peak Lodge made for a unique backdrop to take in some vintage timepieces as well as the German luxury name’s leather goods and writing instruments.
Montblanc Summit: The Unbreakable Smart Watch
To say that we took this watch for a spin is an understatement – it was more of a violent collision course. With Montblanc’s first ever smart watch wrapped around my wrist for a proper mountain biking session, it was quickly subjected to all sorts of conditions a mechanical watch would simply crumble under.
Cold weather, insane shock, dirt, water, perspiration. It took it all in, happily chimed along and told the time with an easy tap of the bright 1.39-inch AMOLED screen. Legibility wasn’t an issue at all throughout the day and we barely noticed the weight on the wrist considering its 46mm case size.
And then we gave the Montblanc Summit it’s biggest test run. Little note to novice mountain bikers: When traversing down a steep hill at speed littered with gravel and protruding boulders twice the size of your head, don’t confuse your rear brakes with your fronts. Left clutch – front. Right clutch – rear.
This 90s BMX kid chose incorrectly and found himself hurtling over the handlebars towards the terrain after making a gnarly jump. The compression pants were destroyed, the knees were bloody, the face was bloody, the lip slightly busted.
“Am I bleeding?” was the first words uttered to our guide. His reply was “Oh…um, drink this, spit it out.”
Comforting guy. We continued to complete our trek with the watch astonishingly unscathed and in full working order. It was a minor excursion which showcased Montblanc’s ability to not just craft fine luxury products, but also modern ones designed to take on your greatest (mis) adventures.
The Summit runs on Android Wear 2.0 custom built for smart watches. This allows for a host of features like a world timer with 24 time zones, built-in heart rate monitor, a running tracking app and nifty travel problem solvers like google Assistant, Foursquare, Uber and a voice-activated translator. It also plays your tunes via Bluetooth connectivity should you need to drown out the world.
On the aesthetic front the Summit evokes classic good looks thanks to its design DNA borrowed from Montblanc’s 1858 collection. This can be seen in a curved sapphire crystal which makes its way onto a smart watch for the first time ever. It’s by no means delicate though. The watch is housed in a robust stainless steel and titanium case which is one of the defining reasons why its face held up better than ours.
The demand for personalisation is also met with Montblanc offering four different cases and eight different straps alongside a plethora of watch faces to create more than 300 style combinations for picky wearers.
Not a bad proposition for a luxury vintage watchmaker looking to conquer new heights in the digital world.