Seven Minutes In Heaven: The Monta Atlas
By Michael Penate
It’s been a long time coming. Finally, after sitting on this for a bit, I’m ready to share some thoughts about the Monta Atlas GMT. Recently, work and life have managed to brutally pull me under—but when a great watch has to be written about, I do my best to share my review when I can. Monta is the product of a new era of microbrands pushing into uncharted territory with a controversial pivot toward four-digit price points. Naturally, it’s still the kind of thing that strikes a nerve for several of our value-conscious audience members. But if there’s one thing Monta has taught me, it’s that you really can’t pass final judgment until testing things out in person. Truthfully, I became a huge fan after spending time with it. And while brief, we’re taking this opportunity to introduce a new segment of quick, to-the-point watch evaluations titled, Seven Minutes in Heaven. Let’s get into it.
Think of the Monta Atlas as the anti-GMT, GMT. It makes no attempt at representing a romanticized piece of pilot kit, and doesn’t lean on the strategy of wooing armchair aviators into an ill-informed, impulse buy. Instead, we get a watch that tells you the time and tosses in a second time zone as a bonus—that’s really it. But it does this in what it is perhaps the cleanest way possible with some of the best levels of fit and finish you’ll find in today’s microbrand space. Inevitably, I found myself forced to break away from my GMT predilections and focus on what the Atlas was, instead of what I wanted it to be.
The Monta Atlas is 38.5mm wide, 10.2mm thick, and 47mm lug to lug. It takes the field watch vibes you’d get with the Monta Triumph and mixes them up with travel-ready functionality that will work for anyone from hardcore enthusiasts to casual watch buyers breaking that four-digit range. On-wrist, the proportions wear well and while I may be screaming into a personalized echo chamber, I love that Monta decided to keep everything within the sub-40mm confines. I’ve talked to guys with serious tree trunk wrists, and even they agree that the Atlas and Triumph models work for them.
Another stand-out feature on the Atlas—and all Monta watches—is the clasp. I don’t know much about the patent or processes behind it, but it’s the closest you’ll get to the fit, finish, and performance of a six-digit reference Rolex clasp at this price point. Action is proud, solid, and secure—with a beautifully engraved Monta logo to spice things up. It’s still an area I feel many brands overlook and I often refer to this as the golden standard for clasp construction outside of the Rolex family.
If you’re a water resistance nerd, just know that it sports 150m (500ft) of water resistance… plenty. This feature is accompanied by a screw-down crown and a robust case and bracelet structure featuring a variety of brushed and polished surfaces. Pair that with a beautifully symmetrical dial clearly displaying two time zones, and you have one of the coolest packages available well under $2,000. Oh, and even though I’ve been traumatized by misaligned Sellita SW330 movements in the past, this one (with -5/+5 second a day regulation) hums along without issue. But truth be told, it’s ugly as hell, mostly unfinished, and undeserving of the exhibition caseback it gets—really my only issue with this watch.
Ultimately I’d say that the Monta Atlas was a huge challenge for me. I spend way too much time fantasizing about 1675s, original Glycine Airman models, and Bulova Astronauts. Sure, they pull us back to a certain “golden age” of badasses wearing cool watches, but I’d personally love to see someone rocking an Atlas for the rest of his/her own life and imprinting every bit of adventure and experience on its stoic, brushed utilitarian case. It’s no GMT Master II, but holy shit. Even after sitting on this review for months, I still find myself thinking that the Monta Atlas can be my final “flyer,” no matter what.
The Monta Atlas GMT retails for $1,795 on the stainless steel bracelet and you can learn more by visiting Monta’s official site.
• 150 Meters Water Resistance
• Screw down crown
• Sellita SW330 / MONTA M-23 Caliber
• 42-hour power reserve
• 3 Dials: Black, Lacquer White, or Lacquer Blue
• Swiss LumiNova BGw9
• Price: $1,795
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.