Seven Minutes In Heaven: The Monta Atlas

Updated:

By: Michael Penate

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.

MONTA Watch
 

Featured Insights
 

• 38.5mm x 47mm x 10.2mm
• 150 Meters Water Resistance
• Screw down crown
• Sellita SW330 / MONTA M-23 Caliber
• 42-hour power reserve
• Sapphire crystal
• 3 Dials: Black, Lacquer White, or Lacquer Blue
• Swiss LumiNova BGw9
• Price: $1,795

5 thoughts on “Seven Minutes In Heaven: The Monta Atlas”

  1. For me, this would be the upper middle class dressy tool watch I’d want for work, date night, and just about everything else. Has a date window, sapphire crystal, plenty of brushed and and sand blasted finishes, a bracelet with four micro adjustment holes and tapers, fixed steel bezel, lume, thin enough to fit under a dress shirt, and under 40mm for my small wrists. The fact that the date window is at 6 and that it has a gmt function just puts it over the top for me and I would think you can wear it on just about any kind of strap out there. Essentially, I think it’s a great middle-high end candidate for the dressy tool watch/one watch.

    That being said, I sure as shit cannot afford spending $1,000+ on a watch let alone over $1700.

    But this got me thinking: What would be your suggestions for a poor man’s $500 and under dressy tool watch? I think for me a decent steel bracelet, size, and a fixed steel bezel are my three biggest factors (and yeah would like lume, a date window, sapphire glass, and not too many polished surfaces but not the biggest factors).

    I keep looking at the Lorier Falcon but mainly concerned with the crystal. Is it really that easy to polish out scratches from plexi or is that really just horseshit? I’m the kind of idiot who shines and polishes my work shoes and nice boots every so often and usually just iron my dress clothes myself instead of going to a dry cleaner (unless it’s something I have to take there), so the idea of maintenance doesn’t bother me. Buuuut, does it actually work? Also seems like the dome on the plexi puts the watch out to around 15mm, is that too big to fit under a dress shirt? At this point I just feel like a whiner, given the steel/green dial version sure looks amazing online, the proportions are likely perfect for me, love the date wheel at the 6, and the bracelet looks absolutely fantastic compared to everything else in my price range.

    Aside from the Falcon, all I can think of is the Seiko Sarb 033/035. However, since it’s discontinued I have no clue where is the best place to buy. Not sure how much to trust whether Amazon’s listing is really “new” and Long Island Watch looks really expensive. Guessing bidding on eBay for used ones is a good route but that sounds exhausting. But it appears the bracelet is okay with multiple micro adjustment holes and the proportions look good. Sure, the date dial is on the right but that’s fine glad it at least has one plus it’s sapphire crystal. If I am doing anything strenuous enough to shatter sapphire I’m wearing my shitty Casio anyway.

    This is my long ass way of asking for help on this. I would say sorry, but it’s your fault because your podcast got my broke ass into this stupid hobby. Kidding of course ….

    (Kind of.)

    Reply
    • I have a Lorier Neptune, fantastic watch, love it. But the domed crystal is tall and it won’t slide under a tight cuff. Yes, easy to buff out scratches with Polywatch. Great bracelet. And the Lorier crew are super nice people to boot. Almost regret buying the Neptune because the forthcoming bicompax chrono looks so amazing—you should check that out if you haven’t.

      Reply
    • Just looked up the lorier falcon. Seems very close to Seiko sarb033 or others in the series I believe they’re quite wellrespected. I think its also cheaper than the lorier.

      Reply
  2. Thanks for the great review of the Monta. I have liked the look of their finishing and style in pictures, but it is hard to appreciate good finishing just from photos so it is nice to read your description.

    Andrew, if you haven’t already seen them it might be worth looking at the Traska Summiteer (https://www.traskawatch.com/summiteer). My wife has their Freediver and the finishing is very good with a nice mix of mainly brushed surfaces and some polished highlights. It looks like the Summiteer has similar finishing and the same bracelet. The bracelet on my wife’s watch is also nicely finished with lots of micro adjustment positions, though the clasp is fairly thick. The Freediver is great quality for the price. However, these watches don’t have dates, which might rule them out for you.

    PS: My wife is also interested in the Lorier Falcon, the gold plated version with green dial might be a Christmas present.

    Reply
    • SMB – Thank you for the suggestion on the Traska Summitteer. I have actually seen it online, and although I would really want a date window, beggers can’t be choosers. (Granted yeah it’s the only real “tool” or “function” I legitimately would use on a day to day basis aside from from telling the time, I hate always having a phone on me, I already got my big fun dumb vacation no date showing watch in my white dialed Nodus Avalon, and … I digress.)

      Although the Summitteer would check my main boxes and I really really want to like it given the bracelet, the size, and how it appears to try and do the whole casual rugged Explorer thing … I am not sure it’s for me. I hate having to shop largely through social media pictures but to me it just looks a little too casual for the office and “plain.” It’s something that I would probably consider for just a weekend watch at most but I would want something I feel like I can wear comfortably with a blazer at least and not so sure that’s the case here. I also currently have the Skagen Holst with a white dial with a stepped down dial. Obviously not near the same watch, but just noticed over time that I’m not a real big fan of the stepped down dial on it. Don’t hate it, it just doesn’t do anything for me which again might be why I am viewing the Summitteer as just “plain.”

      Reply

Leave a Comment