There are certain watches that, when you first see them, just stop you in your tracks. Something about the way they look grabs your attention and won’t let go. And even if you move on to continue exploring what other watches are out there, they bring you back. For me, the Monta Triumph was one of those watches.
If you’re reading this review, you probably already know a little about Monta watches. But for those who don’t, Monta is a relatively young American watch brand based in St. Louis, Missouri that produces high quality Swiss made watches. The company is owned by people who love watches and appreciate great craftsmanship, and it shows. In 2016, when Monta was first trying to establish itself, the Triumph was the watch that helped get the brand onto its feet.
This a review after one year of ownership of the first generation Triumph. Monta revised the Triumph ever so slightly in mid 2020, but changed very little about the watch. One notable difference is in the black dial: the first generation spelled out “Triumph” in white. The second generation writes it in red lettering. And the bezel is ever so slightly thicker on the newest model. Other than that, the watch I own is nearly the same as the watch that Monta sells today.
A field watch with its own style
The Monta Triumph is a field watch. But its field watch designation didn’t really occur to me initially. I think what first drew me to the Triumph was its fairly unique, somewhat aggressive sports watch style. From the wide, steel bezel to the wide, diamond-cut sword hands to the thick lugs and the combination of stick markers and numbers on the dial, there is an unapologetic boldness to the watch that demands to be noticed. Yet it’s remarkably thin at 9.6mm by my measurement (Monta lists the second generation at 9.7mm), with a tapered bracelet and polished edges that provide a certain elegance to the whole design. I’m not sure how you define “luxury”, but to me, this feels like a luxury watch.
A dial with details
Like other field watches, the design of the Triumph focuses on easy legibility. The dial features both printed numeric indices and stick markers painted on with BGW9 Super-LumiNova. There are larger applied markers at 3, 9, and 12 with nicely polished beveled edges. A polished frame surrounds the date window at 6 o’clock as well. The color-matched date wheel is a nice touch as well. So is the rehaut, which indents at each hour marker, adding an additional dimension to the dial. And a flat inner-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal further helps with the legibility while adding durability.
Reading through commentary online, there have been a few complaints about the larger numeric 3 and 9 on the dial. There have even been complaints about dial including numbers at all. Those critics are missing the point of the field watch design aspect entirely. The numbers make this a field watch, and what helps make the dial so easily legible at a glance. And the large 3 and 9 complement the bolder applied indices at those hours as well. Tastes vary, of course, and to each his or her own. Monta has since released additional models that deliver simpler, numeral-free dials, such as the Atlas GMT and the dressier Monta Noble.
A captivating handset
I find the handset to be one of the most remarkable details on the watch. The Triumph features broadsword hour and minute hands and a spear-tipped seconds hand. Very nicely finished with broad, polished edges, they really catch the light and grab attention. The polished edges of the hands complement the other polished edges and angles on the dial. Looking at the sharp edges of those hands, you can just imagine them slicing through time as they make their way around the dial. The same is true for the second hand, with its diamond-shaped spear tip. It’s a joy to watch it count off the seconds, and easy to spend moments just watching its smooth 28,800 bpm sweep around the dial’s edge.
What they say about the case is true
Much has been said about the impressive level of finishing of Monta watches—in reviews, on podcasts, and on forums and blog posts around the web. But it bears repeating: the finishing on Monta is extremely well done, and not just for the price point. Or for a “microbrand”. The lugs and case sides are brushed to a smooth, satiny finish. No rough spots here. And the polished chamfered edges catch the light and add another touch of sophistication. The most obviously textured surface is the radially brushed bezel, which adds some additional character and ruggedness to the watch. The brushing also provides the practical benefit of helping hide any minor scratches that a watch like this could—and should—pick up in a lifetime of wear.
And that case is thin, exceptionally thin. The case plus the flat sapphire crystal is only around 9.6mm thick by my measurement. The case design is very simple, with straight sides and thick lugs. Paired with the 38.5mm wide case, those hefty lugs seem to square off the watch, giving it more of a rectangular look. But not entirely rectangular. The wide, brushed bezel creates a distinctly circular appearance for the watch when you focus on parts that draw the most attention: the bezel and dial. Overall, the watch is a mixture of contrasts: thin body, wide lugs. Relatively narrow 38.5mm case, wide bezel. But when combined, these features offset each other in some ways and complement one another in others.
Other case design details include an exhibition case back with a distinct twelve-sided dodecagon shaped edge. The caseback window shows off the modestly decorated rotor on the Monta Caliber M-22 movement, a modified Sellita SW300-1. And the large, onion-shaped screw-down crown is engraved with the Monta logo. Not only is the large crown make it easy to use, but it also provides another interesting visual feature to the watch.
The bracelet…and the clasp
Many other reviewers have commended Monta bracelets as extremely comfortable, even as some of the best available. Frankly, Monta themselves even say as much on their site. The fully articulating bracelet is thin and extremely comfortable. It has a fold-over locking clasp for added security that’s signed with the Monta logo. The new generation has a quick-adjust feature for fine-tuning the fit on the go. But this first generation does not. The clasp is milled and polished and signed with the Monta logo on the inside—another small attention to detail that earns Monta a few more points in the finishing department. And it tapers quite a bit, from the 20mm lugs to 16mm at the clasp, adding to the comfort and giving the whole watch a more elegant feel on the wrist.
If I had any complaints, the chief issue would be with the clasp. It’s long and doesn’t sit quite flat on the underside of my 6.5” wrist. It’s an issue I haven’t encountered on any other bracelet. More expensive watches, including the Tudor Black Bay 58, Rolex Oyster Perpetual, and the Omega Speedmaster Racing, as well as less expensive Seiko, Orient, and Tissot bracelets all include a shorter clasp mechanism. It’s probably not an issue on a large wrist, but on a smaller wrist, you may end up with an odd, even awkward angle to the clasp as it sits on your arm.
That doesn’t mean it’s still not a fantastic bracelet. And luckily, the versatile Monta Triumph looks great on a wide variety of strap types, from leather to rubber to Natos. The term “strap monster” comes to mind, especially with its 20mm lug width. The Triumph is available from Monta with a variety of strap options, or you could get it on the bracelet to start and then try out additional straps later. Because it’s so thin it works really well on a Nato, and even better on a single-pass. It goes great on rubber or silicone, like a Barton Elite Silicone strap. Just about any color would work. And with its field watch styling, the Triumph is a natural on leather bands, too.
It’s a Monta
Monta first started producing the Triumph in 2017. It was the model that truly planted the company on stable ground. And the design language established in the earlier days of the brand still defines the look of their watches today (though granted, those early days weren’t that long ago). From the shape of those thick lugs to the polishing on the diamond cut hands, the style is distinctly “Monta”. And strapping on the Triumph is a great way to experience that style.
Final thoughts after a year of ownership
Overall, the Monta Triumph is pretty close to a go-anywhere, do-anything watch. It will meet its limit on the dressier end at a certain point, though in most professional environments these days it would work just fine. From jeans and a t-shirt to an oxford and sports jacket, it will feel right at home. It’s thin enough to slide under a shirt cuff. But on the sportier end of the spectrum, the Triumph really excels. Its 150m of water resistance and screw-down crown means you can easily swim or snorkel in it. And the sapphire crystal and 316L stainless steel case with its brushed surfaces and bezel can take a knock or two without causing too much worry.
What would I change? Not a lot and most of that comes down to personal preference. I’d make the lugs a little less beefy and taper them toward the bracelet more. Though I realize those lugs are a big part of the signature look of the brand in its current lineup. And I’d really like to see applied indices instead of printed markers at each hour. That would step the styling of the dial up another notch.
And finally, I’d change the clasp entirely. Make it shorter, and curve it more to fit better a smaller wrist like mine. Honestly, that’s the most significant knock I have against the watch. The clasp is comfortable, but I know that it could visually fit the underside of my wrist so much better. It’s one of those things that nags at me, and I wish that it just wasn’t an issue.
But, wishlist and long clasps aside, the Monta Triumph is really a fantastic watch. I’m still as taken with it as the first time I saw a photo of one. It’s a watch I really enjoy wearing the heck out of, and I can’t imagine tiring of looking down at that dial. And especially those hands.
Should I get a Monta Triumph?
So, who would I recommend the Monta Triumph to? It’s an excellent choice for someone looking for a field watch style that’s a few steps above a traditional option like the Hamilton Khaki Field. Someone who wants the feel and finish of a luxury timepiece while staying well under the $2000 price point. Someone who wants a daily wear watch that stands out with its distinctive style and lesser-known—but well-respected by those in the know—brand name.
And it’s a great choice for anyone who would appreciate a Swiss-made timepiece from an independent American company that’s truly building a name for itself in the watchmaking world.
See the current generation of the Monta Triumph in three colorways, as well as all the watch models in Monta’s lineup, at montawatch.com.