In the world of micro and independent watch brands, there are a few that have positioned themselves in the perhaps controversial and hard-to-define category of “affordable luxury”–a brand that makes very high quality watches that do not cost what a Rolex or Tudor cost. But at the same time, these brands give the wearer as much as pleasure sporting this type of watch as a $10,000 Swiss luxury watch would. At least, that’s what I imagine. This niche of the independent watch market is occupied by brands such as MONTA, Christopher Ward, and Sinn—depending what genre of watch you are into the most.
Today we’re going to take a look at the MONTA Triumph, an elegant and robust everyday timepiece that is endowed with strong field watch vibes. However, we mustn’t be deceived by the Triumph’s full Arabic hour markers and large date aperture. This watch can actually do it all thanks to its modest proportions and mix of good looks and high legibility. As it is often the case, the Triumph must be experienced in the metal rather than in photos only to truly get a sense of what it is all about. And I will do my best to describe the watch in detail and to highlight particular points of interest later in the corresponding category.
The Triumph—and all MONTA models for that matter—comes with the reasonable proportions of a modern field watch: a case diameter of 38.5mm, a lug-to-lug distance of 47mm, a case thickness of an impressive 9.7mm, and a lug width of 20mm. Despite its thinness, the Triumph boasts 150 meters of water resistance thanks to its screw-down crown and case-back. The case design is such that the watch sits flat on the wrist and feels like its natural place is…on mine. Indeed, it looks at home on my 6.25” (16cm) wrist and I know it would look equally good on other wrist sizes.
Inside the slender case beats the MONTA Caliber M-22, based on a Sellita SW200 caliber. The modified movement includes, amongst other things, a customized rotor that can be admired thanks to a sapphire see-through case-back. It’s quite impressive that MONTA was able to put a double sapphire construction and 150 meters in a watch that measures less than 10mm in thickness. That’s why I would never be able to design a watch as I imagine a lot of time and effort went into designing and engineering the Triumph. That’s why I’ll stick to writing about watches.
From a visual standpoint, the Triumph comes with a rather unusual dial layout. Full Arabic hour markers with the ones at 3 and 9 positions printed in a larger font, matching the larger and multi-faceted applied markers at the cardinal points (except for the 6 o’clock where we can find a beautifully framed date aperture). All hour markers, whether applied or painted, are slightly recessed inside the rehaut á la Tudor Pelagos. The fine polishing on the applied markers is echoed on the sword hands that are diamond cut and rhodium plated to prevent tarnishing and oxidation.
The more luxurious aspect of the Triumph comes from its fine finishing and the subtle transitions between brushed and polished surfaces. Polished surfaces can be found on the chamfers running along the case sides, the inner part of the lugs (that match the polished chamfers on the outer bracelet links), as well as the bottom section of the fixed bezel. Brushed surfaces can be found everywhere else and are most prominent on the bezel and top of the lugs. The brushing is echoed on the dial’s finish: a very fine sunburst effect that radiates outward.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
47mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Screwed Dow Crown & Caseback
150m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Sapphire Crystal|
Mix of Applied & Painted Markers
BGW9 Super-LumiNova on Hands & Markers
|Movement||Monta M-22 (SW200 Base)|
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Steel Bracelet /w Milled Clasp|
& Quick Adjust
Last year I interviewed Michael DiMartini, MONTA’s co-founder, to talk about many things including the history of the brand. I was surprised to hear that the Triumph was not the brand’s first model, but its second. I was surprised because, like many other watch enthusiasts, I’d discovered MONTA through the Triumph. But the brand’s first model was the OceanKing, now retired from the brand’s catalog. I believe the success of the Triumph stems from the fact that it looks like nothing else on the market. And this fact is as true today as it was several years ago. Here I am referring to the blend of legibility that is stereotypical of field watches and the fine finishing that is typical of dressier timepieces.
Of great interest to me is also the three-link bracelet. The brand advertises it as being the most comfortable stainless steel bracelet on the planet. And while I cannot verify that claim, I can tell you it’s a neat piece of engineering. The bracelet links are thin and articulate easily and joyfully, the clasp is equipped with a proprietary on-the-fly micro-adjustment system, and the bracelet tapers dramatically to what seems to be a narrow 16mm at the clasp. The bracelet also comes with screws to add/remove links (always a plus!) and polished chamfers on the outer links. And yes, it has female end links to ensure proper draping around the wrist.
The fact that a bracelet can drape around the wrist is something that we, the ultimate watch nerds, definitely rave about!
To me, the fact that MONTA spent so much time and energy designing such a nice bracelet attests to the brand’s dedication to making exceptional watches. Coming in at $1,728, the Triumph has a fit and finish that rivals that of luxury Swiss and Japanese brands. Although I haven’t gotten my French hands on many luxury brands, I have extended experience handling watches from independent ones at price points that exist within a range of $100 to $3,000. And the Triumph excels in providing the perfect balance between practicality and refinement. At least, that’s my personal opinion. Don’t take my word for it.
I do have one weird quibble about the Triumph. And that is the fact that the dial design seems to sit too much in-between two genres of watches. On one hand, the high-polish applied markers and diamond-cut hands scream luxury and elegance. On the other hand, the Arabic numerals and painted markers remind me of a modern interpretation of a WWII-era field watch. When I first saw the Triumph in the metal, I was a little confused but the weirdness and uniqueness of the design eventually won me over. I realized that I’m not as boring as I initially thought I was, and although this might not be to everyone’s taste, I do like a bit of contradiction in watch design.
While many journalists like myself and influencers routinely complain about the fact that Swiss luxury timepieces are hard to get—either because they cost as much as a round-trip in a space rocket or because they are just simply not available—MONTA always has inventory and its collections generally retail for less than $2,000. Given the specifications, fit and finish of the Triumph, you get a lot of watch for your money. And we are always looking for good value horology which can mean many things, and sometimes it means being able to buy a watch that can last a lifetime and that doesn’t cost you more than $2,000. That’s pretty neat.
For more information on the Triumph, please visit the brand website.
Vincent Deschamps is a museum professional, originally from France, with more than 10 years experience as a researcher, producing visitor experiences for national and international organizations. He is also the founder of mainspring.watch. You can follow Vincent on Instagram.
Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.