Formally known as MILÉNEAL, Montage is a watch label best known for offering beautiful dress watches at an affordable price point. Their latest offering is the Prestige, a series of automatic dress watches with fume dials. Let’s see if they are any good!
Montage – the Brand
Previously named as MILÉNEAL, Montage “…create timepieces that are of flavorful combination between Vintage & Contemporary.” Just like how the word ‘montage’ has the meaning of piecing together separate sections and fragments to create a whole new composite, Montage seeks to put together different quality parts to make a complete timepiece that is meant to complement your style.
Montage first came across my radar when they released the Classic. It was quartz, and bore more than a passing resemblance to the minimalist watches that were flooding the market then. I did think that it was well-priced though, but ultimately it wasn’t something I, as a watch enthusiast, was interested in. That changed when Montage released the Prestige, a Miyota 9015 powered beauty with a fume dial reminiscent of Moser watches at a fraction of the price. I reached out to the brand for one to review, and they kindly obliged.
Without any further ado, let’s delve into the review!
Montage Prestige – Build Quality
For its price, I must say that the Montage Prestige has spectacular specifications.
Firstly, the Montage Prestige uses an anti-scratch K1 domed crystal. At this price point, I’m satisfied with the hardened K1 crystal, which is still significantly more scratch-resistant than the mineral crystals we use most fashion watches at this price point (Daniel Wellington, Fossil, MVMT, etc) use. It’s not as durable as sapphire, but I understand Montage’s decision to opt for the domed K1 crystal, which is reminiscent of the domed plexiglass of vintage dress watches. In addition, the Montage Prestige has a water resistance rating of 50M, which is fairly decent for a dress watch.
Despite its low price tag, Montage has somehow managed to offer a Miyota 9015 movement in the Prestige. That’s downright impressive, especially considering the fact that most microbrands at this ~$200 USD price point use the cheaper Miyota 8 series/Seiko NH35 movement, whilst most fashion watch brands simply use a Seiko/Miyota quartz movement. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the Montage Prestige is the most affordable watch to use the Miyota 9015 movement. For some context, the Miyota 9015 movement is the brand’s higher grade of movements, generally seen as the Japanese alternative to the Swiss ETA 2824. It has a high beat rate of 4Hz (same as the ETA 2824), 42 hours of hour reserve, 24 Jewels, and features hacking seconds. The high beat rate translates to a smoother sweep of the second hand, which is a treat to the eye. If you would like to know more about the movement, A Blog to Watch did an in-depth article about the Miyota 9000 series here.
In the strap department, the Montage Prestige continues to punch well above its price point. Whilst most watches at this price point use only genuine leather straps, the Prestige comes default with a top-grain leather strap that should patina over time. For those uninitiated with leather, leather generally comes in three tiers – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending level of quality. Furthermore, there’s also a deployant buckle included, something that’s generally only seen in (much) more expensive dress watches such as the Cartier Tank. Lastly, the strap comes with quick release spring bars as well so you can quickly swap out the leather strap if necessary!
Overall, I’m really impressed with the build quality of the Montage Prestige. As aforementioned, I don’t think you can find a watch with the Miyota 9015 movement for cheaper. It also comes with a strap that belies the watch’s affordable price tag. Whilst I would have loved for Montage to use a double-domed sapphire crystal on the Prestige, they probably couldn’t have done so without substantially increasing the price. I’m guessing that the brand had to make a trade-off of having a lower grade crystal for a higher quality movement, and in my opinion, that’s the right choice – I’ll take a Miyota 9015 with a K1 crystal over a Seiko NH35 with sapphire crystal any day!
Montage Prestige – Design
While its usage of the Miyota 9015 movement is impressive, the most attractive aspect of the Montage Prestige is definitely its gorgeous fume dial.
I’m absolutely in love with the fume dials of the Prestige. Look at it! It’s lighter in the center, being gradually darkening at the edges. Honestly, the gradient dial is just beautiful. It’s undeniably dressy, but there’s a smoky, mysterious nature to the dial as well – something I’ll expect James Bond or Ethan Hunt to wear in their immaculate tuxedos. Now, the Prestige does come in a couple of different dial colours (the others being blue, green, and silver) but in my opinion the red steals the show. Red dials are relatively rare especially in the affordable watch segment, making them stand out on the wrist. I love the ruby red shade of the Prestige here. As you guys might notice in my wrist shots, the red dial morphs in different lighting conditions, making it a beauty to behold. In addition, there’s a nice sunburst texture to the dial as well.
I found the other aspects of the dial to be well thought out, complementing the fume dial wonderfully. There are polished applied indices for added depth, while polished alpha hands enhances the dressy feel of the Montage Prestige. There is a date window, but its black date allows it to blend in nicely with its dark red surroundings, rendering it as unobtrusive as possible. There’s really not much that I don’t adore about the dial. If I’m being picky, I would say that my least favourite component of the dial would be the Montage logo. I’m not a fan of the font, those big bold letters. I personally don’t think it ties in well with the mysterious, dressy feel of the Prestige – perhaps a cursive font would have been better aesthetically.
Montage currently offers the Prestige in either stainless steel (such as the one I’m reviewing), and rose gold. My advice, if you’re interested in this watch, would be to stick to the stainless steel variants. Honestly, I’m not a fan of plated watches, especially in gold – I personally think gold plated watches look cheap, and reminds me of fashion watches. Furthermore, the gold plating may tarnish or peel off over time. Go for the stainless steel models!
Moving on to the case, the case of the Montage Prestige is brushed, while the bezel is polished, creating a nice juxtaposition of textures. It’s not the most detailed of finishing methods, but it gets the job done and at this price point it’s certainly more than enough. The crown of the watch is polished too, which again results in a nice contrast against the brushed case. The crown itself is adequately sized, making hand-winding the watch an ease. It’s also signed with a ‘M’ for Montage, which is a nice touch as most crowns on sub-S$300 watches are often unsigned. In addition, I have to say that I love the high dome of the K1 crystal. While it may not be as durable as sapphire, it’s a nice visual element that is reminiscent of the acrylic/plexiglass crystals of vintage dress watches.
If I could change one thing about the Prestige, it would probably be for it to have an open caseback instead of a closed one. Make no mistake, the closed caseback is actually executed pretty well – there’s radial brushing, “The Prestige Series” engraved in an elegant cursive script, and polished bevels for a nice contrast in textures. It’s also a screwed down caseback, which allows the Prestige to possess a 50M WR rating. However, I would personally trade that all for an open caseback. The way I see it, the Montage Prestige is aimed at young adults, and positions itself as perhaps the ideal first “real” mechanical watch for its customers. It’s the in-between watch for someone coming from a Daniel Wellington, but who isn’t financially ready for to opt for a Swiss-made dress watch from Tissot/Mido/Oris etc yet. As such, being able to see the movement, and falling in love with the mechanical marvel that it powering the watch is paramount.
On my 6.5 inch wrist, the Montage Prestige’s 40mm case wears perfectly. I know traditionalists would cringe at the thought of a 40mm dress watch, but I genuinely do think that Montage got the case dimensions spot-on here – it’s a modern size, and versatile enough to suit a wide range of wrist sizes. The overall thickness of the watch is pretty svelte as well at 11.35mm, and should have no issues fitting under a shirt cuff. That 11mm includes the domed K1 crystal, so the watch actually wears thinner than its specifications suggest!
All in all, I absolutely adore the design of the Montage Prestige. Some watch snobs may dismiss it as a mere Moser homage, but I think that’s not giving Montage the credit the brand deserves. Sure, the design of the watch is inspired by haute horology, but when it is executed as wonderfully as the Prestige is here, I think that’s more of a boon than a bane. My only gripe is the closed caseback, which I feel is a missed opportunity on Montage’s part.
Shootout: Montage Prestige vs UNDONE Mystique
If you’re looking for a watch with a fume dial at an affordable price point, the only alternative (that I know of) to the Montage Prestige is the UNDONE Mystique.
In terms of specifications, the Montage Prestige definitely trumps the UNDONE Urban Mystique. While both watches use a domed K1 crystal, the Prestige features the Miyota 9015 movement while the Mystique is powered by the Seiko VK64 mecha-quartz movement. Between the two, I’ll take an automatic movement (a Miyota 9015 no less!) over a mecha-quartz movement any day. Furthermore, the Prestige has a slightly higher WR rating of 50M, compared to the Mystique’s 30M WR rating. Unless you have a pressing need for the chronograph function, the Prestige definitely comes up as the winner on paper.
The fight is much closer when it comes to the aesthetics. Obviously, both are great looking watches. This is one where it comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a sportier, everyday look, the Mystique (being a chronograph) is perhaps more up your alley. However, if you’re into dressier watches, you will likely lean more towards the Prestige. Let me put it this way – the Mystique would probably pair well with a polo tee and chinos, while the Prestige will be right at home with a suit and tie. If I really had to choose, I think I’ll still opt for the Prestige. I’ll always associated fume dial with Moser, and by extension beautiful dress watches. I think fume dials lend themselves better to dressier designs, and thus the fume dial feels more of a natural fit on the Prestige than it does on the Mystique.
If you have been a loyal follower of my reviews, you know that I love UNDONE as a brand – in fact, I just reviewed an UNDONE watch last week! However, in this battle of affordable fume dial watches, I’ll probably go with the Prestige over the Mystique. It has better specifications, a dressier look, and a slightly lower (10%) price tag. However, the UNDONE Mystique is still a beautiful watch in its own right. To be fair to UNDONE, their USP (unique selling point) has always been the ability for customers to personalise their watches. If you’re looking to get someone a gift, or a watch to commemorate a special occasion, the UNDONE Mystique will definitely make for a better choice over the Montage Prestige.
Conclusion – so the Montage Prestige “shiok” or not?
Hell yes. In fact, I think it’s the best dress watch that you can buy under S$300. The fact that you get a Miyota 9015 movement for under S$300 is impressive in its own right, but Montage takes it up a notch by pairing the movement with a gorgeous fume dial. The Montage Prestige possesses both form and function, and it puts its similarly priced fashion watches counterparts to absolute shame. If you’re someone looking for a nice “first watch” but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Montage Prestige is perfect for you. Even for seasoned watch collectors, I think the Montage Prestige will definitely add something different to your collection – unless you already own a Moser of course!
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Montage. After the discount, the Montage Prestige can be had for just $215 USD/ ~S$298, which I think is an absolute bargain. In my opinion, Montage really came into their own with the Prestige, and I’m excited to see what this watch microbrand will release next!
View the Montage Prestige here.
Currently, I’m collaborating with Zeit Photo on a few product shoots. A local up-and-coming photographer, I think he shoots fantastic product photography – definitely much better than my photos anyway! If you want to see more studio shots of the Montage Prestige by Zeit Photo, you can click here.
- Movement: Miyota 9015 Automatic
- Case: Stainless Steel
- Lens: Anti-scratch K1 Crystal With Anti-reflective treatment
- Straps: Full grain leather
- Clasp: Solid stainless steel
- Measurements: Case diameter: 40 mm, Lug-to-lug: 47.5 mm, Lug (band) width: 20 mm, Crown diameter: 5.5 mm, Case depth (including lens): 11.35 mm
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.