The start-up company promises us that it’s “Time to Innovate” in Swiss watchmaking, according to their motto. Let’s see if they’re up to the challenge.
Montfort is the latest of Swiss challenger brands that’s about to take on the big boys of the watchmaking industry. Their focus is on offering an excellent value proposition and an innovative watch design that is meant to disrupt the industry standard. And the early signs are promising.
The Montfort name actually already existed in watchmaking – it was a brand apparently based out of Austria as a subsidiary of Uhrenfabrik Plangg & Pfluger. However this is not a revival of the old brand.
In this case, the name “pays homage to the Mont-Fort mountain that rises above the popular ski resort of Verbier in the Wallis canton of Switzerland”, a mountain frequented for skiing by the company founders. Mont-Fort literally means “Strong Mountain” and it’s a great fit for the robust-looking new watch.
Philippe Kuratle, co-founder of Montfort Watches, was driven to start the company when he wasn’t able to find a modern, all-rounder watch that could be worn at all times and that can take the daily grind without the fear of scratching or damaging it.
On paper, Montfort has done just that, and offers a solid value proposition to boot. The new watch case, for example, is made of scratch resistant “Super Stainless Steel”. It houses a reliable Swiss Made Sellita automatic movement, whose decorations can be appreciated through the display back. The watch also houses a stunning 3D printed stainless steel dial, which is probably the best thing about the watch.
Philippe’s brother Thomas is CEO of AIM SA – a company specializing in nitrocarburising technology that Montfort uses. He brings to the team years of experience in hardening watch parts. This technology apparently hardens stainless steel to a surface hardness of 1200HV. Diamond has a HV of 10,000 for comparison, while normal stainless steel varies between 140 - 200HV. So that’s scratch resistance covered.
The watches are designed by company co-founder Jeremie Senggen. Inspired by Swiss-alp mountain ranges, Jeremie designed a unique dial they call ’Les Massifs’. It closely resembles the mineral, crystalline structure of rock faces on the Alps, which is also similar to the mineral structure observed after the hardening of stainless steel.
To produce the look, Nyon-based brand partnered with Swedish company Digital Metal to develop the innovative dial. They turned to 3D printing – a technique increasingly being used in the watch industry because it allows for more creative freedom, especially for the smaller brands.
The Swiss Made label does come at a higher price, of course, but they’ve managed to keep prices reasonable by using a distribution strategy through the web and selected partners. Expect a starting price of $699 for a Montfort watch on Kickstarter if you support the campaign, a great price considering that the watches will likely retail for twice that amount once the company is off the ground.
The brand will make it all official with a launch party on 17 of November 2016, which will also launch their Kickstarter campaign. So we will see soon if they deserve the “disruptor status” they’re aiming for. But as far as I can tell, the price is right, and so is the design.
- STRATA Ref. 3330-1 “James”
- 44mm, 4-piece case in hardened “Super Stainless Steel”
- Swiss Made Sellita 3\111200 automatic movement in black galvanic coating, ’Cotes de Geneve’ finishing on oscillating mass and 26 rubies. 38 Hours power reserve.
- Sapphire crystal glass (top and bottom), blue anti-reflective coating, water resistance 100M/330ft (10ATM)
- 3D Dial ’Clous de Paris’ apertured in stainless steel
- Black, Semi matte Italian leather strap with black stitching and red ’LORICA: lining -22/20mm