Like every industry, the watch business is remarkably diverse. While outsiders may assume all watch brands are the same, nothing could be further from the truth. First, there are brands that belong to a larger conglomerate like the Swatch Group, LVMH, or Richemont. Then there are independent brands that aren’t owned by a multinational parent company. Within the indie watch world, you have a subgroup of so-called “haute horlogerie” brands. These companies produce watches in extremely limited numbers, often in precious metals. Many of their pieces also feature grand complications. Finally, there are independent brands that focus on producing “affordable” pieces for a wider target audience. In this series of articles, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most interesting companies in this last group.
I sat down with Michael DiMartini, one of the founders and owners of Monta, at the Windup Watch Fair in New York. I’ve known Mike since Monta first attended Baselworld in 2017, so I’ve been lucky enough to witness the development of Monta up close. Mind you, Monta is not their first foray into the watch industry. They are also the faces behind Everest Horology – a name that should ring a bell to any Rolex enthusiast. Everest was creating rubber straps for Rolex models well before the Swiss brand did it themselves. Needless to say, DiMartini and his business partner, David Barnes, had a bit of a head start compared to other up-and-coming watch companies. Even so, they still had plenty of hurdles to overcome to get to where they are today. Part of their success can be attributed to their openness to customer feedback, which they take very seriously.
Monta firmly believes that less is sometimes more. “Our brand is refining references at this point,” says Mike. The current catalog consists of 4 model families: Atlas, Oceanking, Skyquest, and Triumph.
The Atlas line contains time-only watches with a GMT function. As its name suggests, the Oceanking collection offers diving watches with a rotating bezel, great legibility, and a metal bracelet. Then there’s the Skyquest, Monta’s travel/pilot’s watch. Instead of featuring a chronograph, this timepiece boasts a GMT with a 24-hour rotating bezel. Last but not least, the Triumph series is home to clean and elegant timepieces on steel, leather, or rubber bands. These simple watches do without fancy complications and focus solely on telling the time. That being said, every Monta watch has a date display at 6 o’clock, regardless of the model. These collections all manage to stand out on their own while maintaining Monta’s distinctive aesthetic.
When I asked Mike to describe Monta’s philosophy he responded: “Our intention is to build something that is super high quality; that speaks to the end-user and feels common but feels unique.” They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. In fact, if we’re being honest, Monta offers nothing you won’t find from other brands. However, their goal is to deliver products of unmatched quality for the price. And it’s working. According to Mike, Monta’s customers are driven by aesthetics, somewhat affluent, and looking for something unique but too extreme. Instead of offering a new take on famous models from other brands, Monta is cautiously making its own path.
Mike and the whole Monta team foresee a bright future for the brand. It seems they are slowly leaving the micro-brand segment and growing into a full-fledged member of the indie-brand scene. They’re working hard on product development and expanding their retail network. Rumor has it there might be another time-only watch on the horizon for Monta and, hopefully, a chronograph in the next 5 years. When it comes to their dealer network, Monta is looking to enter brick-and-mortar stores and stop being an internet-only brand. Mike knows that many consumers prefer to touch and feel the watches first – an experience you can’t get on the internet. We wish them nothing but the best on their journey and look forward to seeing what’s next!