The microbrand world of watches is ever-expanding. In this crowded space of watches that are usually sold exclusively online, popping up from companies all over the world, it can often be difficult to determine which brands are worth your hard-earned cash. I’m an avid supporter of microbrands and I’d argue that they are doing some of the most exciting and interesting things in the watch world today. Over the past few years I’ve had the chance to own, handle, or review a lot of different microbrand watches, and easily one of the most impressive brands I’ve come across to date has been Monta. Monta is the sister company of Everest Straps, a well-known manufacturer of watch straps for Rolex & Tudor watches.
After a rocky start launching their first model, the Oceanking at a price point of over $3,000, Monta quickly listened to customer feedback and adapted their business model and pricing to better fit the market. As part of this brand development, Monta has released the Skyquest, a GMT watch based on the Oceanking design. I got the opportunity to spend a couple weeks with the Skyquest on wrist, and found it to be fantastic. It’s one of those watches that I would look down at just to catch glances of it throughout the day, not even caring about the time. The GMT functionality came in handy during my day job – scheduling conference calls with my UK-based clients – and regardless of the activity or location I found myself in, the Skyquest would always fit in. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Measuring in at a comfy diameter of 40.7mm excluding the crown and 43.6mm including the crown, the Skyquest rides low and comfortably on the wrist being only 11.9mm thick. Combined with its lug to lug distance of 49mm, I found the Skyquest to be a great size for my 6.5” wrist. Something about strapping this watch on just looked right – the short lugs combined with a modest overall diameter felt like the perfect size and shape for me.
The case design is nothing too out of the ordinary for a diver or tool watch, however Monta’s case finishing is definitely a step above its fellow microbrands. Around the case are polished facets and smooth edges, hints that display Monta’s desire to position themselves as a higher-grade brand. While this level of finishing isn’t anything new to watch enthusiasts, it’s rare to find in the microbrand world.
The case design here is the same as what Monta uses on its Gen 2 Oceanking model, featuring a crown at the 3 o’clock position, flanked by two small crown guards. If you handled Monta’s first generation Oceanking, then you’ll notice that the crown here is much smaller this time around. Personally, I liked the giant crown that Monta used on its the Gen 1 Oceanking design, but I understand that it’s not a feature everyone would have the same affinity for. While I prefer the easy-to-grip aspects of the giant crown, the smaller crown is comfortable and didn’t dig into my wrist in any way, while still being perfectly easy to manipulate. And of course, being based on a dive watch case, the Skyquest features 304m of water resistance (an oddly specific depth rating, I know).
As we move around the case, the Sellita movement is visible through the sapphire display caseback, but is otherwise clean with no engraving or text to be found. While the movement isn’t anything crazy to look at with its level of finishing, I always enjoy being able to glimpse at the beating heart of a watch. All in all, I’m pleased with the case construction and design of the Skyquest. It wears well, is solidly constructed, the smooth edges and polished accents add an extra “oomph,” and it lines up with the overall quality that Monta has set a standard for in their previous watches.
I really enjoy a well-designed GMT watch, and the Skyquest does not disappoint in my book. The Skyquest is available in three colorways: a lacquer black (which is what I got the chance to review), a gilt black (with matte dial), and a blue dial. While I’m always a huge sucker for blue dials, the lacquer black is a real stunner in person. The polished indices and stark white/red text and accents really pop against that shiny black dial and make the watch a real pleasure to look at as it plays with the light.
The Skyquest features some very tall applied indices at 12, 3, 6, and 9, with smaller sibling indices filling out the other hour markers. Each one is filled with a healthy amount of BWG9 lume, and surrounded with polished rhodium, which adds a high-end feel to the Skyquest. These indices are so tall, in fact, that Monta had to bend the GMT hand into a dog-leg shape to allow it to clear them, a detail that I find very cool. Continuing around the dial, you’ll find the Monta logo simply printed in white at the top of the dial, and the text “Skyquest” in red, along with the depth rating of “1000 ft – 304m” in white, just above the date window at the 6 o’clock position. Like the rest of the indices, the date window is surrounded by rhodium.
Along the chapter ring, you’ll find the 24-hour GMT scale, but only the odd numbers flanked by red accents. The even numbers are found on the bezel, allowing you to actually keep track of 3 time zones with ease, without a lot of math and conversion involved. The hour, minute, and seconds hands are all surrounded with rhodium, like the indices, and are also filled with BWG9 lume. It might be a small detail, but I love the cool-blue color of BWG9. It might not get as bright as C3, but damn does it look cool.