From a distance and across the room, the WMT Montana presents exactly as the watch many of us enthusiasts can only dream of. A silhouette to mirror the 6263 Rolex Daytona, does the Montana possess merit on its own terms or does it fail to ride on the coat tails of one of the most desirable watches of recent times?
The WMT brand has been able to replicate the ageing process of timepieces seen only in the catalogues of the most prestigious auction houses. With every special edition, every release, WMT seems to be the only brand daring or capable enough to bring patinated watches to market in far more complexity than any other.
The Montana is a timepiece that has received what WMT calls their ‘ageing’ process, featuring tasteful effects on the bezel, bracelet and hands so that while the watch is brand new to you, it may very well have lived a life before adorning your wrist. Watches under their ‘Heavy Aged’ catalogue feature components that are finished in such a way where the results are so very accurate to the worn and torn pieces of which they are inspired by. Ignore the text on the dial and you would be forgiven for thinking it was actually a battle worn Mil-Sub, tropical 4 digit submariner, pilot flown bakelite bezel GMT, or deep dove Fifty Fathoms. At face value, WMT offers enthusiasts the ability to live the dream of owning a watch unobtainable for the mere mortal, but is there substance to match the style?
On wrist, the Montana looks the part and feels it too. I had the chance to hold a 6263 Big Red Daytona some time ago and the visual resemblance and wrist presence is uncanny. The 37.5mm diameter, 44mm lug to lug and 20mm wide bracelet that tapers to 14mm mirrors the watch it is attempting to mimic. The only measurement that significantly deviates from the original form is the 14mm case thickness, required to house the Seiko NE88 Automatic movement. There are many chronographs in the market that are similar in thickness and many more that are thicker, but when it comes to the Montana do not be deterred as the short lug to lug length and classic case size make this watch a dream to wear, especially if you have a slimmer wrist as I do (16.5cm). The Seiko movement keeps time well enough and the pushers have a nice snap to them when you start, stop and reset the chrono. With a 45 hour power reserve the NE88 does just enough to fulfil its use case for the Montana. There are some practical short comings of the timepiece, namely the dead spot in the second crown position and all three screw down pushers are form without function as the Montana offers zero water resistance. An acrylic crystal frames the dial within the case and it is undoubtedly soft. Have some polywatch on standby if that may bother you or enjoy those scuffs and consider it yet another feature to make the watch as true to form as possible.
For the $1,350USD asking price, perhaps a more sophisticated movement or at least a few gaskets to keep the water out would be expected, though I am lenient to the fact that WMT have opted make technical sacrifices. Placing priority on offering a physically and visually faithful interpretation of the ‘Big Red’ Daytona. (Really, who is getting their vintage Rolex wet anyway?). There are many watches that are more rugged, capable, function focused for the price, but if you’re reading this review or interested in owning the Montana you’re here for a slice of that vintage Rolex essence and so these technical aspects are likely to be secondary to the purchasing decision.
The Montana delivers the spirit of the Daytona in a way that just about any other watch cannot. All the design details from the bezel, the hands, lume plots, big red font, the warm, matte colouring of the sub dials are astonishingly accurate and tastefully executed. WMT is able to distinguish itself from those blatant copies or poorly executed homages not only through this attention to detail but also through the ageing process mentioned earlier. The timepiece presents so closely to what a vintage Daytona would look like if it were to go on auction today.
If I could own one watch and money was no issue, it would be a gold 6263 Daytona. I truly believe there is no better looking sport watch ever made. I bought this WMT as I face the same reality of many in this hobby, I’ll never be in a position to own the real thing. A vintage Daytona (and to some extent a modern Daytona) feels out of reach and I wanted to see if the Montana could let me live in a world that I otherwise never could. For all that is said about homages (which are very different to replicas or copies, which are obviously are hard no) I never want money to be an obstacle in any hobby, especially watch collecting. If your grail is a mil-sub or an original Pepsi GMT with a bakelite bezel and your little slice of watch collecting heaven can be had through a brand like WMT, then so be it! The Montana is not the most robust or capable timepiece, far from it in fact. However, it wears like the real thing, it looks like the real thing and if you enjoy it like its the real thing, then that’s what really matters.
The final verdict on the WMT is a positive one, I would wholehearted recommend owning a Montana especially if you can find one pre-owned. At full price it becomes harder to justify the purchasing decision with the competition in the $1,000-$2,000 USD range incredibly stiff. The Montana costs about a tenth of the Gevril Tribeca which is arguably the halo watch in this category (although this is a reinterpretation of the Paul Newman Daytona rather than the 6263) made famous by this ‘Talking Watches’ episode. There are other homages out there, though buyer beware there are plenty of poor quality options on the market that are NOT worth your money.
The Montana won’t be setting any chronometer records and there are glaring cost cutting measures, yet that all becomes a distant memory when you put the watch on your wrist and marvel at how on earth they’ve managed to put together a faithful, respectful homage of your favourite vintage Rolex.