We are big fans of analog-digital watches here at WatchReport, so we’re delighted to review the latest release from Momentum. This is the Format 4, an updated version of their Format 2 done in titanium and optional sapphire. Let’s start with some specifications:
- Titanium case, 43mm across at the bezel by 14mm thick. 45.7mm from lug to lug, 80g on the rubber strap.
- Mineral or optional sapphire crystal
- Water resistant to 100m (330ft)
- Available later this year with a matching bracelet
- Powered by separate analog and digital movements – the crown controls the analog, and the buttons the digital.
- Unidirectional 120-click bezel with lumed pip
- Lumed analog dial and hands
- Pixel-based reverse-LCD display with EL backlighting
- World time, five alarms, countdown timer, stopwatch, power-saving features and more.
- List price of $285 with mineral crystal and rubber strap, $365 with sapphire.
Ever since Omega discontinued the X-33, we’ve had our eyes out for the replacement. When we heard about the Format 4, it seemed very promising, especially since it addressed the big drawback of the Omega, namely water resistance. At 100m (330ft), the Format 4 is proof enough for an active life. Let’s dive in and see how the rest of it holds up.
Like the Omega, the Format 4 is matte-finished titanium, one of our favorite metals for watches. Light, durable, low-key and, for those allergic to nickel, non-allergenic. It will scratch more easily than steel, but on a tool/functional watch like this that’s a minor drawback. The picture on the left (click to see the full image) shows the unusual teardrop-shaped buttons. The rounded shape contrasts the squarish case, but from the top view (see the first picture) they look unremarkable. In use, the larger size works very well with or without gloves, and the feel is good.
The closeup also shows the square teeth on the bezel. Easy to grab, and unlike the Omega this one is a ratcheting dive bezel, 120 clicks and a lumed pip at the top for nighttime usage.
On the right hand side, another look at the buttons and the unsigned, screwdown crown for the analog movement. This is the first inkling of how Momentum was able to ship a watch for a tenth of the price: the analog movement is not synchronized to the digital one, and is set separately via the crown. This is not unusual; Yes watches do the same thing, as does Phosphor and many others. It’s less expensive to design a new digital movement, by far, than a new analog-digital. Personally, since quartz is so accurate, I set them both and don’t worry about it until the next trip or timezone change.
Nicely made screwdown caseback, functional and watertight. The alarms aren’t as loud because of that, but still more than enough to wake me up. It’s incredibly difficult to make a super-loud alarm and retain any degree of water resistance.
You can also see the hooded lug design. I like this for a couple of reasons: stylistically it looks cleaner, where the ends of the strap are tucked under the case, and if you change straps they look better without the visible curved gap. Secondly, by doing so Momentum kept the watch a more wearable 45.7mm lug-to-lug. This one should work really well on smaller wrists.
Here you can see it on my average 7.25″ wrist. Very comfortable, and as you can see the reverse LCD has a nice wide viewing angle. I really like how the display are pixels and not segments, so words like ‘Chrono’,’ ‘LCD off’ and “New York” are cleared spelled out and scrolled. It makes the watch a lot more usable and less dependent on memorizing the manual. Momentum also put in icons and graphics: the countdown timer has an hourglass, the stopwatch has a reverse-L shape to separate lap count; little touches that aid usability and I appreciate them.
I’ be remiss not to note the similarity to another famous analog-digital, the Breitling Aerospace and its siblings. Upright Arabic numerals, dual LCD displays and the clean dial layout. In a lot of ways, though, I like the Format 4 better: It has a second hand, the font is upright and not italicized and quite frankly using the crown to control the digital movement is utterly useless in a plane. Just too fiddly; big buttons are much better.
One other feature I like a lot is the power-saving mode. You can press the lower right button and hold it, which turns off the LCDs until the next button press. You can also set the watch to automatically turn them off and on at set times, for example overnight. Saves power and makes for a clean, low-profile appearance. It’ll never be a dress watch, but with the LCDs off you could certainly wear it to more formal occasions.
The picture on the right was a tricky one to take, I had to charge the lume with a UV lamp, press the backlight button and then get it into the rig before the light went off in three seconds. Tricky, but hopefully you can tell how the dial is well-lumed and the backlight is the low-key EL type that lights up the lit pixels. A good watch if you want to read it in the dark and not have flashes of bright LEDs spoiling your night vision.
According to Momentum, later this year they’ll have a matching bracelet available which I think would be very nice. I’m a huge fan, as they’re more wearable in hot weather, work well in a wider variety of situations and look nicer. The vanilla-scented rubber strap is lighter, of course, and easily replaced if necessary. The bracelet should be available in December with an anticipated price of $355.
I would also like to thank Momentum for participating online in the watch forums. Us watch nuts really appreciate that; it’s one of the delights of the boutique brands.
As the right-side image shows, this is a handsome watch, with a very functional look and killer price. At $285 for mineral/rubber, it’s a fantastic deal for an analog-digital, with backlight, in titanium and rated to 100m. The displays are larger than most, making them a lot more readable and usable. (Some of the Casios, for example, are too small to read if you’re in a hurry, exercising or moving your arm.) The function set on the digital is excellent and the legibility on the analog is fabulous.
Our thanks to Momentum for the review unit.
That’s one that I want, but I’ll wait until the Ti bracelet is available.
I’ve had the Format 2 for ~13 years, and loved it except that it wasn’t very readable in the dark. At the last bi-annual servicing, they said the gears on the analog had worn out, and they no longer had parts. It stopped working when they serviced it (it was working fine when I sent in). It did work for me for a few months after I got it back, but then stopped again, so only the digital part works now. I was waiting for the Format 4 to come out, but was disappointed about the lack of a matching titanium bracelet, so am very happy to hear you say it is coming next month. The watch is apparently significantly larger than the Format 2 (and more expensive), which I’m not sure about, but maybe that will also make it easier to read. Thanks for the review
Any issues with the second hand being wobbly on the upswing from 6 to12?
I like that Momentum has added the 4 numbers to the dial, minute hashes to the entire bezel, and bigger digital displays, in comparison to the Format 2. I hope the lume works better (stays brighter) as well.
I just got this watch as a present to myself. I got the one with the leather band. I really like the feel of the band and watch. And the face is very readable.
Love this watch!
I am interested in the watch with the Titanium strap .please inform me when they are available
They have long since been discontinued but I have an old one with Titanium bracelet you can have for a fraction of the price.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been using my Format 4 for just over a year now. As a long time owner of a Format 2 I was very excited to purchase the new Format 4 watch. For the most part I’m very happy with it and wear it almost everyday. Just wondering if anyone else has had the following problem. The buttons have to be press quite hard to function. It’s not a major problem but it can be inconvenient and inaccurate since the pressure needed seems to vary. I’m waiting for the battery to go before I send it in for service and then I’ll see if they can adjust this. Perhaps it’s just related to being an early production sample. On the whole I say this watch is a big step up from the Format 2 but there are still a couple of features that I prefer on the Format 2. The biggest letdown is that the old timer worked much better for me. It was an order of magnitude easier to set the timer. In addition having both the total time set and the countdown time display at the same time is helpful whenever a watch hand was obstructing the view of the digital display. There are also many times that the LCD of the Format 2 is more visible than the LED display on the Format 4. Thanks for your review.
If anyone owns this watch, can you provide an update? How has the watch held up, likes and dislikes, etc? I am seriously considering Ti Bracelet version, but have some doubts regarding second hand issues, and weak LED.
Great Watch – Robust yet elegant. I too just got the Format 4 in leather, can I say amazing?
Any comparably priced digital/analog options, maybe in a more tactical or military design?
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