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.
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.
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