Momentum, formerly (and sometimes still) known as St. Moritz, is a Vancouver-based watchmaker that specializes in dive watches. In fact, they are such a specialist brand that you rarely hear them mentioned on the watch forums online. Most of their watches are sold in dive shops alongside other workhorse tool watches like Suunto.
A little digging reveals that, among divers, Momentum is a highly-regarded brand. The M1, though far from the nicest (or most expensive) of their offerings, is both their entry-level diver as well as one of their most widely available. Let's break things down:
Cost: The M1 is absurdly affordable. Retail prices start around $110 depending on the optional upgrades, and these watches can usually be found somewhere for closer to $100.
Variety: This is worth mentioning. One of the best things about the M1 is the sheer variety of styles and options available. The watch comes in two sizes, nine dial colors, and eleven different strap options, including rubber, silicone, nylon, and steel, plus an optional sapphire crystal upgrade. The sizes are "large" and "small" and roughly correspond to normal men's and women's watch sizes. I actually appreciate not only Momentum's variety, but also their egalitarian approach to their watches. Unlike many watch companies, they actually seem to go out of their way to offer the exact same kinds of watches in the smaller women's size. And they seem to understand that not all men want large watches and not all women want small ones. I've read plenty of reviews of women who have opted for the larger size.
In any case, the most expensive configuration would include the stainless steel bracelet and the sapphire upgrade. The watch I bought is the large-sized, yellow dial with the black natural rubber strap and the sapphire upgrade. I picked it up with a 20% discount from CCOutdoorstore.com for a very reasonable $112 shipped.
Size: The size large, despite its name, is still a very moderately sized watch. Width is about 40mm without crown, and 42-43mm with crown. Similar in size to the Mako, the Rolex Submariner, and a number of other classic dive watch designs. One of the nicest things about the watch is its low height. At about 11mm, it's a very thin watch and very low-profile and comfortable to wear. Lug width is 18 so you will easily be able to replace the factory straps.
Despite the small size of the watch, it actually has a fairly substantial feel to it. It's lightweight and comfortable but does not feel cheap or trinket-like.
Finish: The watch is well-finished for the most part. As with many quartzes in this price range, the second hand does not line up perfectly with the second markers. In my particular watch I noticed that there is a tiny fleck of something that looks like glue on the dial, inside of the watch, just above the one o'clock marker. It's so tiny that it's virtually nonexistent but it does still catch my hyper-attuned attention.
Bezel: The bezel movement is very smooth. Although it's not as smooth as my much more expensive Seiko diver, it requires about the same amount of pressure to turn and offers the same degree of resistance. It's a 90-click bezel, which some will probably think is rather unusual, but it just means that you will be able to set your time within about 40 seconds' of accuracy rather than within 60 seconds. The cube-shaped protrusions around the edge of the bezel make it easy to grip. There is quite a bit of play in the bezel... you can push the bezel over nearly a full click without it actually catching. Check out the video posted below for a closer look at the bezel action.
Crown: The crown is easy to use and features the standard two-stop, day and time function. It's a screwdown crown and feels very secure in its screwed-down position. I'm accustomed to having to push the crown of a watch down quite hard before turning it to screw it down, and you don't have to do that on this watch. The spring doesn't offer as much resistance so you don't have to push it very much before screwing it in, which is nice. Once again, check out the video below to see the crown in action.
Strap: The rubber strap is obviously high quality. It is flexible but not flimsy. It doesn't attract too much dust or lint, though it does attract some. There are perforations for ventilation on both sides of the strap. And, yes. The rumors are true. The strap smells like chocolate. I have no idea how or why, but it does. My only criticism of the strap is that I think Momentum should add a few more sizing notches on the short side. I understand that the strap was designed to fit over a wetsuit, but as it stands the watch probably only fits a bare 6.75" wrist at minimum. I used an ordinary drill to punch in a couple more sizing options for myself, and now the strap is fine. It's comfortable to wear and should be fine as-is for anyone with medium- to large-sized wrists.
Lume: Lume is good but nothing to write home about. The watch gets bonus points for having a lumed 12-hour marker on the bezel, as well as the second hand. The hour marker is distinctly brighter than all the other lumed parts of the watch. I set the watch under a lamp for a few minutes last night before going to bed at 11pm. I woke up around 4:30am and the lume was still legible. Here's a comparison shot between the M1 (left) and my Seiko Solar diver with its Monster-quality lume:
As you can see, it doesn't really compete with the Seiko. In fairness, the Seiko retails at three times the cost of the M1. The M1 lume is as good as my Invicta divers and my entry-level Seiko automatic, and miles ahead of the lume on the Bernhardt Sea Shark.
Visual appeal: In my opinion, this is an overall nice-looking casual diver. I especially like the wave texture on the dial, which is reminiscent of the Omega Seamaster and makes the watch look pricier than it actually is. I'm a little iffy on the bezel print. I don't like the fact that the bezel is printed black, with silver boxes around black text. I'd prefer the simpler look of either silver letters on a black background, or black letters on a plain steel background. But that was something that occurred to me well before I bought the watch, and obviously it didn't stop me from pulling the trigger.
There are so many options for dial colors and straps that the watch can really wear a lot of different masks, depending on what you're looking for. I wanted something fun and colorful so I got the yellow. But there are the standard, more conservative options like black and blue. Some of the different color options even feature Arabic script numbers rather than the plain indices, which adds another layer of personalization to the look of the watch.
Momentum's excellent warranty is also worth a mention. They have what they call the 2-4-6 warranty - you send the watch in to their repair center after two years, and they not only replace the battery and bring the watch back up to its best, but they extend the warranty for another two years. After four years total have passed, do the same thing again, and they extend the warranty again. That's pretty much the best warranty you'll find in the biz - and just like healthcare, the regular tune-ups may help avert more serious problems down the road.
Overall, I can't help but think of this watch as the evil twin of the cheap Submariner homages. Or maybe it's the good twin. Both the cheap Subs and this watch are affordable and act as introductory level pieces into the world of diving watches. But while the Sub homages primarily provide affordable watches that look like expensive dive watches, the M1 is an affordable watch that actually performs like an expensive dive watch. It's solid, well-built, and is probably worn far more often by actual divers than by mere watch enthusiasts like you and me. Unlike so many dive watches on the market today, the M1 and Momentum's other watches are sold as diving equipment rather than as accessories.
As an entry-level dive watch, or just a weekend "beater," the M1 represents a phenomenal value. I would recommend it to anyone looking for maximum performance at a very low cost.