Neucarl is a small company out of South of France and was founded by Mr. Francois Carlier and shipped first Sept Mai watches just before 2020. They as many other compnies chose to go the Kickstarter way and they actually got 200% of funding which is really great, so Mr. Carlier did something right and people liked the retro-futuristic design. He is an entraupeneur and passionate about design, contemporary art, architecture and you can actually see that in his watches as the design and everything is very unique and one of his goals was to not use catalog parts like many other brands do it these days in the micro brand world.
Åfter seeing them on Instagram and Microbrand groups on facebook I wrote to them and they sent me a review sample. The variant they sent is Berlin, but they also have other variants like Roma, Reykjavik, Paris, New York and Founders edition. The difference between each variant is the colour of the dial and hands. Before I start the review I need to remind that this is a loaner watch, so it has been to many other reviewers and has some scratches on it.
The watch arrived in a nice and simple rectangular box. Inside the box we have only a watch. In a seperate envelope we have warranty card with certificate. I actually would’ve liked if you could store papres in the box. I know that for some ti may seem strange, but I like when everything is in one box, that way you can’t loose papers or anything else. But again it is just me getting extra nitpicky, haha. The first impressions of the watch is that it looks stunning, My favourite thing is probably that floating middle case as the lugs come off together with the case back. And also I quite like that sleek case (Streamline Moderne) with that modern/futuristic dial. It fuses two designs and makes a really cool retro futuristic watch!
The case of the Sept Mai is made of 316L stainless steel. The machine work is really good with nice lines and angles. The case is very interesting and original in my opinion. I have seen similar floating lug design, but not like this. The consists of two parts, the round middle case and a caseback that comes off together with lugs. The finishing all over the watch is high polished. The finishing is done really well in my opinion! The case diameter is 41mm, the thickness is 11mm, from lug to lug it measures at 46,2mm and the lug width is 20mm. The dimensions on paper seems a bit big, but in reality the watch wears more like a 39mm one and on the wrist it feels very comfortable and can easily slide under the cuff of a shirt or jacket. At 3 o’clock we have a push-pull crown with Neucarl logo engraved on top. In my opinion the crown is a bit too much outside the case, it should be deeper inside so there is no risk knowcking the crown against anything, that is also what my watchmaker thinks and he has a lot of experience in what works and what doesn’t design wise and everything. The crown action is quite good, it is easy to wind the movement and everything feels solid. The crystal on the exhibition case back is sapphire. The case back is held down with four small screws and I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but as Mr. Carlier likes the German culture, I think he chose to put 4 screws on the case back because that’s a tradition in Germany for watch brands to secure the caseback with four screws rather than a tradition screw in case back. Around the exhibition crystal we have some specifications engraved around it and also a limited edition number, mine example as a prototype beeing 00 of 99. And yes, each city edition comes only in 99 pieces. On top of the watch sits a domed sapphire crystal with AR coating. The water resistance is just 5ATM which is more than enough for a dressier non sporty watch. So no swimming, not that you would want to with this one, we have divers for that!
The dial is rather simple, yet interesting. It has a dish shape with sides going up and it when it comes to the dial texture it has a circular brushed finish. The dial is a sandwich of two layers, the circle with the minute track and the middle portions of the dial is matte black and the bottom layer is white that is sectioned in trapezoid shapes and the lines work as an hour markers. The lower white layer is also applied with lume, not the strongest one, but it is there and I always thought since I got the watch that it would be a cool detail. but never tested that and I discovered it only when doing some photos with the watch. At 3 o’clock we have trapezoid shape date window with matching white date wheel. I really like the shape of the date window, it is nice to see that the design is thought out to the smallest detail. The hour and minute hands are blue and skeletonized and the second’s hand is also blue and stick shaped. The hands are matched with all the printing on the dial. At 12 o’clock on the middle portion we have the Neucarl logo and at 6 o’clock we have the “The Sept Mai” and “Hand-Wound” written. Overall the dial is very simple and cool, maybe not my favourite colour combo, but it definitely works together. The dial is legible, but not in lower light conditions where a lume would be handy on the hour and minute hands, or maybe very strong lume on the white bottom layer.
The Neucarl Sept Mai is powered by a Sellita SW215-1 hand-winding Swiss made movemement. Maybe not the best choice as ETA is far more better movement and Sellita lacks finishing, machine precision and it has some other problems that affect the movement in the long run. Anycase the movement isn’t so bad, it still works and shows a somewhat precise time. Mine example was running at around +10 to +11 seconds a day which isn’t that bad for hand wound movement although I have gotten better results from the lower end Miyota 8000’s series movements. Neucarl also went an extra step and printed the “N” from their logo on the movement. I wish they make an automatic version in the future with the same case as I think customers won’t be bothgered by a few milimeter increase in the thickness of the case.
I was less impressed with the strap. It’s made of leather but felt rather cheap and the leather had this plastic feeling to it. And my main problem was that the strap was too short – I could only just fit it on my 18cm wrist using the last hole and my wrist is considered M size. But Francois told me that he has addressed this issue and the net batch of watches will be shipping with longer strap to fit more wrists! The signed tang buckle is nothing to write a story about. Anycase, it is dissapointing that the strap didn’t match the quality and design of the watch. On the wrist the watch felt pretty comfortable as the strap despite everything was very supple and comfortable.
Overall the watch is very unique and has an interesting design. We rarely see original design in microbrand world that isn’t the usual submariner homage or a diver in general and this is example shows how microbrand companies should do a proper watch from scratch! We as a community of watch lovers are kind of tired of the divers and want to see more watches like this and for that I thank you Francois Carlier you’ve done a great job! This particular version costs 599euros, but there are also other versions that cost 449euro which is a considerable amount of money, but in my opinion worth it! The only thing I would change is the strap, but otherwise perfect! Can I suggest Sept Mai? Definitely yes!
- Architecture Neucarl N.01 • Floating Case™. Screw-down case-back, push-pull crown
- Material 316L Stainless Steel, polished, scratch-resistant coating
- Crystal Scratch resistant Sapphire, AR coating
- Dimensions 8.35mm case – ∅ 41mm, 45.8mm x 10.5mm (including crystal), 5ATM
- Calibre Sellita SW215-1, Hand-Wound, 42h Power Reserve.
- Functions Center hours, minutes, seconds. Stop seconds. Date
- Dial Circular Brushed Black. Sandwich dial with Super-LumiNova BGW9® layer. Printed indexes, sky blue
- Strap material Textured black, Fine leather, lightweight, resistant to scratching
- Strap details 80x125x20mm, quick-release push-pins, SS buckle
- Limited edition of 99 pieces, numbered