Today we are gonna talk about a company that has been on my radar for a while! The company is called SYE (Start Your Engine) by Arnaud Pezeron, a French marketing specialist with a passion for design and watches. Ten years ago, he started a watch blog, montresdesign.com where he was sharing his passion for watches, but now with this new microbrand, he is taking this hobby to a whole new level with creating something really interesting. Seems like this is a trend where a guy is writing about watches and seeing all the watches, learning how everything is made and what is good and bad, in the end decides to make his own watch company. In my opinion that is very cool and I could imagine how hard it was to do! It ain’t that easy if you want to make something truly original with it’s own design! Many microbrands usually use off the shelf designs, parts which in the industry are called “white label”, but Arnaud wanted to go the hard way and make his own legacy with the brand SYE!
SYE has one collection called Mot1on which consists of two watches, the automatic one with date and 24hour subdial and the meca-quartz chronograph watch . Both are basically the same watches, just different movements and dial layouts. But for the review I opted for the Automatic version as most of my readers are more into mechanical pieces rather than quartz, although quartz is cool too if done right.
The Mot1on came in a small box with white cardboard outerbox with a guy dressed in suit with vintage race car driver helmet and with a SYE watch on his wrist. As you already understand this is somewhat inspired by the cars, driving etc. Inside we have a black cardboard box. You open the top lid of the box and you are presented with the watch head, case back and the fixating screw and special screwdriver to close that contraption. You open the bottom drawer and there is your chosen strap. The first impressions are that everything is very well made and has a nice cnc work done to it. The process of assembling it and attaching the strap was straight forward although it took more than attaching a classical type of strap. Also a small thing is that the material from which the screwdriver is manufactured is aluminium or somekind of soft metal and it deforms when you screw the screw and it scratches the inside of the screw.
The case is made of 316L stainless steel. The manufacturing has been done really good, like really amazing cnc work as everything fits very precisly! The case consist of 3 parts, the main watch head, back plate and a small screw that holds it all together. SYE calls the system “Fastback”. The process is very easy, you put in the strap on the sides, then you line up the back plate with the each side of the strap and secure it all with the blue screw and the provided special screwdriver. My only problem with this process is that if you loose one of the parts, you will need to get a new one from SYE, that of course is if they will exist (hopefully they will). Also there is another problem which would come after some time of using the watch, imagine changing the straps every time or so, how will the screw and everything hold up after 10 years or more? Will it age well? Or will it not and will be unusable after some time?
The finishing on the case and parts is a mix of satin brushed, polished and beadblasted finishings. The finishing on the case is done pretty good without any imperfections. At 3 o’clock we have a signed, polished push-pull crown surounded by crown guards. The real case back that is behind the backplate is held on with 4 small screws and has some writing on the back, like their name “Start Your Engine“, the collection name, unique number (The watch is limited to 500 pieces only) and some specifications. On the top of the watch we have a flat sapphire crystal with some AR coating which is pretty decent. I also quite like how the top of the bezel is polished and it plays with the light and adds more refining to the design of the case, and mix of 3 finishing kind of makes the watch look more expensive than it is. The water resistance is 5ATM (50m) which means it can resist some handwash and rain, but nothing more.
I went with the silver dial version and I think it looks the best. The silver dial has vertical brushing and I like it how it plays with the light. Around the dial we have a chapter ring with minute track printed in black colour. The applied batton hour markers has a polished finishing. At 3 o’clock we have a date window with an interesting cutout where it is wider on one side than other. The datewheel is white with black date print. At 9 o’clock we have a 24 hour subdial which can be quite usefull sometimes. At 12 o’clock we have the SYE logo and at 6 o’clock we have the writing “Twenty four” in baby blue colour which is the name of the model in the Mot1on collection. And under that we have the “automatic”. The polished hour and minute hand has lume in the middle and the baby blue colour seconds hand is a nice accent that liven’s up the dial as it also matches with the 24h subdial hand. Overall the dial is pretty legible and has nice details. The Superluminova is kind of weak in my opinion and I always wonder why do companies apply it so thin and why don’t they apply it more eavenly where it would last much longer.
The movement inside the Mot1on is the Miyota 8217. The 8217 provides the 24 hour complication and is slightly more decorated than a Miyota 8215. While the Miyota movements are one of the best in the market of affordable movements, this one lacks the smooth sweep of the second hand and can be fairly choppy similar to the 8215. If I was building a watch I would actually go for a bit higher end Miyota movement, like 9000s series movements, to get the hacking feature and get rid of the choppy seconds hand. Upon arriving the watch actually had a problem where if you shake a bit the watch or keep it at certaina angle, the seconds hand stops for 2-3 seconds which means that there isn’t enough tention to the spring, but luckily my watchmaker fixed it and I already informed SYE and they said that they will test each watch more carefully and take attention to that problem + the watch anycase is covered with their warranty so there shouldn’t be any problems with that. Otherwise the movement has been keeping a pretty good time at +15 seconds a day which is fairly good for these movements. Of course with some tinkering you can get it running even more precise.
Now we come to the maybe best part of the watch where at the same time it is a bad thing for some people who like to change straps frequently and want many materials. The strap on this watch is integrated with special supinators which can cause some headache for watch enthusiasts that want more option in materials and colours for the straps. Yes, SYE has thought about it and have 10 different leather strap options to choose from, but one strap will cost you a whooping 150euros which is a lot for a strap, especially for a microbrand. And ofcourse what happens when they sell all the watches or go bankrupt? Well SYE has a deal with their manufacturer Jean Rousseau. It means whatever happens to SYE, Jean Rousseau will continue to sell the straps on their website. This was important to SYE to reassure their customers. The strap really has that premium feel. I went wioth the Cognac colour one which is a light brown strap with white contrasting stitching and blue underlining. The strap is also super comfortable as the leather is super supple right out of the box. SYE also gives you a milled clasp which is signed with SYE logo and works like a charm.
Overall I quite like the watch despite the problems in the long run. I think it is something unique and it should get more attention and more people should check this brand out. You also don’t see so many interesting designs in microbrand market as 90% of them are booring homages, dive watches or vintage inspired quartz chronos. Yes, the watch is much pricier than a regular microbrand at 999€ (at the time of writing this article the price has dropped to 799€), but I get why the pricing is what it is. Mostly I think it is high because of the unique design and complicated shapes and the Fastback system. Is it worth buying? I think yes, but it won’t be for everyone.
Material: stainless steel 316L
Construction: 5-part case construction
Crystal: scratch-resistant & AR coated sapphire
Caseback: Fastback™ system
Water resistance: 50 meters (5 ATM)
Width (incl crown): 43,5mm
Thickness : 13,4mm
Weight: 100g (3,53 oz) approx.
Colors: Silver or Smoky grey brushed steel dial
Functions: hour, minute, second, date, 24h sub-dial
Hands: diamond shape with Superluminova™ coating
Fastback™ Premium strap among 10 variations
Lining: full grain Italian calf in SYE blue
Stitches: constrasting stitches
Buckle: brushed stainless steel deployment buckle
Length: 120/80mm (long/short strap)
Type: automatic mechanical movement
Caliber: Miyota 8217
Jewels: 21 jewels
Frequency: 21 600 alternances / hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Content of the box: SYE MOT1ON Automatic 24 watch + Premium Fastback™ strap + deployement buckle + Fastback™ tool
Warranty: 2 years
Special: exclusive launch edition numbered and limited to 500 pieces.