SYE MOT1ON Watches Aims For A Seamless Exterior And a seamless brand story to boot… by Rob Nudds May 13, 2020 MIN READSYE MOT1ON Watches Aims For A Seamless Exterior
New premium watch brands are ten-a-penny. Reasons to care, however, are rarer than hens’ teeth. Imagine my surprise, then, when I stumbled across SYE. The name — which stands for Start Your Engines — left me cold. But the watch? The watch hit me in what I believe the youth of today would refer to as “the feels”.
Having sustained a strong impact to “the feels” I struggled to catch my breath for a moment or two. The terribly-named SYE Mot1on (no, that’s not a typo) is an unexpectedly attractive beast. There is a lot to like about it and its novel case architecture. With two models available for the upcoming launch, one of them really stuck out as a winner.
The chronograph version is certainly sexy. The lugless case looks brilliant with the simply pump-action pushers and conservatively-designed crown, but it’s the symmetry of that bicompax dial that really sends this baby off the charts. The time and date model is cool, but I was won over by the chronograph. In fact, had it not been for the superior dial balance of that model, I might not have hung around long enough to appreciate the merits of both and the brand itself.
So I’m bored to the back teeth of brand’s trying to force a story across. It shouldn’t be that way. Luxury watchmaking is kind of all about the storytelling aspect. But when you’ve been in the game for many years, you can tell pretty quickly when you’re being spun a yarn. Refreshingly — and uncommonly for a brand new brand — SYE doesn’t really try and take me for a ride. Yes, there’s the obligatory reference to fast cars, and the designers’ attempt to integrate those lines into a wristwatch, but the story very quickly becomes about the watch and the engineering behind the case. Blessedly, it does not linger on the cars that inspired the project themselves in an attempt to make me feel more like Steve McQueen, Juan Miguel Fangio, or Michael Schumacher.
A funny old world
Watchmaking is a funny old world. Like pretty much anything, learning the basics is the most important bit. Once the basics are understood, what generally follows is some young buck trying to blow the basics out of the water with the most complicated invention the world has ever seen. It takes a creative mind many years of railing against the established order before it realizes that true creativity is found in simplicity. It is found in the artful distillation of a complicated concept into a digestible vessel. When you look at the true masters of watchmaking, their housings are often united by one thing: Simplicity.
The brand has very much achieved its goal.
SYE is in that second phase of development. It is the phase by which most microbrands find themselves enslaved. However, I must say that SYE seems to have displayed a pleasing level of restraint despite taking on a tough challenge. Removing the lugs from a watch case rarely results in an easy sell. And yet looking at the smooth, pleasingly organic way the heavily-padded straps meet the pebble-like case middle of the Mot1on I’m tempted to say the brand has very much achieved its goal.
Five separate components
The case comprises five separate components that interlock to create a very unusual profile on the wrist. One of the advantages of this multi-component case is how much simpler applying alternating finishes to the surfaces must be. Here we see cleanly brushed surfaces meshing with bead-blasted and polished elements — a masterclass. Furthermore, the crispness of the dividing lines between the finishes gifts the SYE Mot1ion with a superb character.
With the launch collection being offered at 40% off the full retail, prices range from £400 to £1,000. Aesthetically, I think this watch knocks the socks off most microbrands, but when it comes to the movement some may take umbrage with the pricing.
The chronograph is powered by a Mecaquartz module. With a £400 pre-order price, that’s about as high as most would feel comfortable going for that kind of tech. At £1,000, the automatic version might suffer because it is powered by a Miyota caliber rather than a Swiss equivalent. If you flipped the pricing and stuck a Seiko NE88 in the chronograph version for a grand, you could take my money. This way round, I’m not so sure. I’d like to try one on as it’s possible the novel case construction is so comfortable that the price wouldn’t matter
The quick-change straps are also a very nice touch. Additionally, the fact the initial run will be numbered up to 500 pieces is another boon. For those looking for a personal touch, the premium “fastback” straps will come in 10 different colors and leather finishes, so there really is a lot of scope for dressing up this piece. And let me be clear: I think this piece looks fantastic. I would love to see the brand to well. If the launch campaign is a success, I very much hope the founders go on to produce more watches in this style but upgrade the movements in the process. To learn more, visit the website here.
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About the author
Rob’s first exposure to the watch industry was a part-time retail role for the Signet Group at the age of 17. An obsession with watches soon developed. Following an ill-advised BSc in Archaeological Science, he applied for sponsorship to undertake… read more
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