It’s tough to pull off a simple design in the crowded watch world. But it’s nearly impossible to do what the Neucarl Sept Mai accomplishes: A simple design that is wholly unique and appealing.
Any sub-$200 bland acronym-labeled watch can pull off simple and modern. The Sept Mai is in a different league. Starting with some pencil sketches, French designer and Neucarl founder Francois Carlier has managed to create a nuanced tribute to Streamline Moderne design. The Sept Mai is a joy to behold at any angle. I first took notice to Neucarl’s design a couple of years ago on Instagram – from those rough sketches, not much has changed. Carlier has maintained his vision of the piece and brought it to market, even after an earlier crowdfunding effort fell short.
The case of the Sept Mai is not simply a vessel for the hand wound Selitta found inside. It’s an artistic statement in and of itself. The svelte, high-polished case is the foundation of the Streamline Moderne design concept. It utilizes a unique two-piece case construction: The caseback and lugs are one piece that cradles the sleek midcase and creates an illusion that the center body is floating.
It would be easy to simply classify this design as industrial – it certainly has a post-modern clean feel that evokes the designation. But the term “industrial” implies a cold, harsh presentation. There are enough curves and depth to invite a sense of warmth here; much like a 1957 Chevrolet could hardly be considered an industrial viewing experience.
More Streamline Moderne magic is revealed as your eyes glide over the convex crystal to meet the concave radial brushed dial. Presented as a unique sandwich layout with cutout middle sections between the hours, the dial adds a three-dimensional depth without betraying the fluidity of the lines from the case. This dial design is a master class in finishing a subtle yet bold timepiece. And with the thin, clean bezel, the dial is allowed to spread out and add more visual appeal than 41mm in diameter should allow. Sleek skeleton stick hands contrast with the silver dial finish for great legibility without distraction from the design character.
One minor nitpick on a relatively flawless execution: If you came to this party hoping for a blazing lume experience, you will leave empty-handed. While I appreciate the thought process here — that lumed cutouts would make the skeleton stick hands visible at night — it simply doesn’t work in any practical sense. The application of lume is simply not strong enough and the hands are too thin to be legible at night. But this is not a tool watch and lume is really an afterthought on a piece like this anyway.
Specs and Pricing:
• Case: 41mm, Stainless Steel
• Architecture: Floating Case™. Screw-down case-back and crown
• Material: 316L Stainless Steel, polished. Scratch-resistant coating
• Crystal: Scratch resistant Sapphire, AR coating
• Dimensions: 41mm diameter, 45.8mm lug to lug, 10.5mm height including curved crystal
• WR: 50m – 164 feet
• Movement Type: Mechanical, manual winding
• Calibre: Sellita SW215-1
• Functions: Center hours, minutes, seconds. Stop seconds. Date • Power Reserve: 42h • Sandwich dial with Super-LumiNova® BGW9 layer
• Indexes: Silk printed, black
PRICE: 599 Euros directly from the Neucarl Website.
The Sept Mai is quite simply one of the finest examples of creative and mature microbrand design I’ve seen, which is an amazing feat for a first release. Where it could have fell into a boring and tedious viewing experience, the watch begs to be viewed from every angle to appreciate the clean swooping lines.
For enthusiasts willing to go outside their normal safe spaces of collecting, this is a great addition for anyone as a casual dress piece. It can clean up for a suit with the included black leather strap, or dress it down and quirk it up a bit with available quick release straps in orange, green and blue.
With just 99 models made in each of three variations, this is a limited production watch and competitively priced for the unique design and Swiss Mechanical movement at 599 Euros.