Neucarl The Sept Mai Hands-on Review
Looking back at the reviews I wrote since the beginning of the pandemic, most of them were microbrands. The more I am exposed to them through trying them out, wearing them daily or just moderating the Microbrand Watches group on Facebook, the more excited I get by some of these watches. This debut model from Neucarl has only intensified my passion for these watches, and no, I’m not a zealot, I won’t fall for everything done by a microbrand, but there is such a wide range of choices that is really easy to find something that would make my heart flutter, and the Neucarl The Sept Mai is one of them.
I won’t go into a lot of details about the brand, this review will be followed by a Q&A with Francois Carlier, the founder of Neucarl, where he talks about his vision for the brand. For the sake of this review, I would just say that The Sept Mai is his debut collection and actually, the model presented here is called the Founders Edition, which was first presented on a Kickstarter campaign in 2019, but that campaign was cancelled before it would reach its goal. Francois did not give up on his dream and he was back in 2020 with a new campaign, also including two other versions. This time the campaign was a home run, reaching twice its original goal.
Francois, who is passionate about architecture and design, for The Sept Mai, used as a source of inspiration the Streamline Moderne, a style from the 1930s characterized by curved, aerodynamic forms. This is what gives The Sept Mai that unique look or rounded, aerodynamic form. Almost like a futuristic sports car from the 1930s, even better, the polished case, which is an inverted conical frustum, reminds me a round sports stadium, with the domed roof being the sapphire crystal covering the dial. I’d like to bring to your attention how the thin bezel is angled in a way to seamlessly blend into the domed sapphire crystal.
The lugs, too, are breaking away from the norm, they are not a continuation of the case, but they are actually part of the case back. There is even a “gap” between the case and the lugs, but it has an important role in highlighting the unique volumes of the case. The originality of these lugs goes even further. Unlike other watches where the lugs would be rounded or tapered down towards the bottom, they are rounded from the top and the bottom, further improving the aerodynamic look.
Everything is curved, so is the brushed steel dial with its concave shape. Under this top steel layer a lume layer, which to be honest was a surprise to me. I was not expecting it and when it just shined up, I was blown away! I really liked how the center is cut out in a way to leave the indexes, making it look like a spoked wheel and underneath, little I knew that the mat white layer was actually BGW9 lume.
The skeleton hands are custom designed by Neucarl and they work really well together with the crisply printed minute marks. As a graphic designer, I’m really impressed by the Newcarl logo and the way the whole dial is layout out. There is only one tiny detail I would have made different, I wish the date window was centred between “central disc” and the “outside ring”.
The display back reveals the inner heart of The Sept Mai, a hand-wound Sellita SW215-1 movement. With the movement too, Francois chose a less crowded path, there are not many hand-wound watches made by microbrands and it’s a pity. If you never had a hand-wound watch, you will never understand the close relationship you can have with your watch. You can’t just forget about a hand-wound watch while wearing it, you actually need to look after it, some might find this a hassle, but true watch geeks will enjoy it.
Besides the Founder edition, The Sept Mai collection includes other dial versions, like the super gorgeous Berlin edition with carbon black finish and blue indexes and hands or the equally beautiful Roma edition with glossy white dial. There are other cities in the making, like New York (blue), Reykjavik (green) and Paris (red).
If you stick to a more neutral model like the Founders edition with its stainless steel dial or the white dial Roma edition, you can match them with any of the eight strap colours the Neucarl is offering. You can go from orange to blue, black, red, any colour will work and switching straps won’t be complicated thanks to the quick-release bars.
The Sept Mai is a wonderful watch and I had a lot of fun handling it and taking pictures. I could not stop snapping more and more pictures, this watch looks stunning from any angle and in any lighting conditions. It’s a sport-chic watch that will look great on your wrist in any social scenario, just don’t go diving with it. This is not a diver’s watch and the fact that it’s not is part of its charm. This is a watch for a style-conscious watch aficionado, who will appreciate the unconventionality of The Sept Mai, who will enjoy a watch inspired by the past with a contemporary design that will remain timeless. I hope this makes sense and I hope that I managed to convey my excitement for this watch. This watch will work on any wrists, small, big, guys, girls, anyone can/should wear it. By the way, guys, if you are looking to introduce the lady of your life watches, here is a great opportunity and if she won’t get hooked you can always get it back and enjoy it.
Before you go, check out the interview with Francois Carlier.
Case: The Sept Mai, 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, ⟷ 45.8mm, ↕ 10.5mm WR: 50m – 164 feet
Calibre: Sellita SW215-1
Functions: Center hours, minutes, seconds. Stop seconds. Date
Power Reserve: 42h
Dial: Sandwich dial with Super-LumiNova® BGW9 layer
Price: € 599