I help out at a local watch shop on occasion and we’ve had for several years two early-1970s Omega Dynamics sitting in the case. They have gold elliptical cases that make them a bit quirky. But their most interesting element is the strap, a single piece of leather that has a wide hole in the center which allows it to be secured against the watch by a caseback ring. It’s a design I’d long wished to see in a modern watch.
So when I saw the MOT1ON series from the French brand SYE (Start Your Engine), I got a bit excited. The brand had finally revitalized the unique look of those vintage Dynamics, but had done so in a decidedly modern way, and available both as a mechanical three-hand and a mecaquartz chronograph.
On the Wrist
While the abbreviated branding may conceal the intent of the watch, the design of the entire package–to say nothing of the trademark of “Fastback” for the bracelet–are loud and clear. The SYE MOT1ON watches are undeniably sporty, with crisp, brushed cases that don’t give the wearer any desire to be at a desk or in a conference.
Neither model suffers in the least from any legibility issues. The polished markers and hands are allowed to contrast against the brushed dial, and the seconds and subdial hands are immediately readable. The double-sunk subdials are just an added bonus.
The MOT1ON is not a large watch on paper (both the chrono and the three-hander have the same dimensions). But while some watches benefit from sculpted lugs to mitigate case size, the SYE MOT1ON doesn’t have the luxury. As such you feel every millimeter of the watch on your wrist. Perhaps a less drastic immediate taper to the strap would allow for some visual slimming, but as is, the precipitous drop only serves to emphasize both the height and width of the case. Once you get the deployant strap dialed in, though, the MOT1ON is rather comfortable on the wrist.
The contrast that the polished markers provide against the brushed dial, along with the color pops (check out the ’60’ at the top of the chapter ring), make this a fun dial. I can’t help but think (without any evidence) that they chose “Twenty Four” to justify the 24-hour subdial, instead of wanting a 24-hour subdial.
That said, the idea of a 24-hour dial is appealing. I can just imagine myself in the fallout bunker after the skies go dark with atomic ash, the world population decimated, survivors driven underground into cramped quarters, forced to subsist on canned goods and Twinkies. Then I will have the power, because only I will know whether–beyond the hermetically sealed hatch that protects us from the death that lurks just outside–it is night or day. The radial, split-finish dial will also be nice to look at.
I really like what SYE has done with the MOT1ON date windows. Not just a frame or a beveled edge, but a long sloped approach from dial side with a complementary short slop on the outer edge. I’ve seen this with panoramic date windows (which I detest), but seeing this more intentional date window applied here is a treat.
The chronograph dial is just more interesting to me. It’s not just a matter of an additional subdial and improved balance owing to the date placement, but I think the dark taupe is simply richer. Here, too, is where I’ll acknowledge the utility of a 24-hour dial: it can be helpful when setting a watch to know whether the hands are already in the AM or PM, to save a second or two with less times around the dial. This still doesn’t explain its presence on quartz watches, though.
The lume struggles a bit, but talking to the brand, it was not a primary concern: it was added to give “minimal reading function.” Even allowing for the weaker lume, I find it puzzling as to why the even bothered if they weren’t going to add some glow to the markers (or even just the 12 o’clock marker).
Case and Strap
The brushed case features only flashes of shine: the polished bezel edge around the sapphire and the crowns. Despite the round overall shape, this case is very anglular, which you can see throughout the photos here. And it has arguably the most integrated strap I’ve ever seen, with the Fastback system literally completing the curve of the round case.
There’s a nice symmetry to the case sides, both featuring an L.A. River-type trough design. On the crown side, this trough is created by the trapezoidal crown guard, which I rather like the look of.
Well I’ve certainly buried the lede (I don’t know why it’s spelled that way). You’ve been reading (or scrolling impatiently), waiting for me to explain the strap system. Because it is a system. I’ll say here that whether you like the look or not, the straps are of undoubtedly of high quality. Just make sure the strap buckles toward you, or you’ll be uncomfortable all day.
So here’s how it works. You put the included key (which will be metal-tipped for production) into the blue screw, which loosens the caseback (no need to fully unscrew it). Then remove the strap, pop the new one in, and you’re done. I did this several times, both switching the watches and to adjust the strap direction (see my above tip). Is it easier than a normal strap? God no. But its an innovative approach to creating a proprietary strap system, whether one was needed or not.
One of the exciting things about watches is the occasional innovation and frequent creativity that happens outside of the haughty world of haute horology (where the name of the game is providing overcomplicated solutions to problems that don’t exist). SYE is a perfect example of this. They’ve created a sleek, integrated bracelet system to complement an attractive timepiece.
The SYE MOT10n series presents a compelling option to those looking for something different and interesting for a weekend away, a fun night out, or just to convey a bit of elan in these dreary times. The uniqueness and innovation clearly has a price tag, but I think that doing something new and original perhaps merits a bump. You can be the judge, though.
Check out more chronograph reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out more sports watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the SYE website
SYE MOT1ON Specs
Miyota 8217/Seiko VK64
$995 (Auto)/$847 (Chrono)