I wish to come back today on a watch that was presented in 2012: the SUISSEMECANICA SM8. In fact, I have followed the brand since its first steps (I remember our appointments at the Salons Belles Montres and QP) and I always found that the SM8 was a singular piece that deserved more attention.
The SM8 may appear at first sight as an imposing chronograph, with a very masculine design. And yet, by going into details, discovering it in use, it becomes much more subtle both from a technical point of view as well as from an aesthetic point of view.
Be careful however: I am not writing that it seems smaller than it is once put on the wrist. The SM8 is a powerful and manly watch and it is felt in both the diameter (43mm without the sliding crown protector and 48.5mm with) and the thickness of the case (18mm). And yet, thanks to Juliana Arbelaez's pencil stroke, a kind of magic operates. The wearing sensation is not that of a metal block but that of a pebble that combines both curved parts and sharper angles.
One of the reasons for the aesthetic success of the SM8 is the continuity of the lines. Despite the complexity of the construction of the brushed steel case, the whole appears coherent and homogeneous. I particularly like the way the lugs extend the curve of the middle part and the smooth integration of the crown protector. The lugs are short and the location of the bracelet, very close to the case, allows excellent support while controlling the feeling of size of the watch.
The opening of the dial is very reasonable because it is due to the cumulative presence of two inner bezels. I begin to address through this remark all the technical ambition of the SM8. This watch, spearhead of SUISSEMECANICA, is much more than just a chronograph. It offers the display of a second time zone thanks to the inner dual time bezel, it can accompany its owner in all circumstances thanks to the water resistance of 200 meters and the diving bezel and it offers a unique ergonomic thanks to the sliding crown protector along the middle part.
This crown protector is obviously the signature of SUISSEMECANICA: it forges the character of the watch, brings the genuinely original aesthetic touch as well as an unique user experience and imposes on the exclusive movement a specific architecture. In fact, the impact of the crown protector is multiple.
The sliding crown protector releases the pushers according to its position:
The watch is structured according to the functions it offers. The crown protector works as a kind of selector which, by sliding, releases or hides the pusher and the crowns. In the central position, the crown protector gives access to the main crown which allows to manually wind the watch and set the time and date. By pushing the crown protector upwards, the lower crown is released in order to turn the diving bezel. Pushing the crown protector downwards, the chronograph pushbutton and the upper crown become accessible. The owner of the watch can then start, stop and reset the chronograph and manipulate the Dual Time inner bezel.
The general impression given by the handling of the crown protector, crowns and pusher is that of an excellent perceived quality. There is a feeling of robustness and flawless execution. The unidirectional diving bezel is precisely positioned thanks to the different notches while the Dual Time bezel moves continuously but firmly. The pressure of the chronograph pusher is also well dosed. Certainly it is not a Lange chronograph but the work done on this specific point is also successful.
The exclusive Concepto movement is pleasantly finished:
The chronograph is actually a monopoussoir one in order to free the space for the second crown. This is the reason why SUISSEMECANICA asked for a specific development of the Concepto chronograph movement in order to give it this characteristic. The SM1-2222 caliber, which powers the SM8 is given its origin, robust and reliable. Its performance is classic considering that it derives from the Valjoux 7750 (a 4hz frequency for a power reserve of about fifty hours). I like the presentation of this movement in the context of the SM8 because its finish is very neat and very contemporary. The winding mass is well made by being hollowed and blackened. The whole movement is very pleasant to observe and confirms the quality standards of the watch. I would have appreciated however that the caliber was created from the Concepto column wheel movement.
By putting the SM8 on the wrist, I was able to appreciate the aesthetic work also achieved on the dial. The diving bezel is strongly inclined and wide. It is not only practical but it also brings a lot of personality. The way the indexes are positioned on it, with the raised markers, contributes to the perceived quality. The Dual Time bezel is much more discreet and obviously housed near the main hands. The central dial is classic in its presentation and inspired by classic chronographs. The approach is very refined and Juliana Arbelaez has chosen not to indicate the markers of the tenths of a second to not make the dial too busy. I think it's a good choice that makes the diving bezel more readable because the indexes of the inner scale can be perceived as a kind of extension of the hours markers. Finally, the dial has some touches of color, both discrete and welcome.
Surprisingly, the watch is worn with comfort because it is well maintained on the wrist thanks to the dtrap efficiency and the compact shape of the ends of the case. However, don't imagine that you would be able to pass the SM8 under the sleeve of the shirt! Finally, the slightly domed sapphire crystal offers an anti-glare of rare effectiveness.
I must admit that I have liked the SM8 since its unveiling and that's why I knew I was going to write a favorable article. It's a bit like explaining the crush i have for this watch. Afterwards, I am fully aware that this is not an easy watch to tackle: its size, the large and prominent crown protector make it unique and not suitable for small wrists. But this radical and uncompromising side is what gives it interest and charm: I consider the SUISSEMECANICA SM8 as one of the most relevant and accomplished chronograph watches in a manly and powerful style.
The SUISSEMECANICA SM8 is available with a brushed steel case as presented at a price of 15,000 euros including tax. Other materials may be offered on request.
+ the excellent perceived quality
+ the clever system of the sliding crown protector
+ the refined and contemporary design
+ a reliable movement consistent with the style of the watch
- the thickness
- I would have liked a column wheel movement to be closer to the qualitative spirit of the piece