California-based Sisu makes big watches, and that’s all they do. However, there is more to the brand and its products than that, not least a healthy dollop of character. While size matters at Sisu, they offer impressive build quality and comfort, and the Sisu Carburetor Q1 watch I am reviewing today is a good example. Obviously going for a certain niche appeal, the question should be: for what the Sisu Carburetor Q1 is, does it do it well? Having had the watch for long enough to know it well, I hope my introduction to it will allow you to answer that question for yourself.
Let’s start at the beginning, and that is with the comically heavy box that the Sisu Carburetor Q1 comes in that kind of represents what the watch is all about. I normally omit the packaging when discussing a watch, but in this case it is notable. When I picked up the package, I knew what it was, but was confused for a minute because it is just too heavy for a watch, even with all the packaging, literature, and accessories that accompany some watches (sorry, I didn’t get to actually weigh it, but trust me, it’s heavy). It is clearly meant to emulate military gear or a toolbox. Let’s just say that it makes a strong first impression, and the watch inside appropriately follows up with a heavy, chunky, and knobby piece of wrist-equipment.
The primary purpose of every Sisu watch is to make a statement with its size – there is no practical reason or benefit for 100m-water-resistant watches like this to be so big other than style, at least not that I can think of. It’s a lot like the box it comes in that doesn’t need to be so heavy but is meant to convey certain things about the watch or the wearer’s values. When first asked to review a Sisu, I was hesitant because being familiar with the brand, it was questionable if my 6.5″ (17cm) wrist would even be able to accommodate one. A personal anecdote: after initially getting into watches, it took me quite a while to warm up to anything larger than 38mm. Now, I will often wear a 37mm watch one day and a 44mm watch the next; I have also happily worn 48mm and 50mm watches before.
So, I’m not against big watches, but being able to comfortably wear the 50mm-wide, 13.5mm-thick Sisu Carburetor Q1 was a pleasant surprise. I like it when something exposes and challenges my preconceptions. Almost Sisu’s entry-level piece, the quartz movement and mineral crystal further placed the Sisu Carburetor Q1 outside of my usual watch-appreciation comfort zone. These features, however, allowed me to focus on what Sisu specifically does well, and that is build quality and comfort. And Sisu does offer many watches with sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movements, but they cost more money than this model, of course.
The Sisu Carburetor Q1 is genuinely sturdy-feeling and comfortable despite its size. Its surprising wearability is actually a commendable achievement, and I recommend anyone drawn to the look to not hesitate in trying one on. Honestly, I expected it to look ridiculous on me, but it didn’t – and, while you may not agree, people I specifically asked confirmed that it did not look particularly silly. Where I live it is hot all year, and people wear a lot of short sleeves and big watches – Panerai(“-style”) and G-Shock are very common. I was a little disappointed, actually, that wearing the Sisu Carburetor Q1 out did not seem to draw much attention.
This brings us to an aspect of Sisu I find interesting. That is that while the brand is macho, for sure, the “boldness” is achieved with size and emphasizing size, but avoids loud colors and blingy elements. That indicates some restraint and undercuts the idea that Sisu is just a look-at-me brand, as it may be easy to assume from their over-the-top and in-your-face designs.
This Sisu Carburetor Q1 actually does not incorporate one of the elements that I most associate with the brand as the Sisu signature. Carburetor is, I believe, the third and newest Sisu collection after the Guardian and Bravado series – most of which are around 50mm wide and about 16mm thick. Each of those series include dials that incorporate large numerals that are cut off by the edge of the dial, best represented by the Sisu Guardian, such as the one we reviewed here. The effect is that it looks as if the dial is too big to fit on the already giant watch. It’s a clever way of emphasizing and accentuating size, and I thought so even at a time when I was generally turned off by the idea of “oversized” watches.