June 20, 2016
by Ariel Adams
This is the first watch I’ve worn to combine all of these functions together, and it’s done rather elegantly and attractively. SuisseMecanica turned what could have simply been a nice time-plus-chronograph watch into something a bit more interesting. Having a monopusher isn’t even preferable to me over a two-pusher chronograph, but I celebrate it in the SuisseMecanica SM8 Chronograph because of both the technique and the originality. I also like the use of two internal rotating bezels with the outer 60-minute timing bezel and inner 12-hour bezel.
The latter bezel offers a “dual-time” functionality by moving the 12 o’clock indicator either left or right to add or subtract GMT time. Once you use it, it makes sense, and it’s subtle enough to not be distracting when you aren’t using it.
Dial design on the SuisseMecanica SM8 Chronograph is lovely, mixing traditional utilitarian themes with just a hint of decorative flair. I’m usually not a fan of skeletonized hands, but these ones look cool and actually help distinguish the hands against the dial versus hiding them. Dial design is symmetrical and focused on legibility, which I really appreciate. Moreover, while SuisseMecanica is clearly adopting known themes and functional elements from watch making history, the SM8 nevertheless has a distinctive look to it which I think modern tool watch lovers will really like.
The monopusher chronograph has just one subdial opposite the running seconds hand measuring up to 30 minutes. Of course, SuisseMecanica could have included a 12-hour subdial around where the date window is over 6 o’clock, but again, they made a “form over function” design decision. Taken together, these push the watch more into the “art watch” category than the purely tool watch category, but it is the type of thing a lot of design lovers look for since there is such an intentional focus on aesthetics. It’s not a matter of good or bad, really, but rather of understanding the reasons for the design choices and how they come together to create a very beautiful object (even if functionality or ergonomics is sacrificed as a result).
Inside of the SuisseMecanica SM8 Chronograph watch is what they call their caliber SM1-2022M movement. This was produced for them by Concepto and signed by Concepto family member Valerian Jaquet. It’s apparently designed exclusively for SuisseMecanica – and I believe that because nothing else quite like it exists in other watches. The base architecture is that of a Valjoux 7750, but with lots of changes for the different functionality and, of course, rather attractive parts and finishing. It is certainly the type of movement you want to see in a watch at this price level. The automatic movement operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a power reserve of 50 hours. Over the movement is a black ruthenium custom “SuisseMecanica” signed rotor.
The base SM8 watch has everything the SuisseMecanica SM8 Chronograph has, just without the monopusher chronograph complication – and some people might even prefer its looks. Moreover, each of the SM8 watches comes with a few variable parts such as the colors of the inner rotating bezels that can be steel or black in tone. These are not limited to 50 pieces collectively, but rather the entire SM8 and SM8 Chronograph collection is limited to 50 pieces each. This particular version I’ve reviewed is the “SM8 Chrono Steel / Black” and is limited to just 15 pieces. As I said, these are rather exclusive watches.
It’s hard to find design and craftsmanship quite like this in other watches, which is another one of the reasons that the SM8 watches are unique, in my opinion. Attention to detail is fantastic, even when such details make for quirky design decisions as mentioned above. Yes, the pride of the SM8 design comes with a few “form over function” elements, but sometimes you need to make sacrifices to realize the purest form of a designer’s vision. In that, I respect the watch, even if it means some more “limited” use of all its functionality. Price for the SuisseMecanica SM8 in steel is 11,900 euros, and the SuisseMecanica SM8 Chronograph in steel is priced at 13,600 euros. suissemecanica.ch
>Model: SM8 Chronograph
>Price: 13,600 euros
>Size: 43mm wide without the crown guard, 48.5mm wide with it.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to: True watch and design collector who likes modern sports watches from dedicated and passionate designers who are willing to make no sacrifice to see their vision become a reality.
>Best characteristic of watch: Really beautiful design mixed with innovative mechanical and functional elements. You get the feeling a long-time watch lover and artist conceived both the look and feel of this cool yet quirky timepiece.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Perhaps a few too many “form over function” moments that sacrifice pure utilitarian purpose for design-related visual elements. Case is rather sharp, even though it isn’t an issue when simply wearing the watch.