Saturday, April 21, 2018

Wrapping up Seven Days with the Sartory Billard SBO2

Time, tide and well, reviews wait for no blogger, so it is time to wrap this one up.

For the past week I have been wearing, and truly enjoying the Sartory Billard SB02 - Silver Dial version.  The review piece came with Sartory Billard's “Côte d’Azur” blue acetate bezel installed.  I realize as I write this that many of you may not be exactly familiar with Sartory Billard, and in fairness I was not either until I met one of the owners at BaselWorld back in March -

Definitely one of the cooler marketing pieces I saw ; )

Sartory Billard is the creation of Ludovic Sartory & Armand Billard.  Based in France, the constituent components of the SB02 are brought together and assembled in the Franche-Comté, a region that I visited back in November 2015 and home to many historical French watch making legends.  

The SB02 is Sartory Billard's second creation.  Now on the surface the watch is interesting owing to its design which is not the typical round field / diver style that we seem to be getting swamped with lately.  

Courtesy of Sartory Billard
The case is not quite tonneau, and not quite round.  You might also be able to notice from the above image that the inner stainless steel bezel is somewhat reminiscent of an ellipse.  Not quite round.  You will also notice that the stainless inner bezel pitches upwards somewhat, providing a really cool look and feel with real depth.

The case is made of stainless steel and measures 39 mm in diameter, and 12 mm thick.  And unlike so many brands (both micro and macro) the guys at Sartory Billard opted for a solid case back, which I truly appreciate. 

The fit and feel of the watch quite good.  It is definitely of the Goldilocks school of watch sizes - not too big, not too small, but just right.

Now here's the clever part - actually, just one of the clever parts!  You will notice if you look at the watch dial, you will note that the inner portion is actually translucent.  And you can see the full reveal of the date at 3 o'clock.  I have to be honest, I really dig the effect.  My only suggestion would be to have an outline around the date window to make it stand out just a little bit more.  But this is a minor point, and more down to my aging eyes than any true design issue.

Apologies for the shaky camera hand, but as you can see, the lume is good ; )

Under the hood, the movement is the Miyota 8215 self-winding (automatic) movement.   For those of you so inclined, here is a link to the pertinents, courtesy of Miyota  - 

Miyota 8215

The time keeping was first rate, no major deviations (fast or slow) to mention.  And I have to say something - THANK YOU Sartory Billard for picking a movement that can be serviced pretty much ANYWHERE!  More importantly, it's worth noting how many brands - even the big dogs - are starting to use Miyota instead of ETA or Sellita.  Hours, minutes, seconds and the aforementioned date.  All functioned perfectly.

The little things that you don't find on most micro-brands are here -

A signed crown.  The crown itself was very tactile and precise.  Setting the time was smooth and easy.

A signed buckle.  Smooth and appropriately sturdy for the watch and strap.

And a signed strap.  But there is more to this.  Because a big part of the Sartory Billard design is to offer the watch owner the opportunity to have ONE watch that can have several different looks without the use of tools and a professional watch customizer.

Sartory Billard use quick change straps that do not require a special spring bar tool or a pocket knife.  I started the review wearing this combination -

The strap is the grey version (grey sued top, leather underneath).  The strap width is 18 mm at the connection point but you will notice that the strap widens out to fit flush underneath the lugs.  It is a great looking combination, and I got plenty of questions about it.

You will also notice the four screw heads at the corners of the outer bezel.  This is far more than an aesthetic touch.  Because every SB02 ships with a tool to remove the screws -

allowing the customer the opportunity to purchase additional outer bezels for the princely sum of...

25 € each!  

 And suffice it to say, if yours truly can easily get this thing off -

And get the other bezel on...

 with minimal fuss and no cursing?  Then ANYONE can!

 From a sunny weekend look...

To the perfect watch to wear to the office.  One important thing to bear in mind when removing and changing bezels - the bezel does NOT require excessive force or torque to secure.  When the screw stops turning with normal force?  You've gone far enough ; )

And I think, if I am honest, Sartory Billard has come up with something that several other brands have tried, but (in truth) failed to deliver on.  A modular watch that can easily be changed and modified by the customer with one tool.  How many watch brands give this much consideration to a customer?  Every watch guy and gal wants to have options.  We speak all too often about our collections.  So often, that I think it is clear that many of us have lost touch with the idea of that one special watch.  The one that we treasure and look forward to wearing every day.  And how many brands are thinking about that customer that perhaps either has limited funds, or is truly conscientious about not spending their kid's college funds in the pursuit of a new watch?  This is an amazing idea, thoughtfully designed, well manufactured and very well-priced at 542 Euros.  

Want an extra one of the "standard" bezels so you can, in effect, double your watch?  You have five to choose from -

Courtesy of Sartory Billard

Courtesy of Sartory Billard

Courtesy of Sartory Billard

Courtesy of Sartory Billard

and it will set you back 25 Euros.  Want one of the really nice engraved limited edition ones?

Courtesy of Sartory Billard

Courtesy of Sartory Billard
These are hand engraved, and limited.  And in fairness they are more expensive at 125 Euros each.

Three different colors of leather straps are available and again, very affordably priced at 25 Euros.  

All too often I am confounded by a certain well-known watch media outlet that drones on and on about the "value proposition" when speaking about watches that typically cost more than $1,500.  No offense to these folks, but I find that concept a tough one to swallow.  Mechanical watches, by their very nature, should certainly cost something.  But when I think about a watch with real value in terms of its pricing, I have a hard time equating the word value with something that represents a full pre-tax pay check for many people.  A good watch that you enjoy wearing should not be such a financial hit that you might be choosing between taking your family on a vacation or buying yourself the watch.  And that is why I am so enthusiastic about the Sartory Billard SB02.

Is this for everyone?  Probably not.  The case us unusual, and some people are not necessarily ready to break away from herd mentality and try something new without a big group's name on it.  But for the right person (and having worn it this past week, I can say that I am one of them), the Sartory Billard SB02 offers a great watch with potentially limitless possibilities.  

Here are the pertinents regarding the watch as reviewed:

Sartory Billard SB02 silver dial & “Côte d’Azur” blue acetate bezel

ref. SB02.D.ST.04

Stainless steel 316 L mirror polished and brushed on the sides.
“Côte d’Azur” blue acetate bezel.  39 mm in diameter, 12 mm thick.
Case back: 

Stainless steel, screw down, engraved
Water resistant: 


Sapphire, anti-reflective treatment with blue shade

Automatic Movement Miyota 8215

Hour and minute are rhodium with facets and applied Luminova. Rhodium second hand.

Sunray brushed and indexes applied with Luminova.

Stainless steel with logo

Suede and genuine leather 

2 years warranty

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