I've been passionate about watches my whole life, to the point of gathering an enormous collection and of creating and running the blog MontresDesign a decade ago. Thanks to this blog, I was able to get in touch with different watch designers, and it was these discussions that planted the initial seed of an idea to one day found my own watch brand.
Towards the end of 2017, I quit my job with the firm intention of starting up my project, even if the details were still a little hazy at the time. Perfect timing, though – I managed to bump back into a pair of designers who I had already worked with ages beforehand. Naturally, we got to talking, and we set ourselves a challenge: create a new watch brand that could make its own modest contribution to the watch market.
Since then I had one single goal: to make you feel just the same as when you gaze at the smooth curves of a top-range car, listen to the throaty growl of a two-cylinder, see the flash of sparkling chrome or feel the sensual touch of leather that has acquired a unique patina over time. No more, no less :)
To be able to develop the project, I've surrounded myself with only the best partners. I'm really proud to introduce them to you!
Ludovic Blanquer & Michel Berra
Although I didn't know it at the time, Ludovic and Michel had been working with some of the biggest names in watches for 25 years to create their timepieces. After long discussions, here was our challenge – unite a pristine strap made from natural leather with a modern watch full of sharp lines for a totally exclusive style.
We soon realised that, in order to get the leather and steel to mesh into each other perfectly, we had to invent a whole new system from the ground up. This system had to be robust, simple to use, and, if possible, beautiful to look at and to hold. Such a system matches perfectly with our mechanic soul, and, better yet, it would allow you to customize your watch!
The Straps Manufacturer
Manufacture Jean Rousseau Paris
Combining leather and metal with a highly sophisticated integration was a make-or-break condition for us. We started a long quest and contacted a French manufacturer with a reputation for very high-end products, Jean Rousseau.
Our project captured their attention straight away and their Research & Development department was immediately intrigued. Two months after our first discussions, we received the first prototype – and it slid perfectly into the watch! That said, the specifications were complex: an integrated steel insert for resistance and durability + very natural, top-quality leather + a shape with no folds or marks on the leather, without sacrificing high flexibility.
We then had to perfect its finish. We wanted to give our Fastback™ strap an immediately recognizable style akin to a "tailored" look. And finally, of course, we had to select the leathers. We chose only the best, starting with the creme de la creme – NovoNappa leather from the Haas tanneries in Alsace, property of the Chanel Group. We also chose some more precious leathers, tanned by Jean Rousseau.
The end is result is 10 unique straps from which to take your pick to make your watch your own. And this is just the beginning.
The Assembly & Customer Service
When it came to carrying out SYE [Start Your Engine]’s assembly and organising our customer service, we looked for a partner able to check all our boxes: a trusted reliable partner with proven expertise in watchmaking that we could rely on for our R&D, as well as a small and close-knit structure able to give our projects – and our customers! – the priority they deserves. Most importantly, we needed a partner geographically close to us for a seamless and efficient collaboration.
Reparalux came top of our list. Its workshop, located in Besançon, the French watchmaking capital, hosts 15 collaborators specialized in assembly and watchmaking for prestigious brands.
Reparalux stands for unique know-how in watchmaking handed down across 4 generations! The company was created in November 1956 by Marcel Humbert-Droz. Today, it counts 3 generations among its ranks: Jean, Frédéric and Julien.
Since the launch of SYE [Start Your Engine], we’ve experienced the strength of our partnership, especially in customer services where we can ensure a prompt fix to any kind of problem in less than 2 weeks.
Seiko & Miyota
As a young brand, your initial decisions are critical. This is doubly true in watchmaking, when you need to select the movements that will power your first watches.
Our motto right from the off was to escape from the Swiss Made game. We do, of course, have a deep respect for the reputation of Swiss movements, but we also think that there are credible and interesting alternatives, especially in Japan. Furthermore, we wanted to acquire our movements in a reliable and seamless way, which seemed a bit uncertain in 2019/2020 with the pending trial about the deliveries of certain Swiss movements.
Given our true and innate mechancical DNA, we had to fuel our watches with mechanical movements. We started our selection with the automatic 3-hand caliber. We were actually looking for an extra twist on top of the classical 3 hands-date. The interesting 24h sub-dial from the automatic Miyota range, an industrial branch of Citizen, won the battle.
As we wanted to offer a mechanical chronograph from the start, we had to revise our ambitions. We then had to find a quartz chronograph that could also stand its ground. It was from Seiko, that we found the amazing meca-quartz technology, as it combines the best of both worlds: quartz precision matched with the elegant tick of a mechanical chrono.
Right from the get-go, we chose proven, reliable and efficient movements that will surely give your complete satisfaction on your wrist.
Watch cases, dials and hands
We draw and design our products in Paris.
Our watch cases, dials and hands are manufactured in Hong Kong by the industrial partners that patiently helped us during the almost 3 years of development of our first model.
Their ability to meet our demanding requests and the complexity of our designs is clearly reflected through the premium finish of our watches.
Once manufactured, our components are shipped to France, to Reparalux in Besançon, where they are meticulously inspected, assembled and adjusted before being delivered to you with an international warranty of 2 years.
Last but not least, at SYE, we don't like to just follow the crowd. We decided to create our own universe from a collection of simple pencils.
For this, Giovanni Valletta, a talented American artist who has worked with some of the biggest names in comics Stateside – including Marvel and Dynamite – joined the SYE team.
Giovanni's work had caught my eye when he started to work on the comic adaptation of the John Wick films. His style matched absolutely perfectly with SYE's values and vision.
I got in touch with him – not without a little effort – and he, as a watch lover himself, was immediately hooked by the project. As for what came next, you can easily see for yourself by looking at Giovanni's drawings and animations on our website.