Sartory Billard SB-02

I first sampled the Sartory Billard SB-02 When James Henderson of the Tempus Fugit blog brought them to the District Time show as part of his New Romantics project. I had seen this small French brand’s Instagram posts and knew the watch boasted a replaceable bezel system but didn’t really get the full picture until I had one in my hand. They were kind enough to let me play with a review sample afterwards, and I’m pleased to report that the SB-02 is a perfectly lovely watch that is well deserving of your consideration. The fact that you can swap bezels is icing on the cake. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel

The SB-02 is a mid-sized automatic. Its case is roughly barrel-shaped, with bowed sides and rounded corners but flat across the top and bottom. In profile, it displays a pronounced arc in its upper surface with small lugs at either end and a flat case back. Although only 39mm wide, it appears larger, while the pronounced curvature in the upper surface and sides seem to shrink it to your wrist, making it very wearable in spite of its flat bottom. I found it well suited to my 6.5” wrist. 


Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel

A tall circular ring rises from the center, further accentuating the slope. You soon realize that this element holds its own surprises, rising high on either side and dropping down at the 12 and 6, which gives it an almost oval appearance when viewed from at an angle. Then, as if the interplay of the arched face and undulating bezel were not enough, they’ve tossed in a domed sapphire crystal, adding yet another curve to the mix. 

This intriguing collection of shapes is further highlighted by a brushed finish on the sides of the case and bezel, and a mirror polish on their top surfaces; however, the shiny part is largely obscured by a removable bezel secured with four exposed Torx screws. It fits around the dial covers the entire upper surface of the case except for the lugs. (Arguably, both the raised ring around the dial and the overlay that covers the upper surface of the case could be called bezels but Sartory Billard reserves that term for the removable bit so I’m going to run with that.) On this watch, the bezel has been microblasted to a soft matte finish, adding one more element of variety to the stainless steel surfaces. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel

The flip side is simpler, but just as well executed. It bears a deep stamping of the globe replete with lines of latitude and longitude and positioned such that Europe at its center. Behind it, beats a Miyota 8215 automatic, a well known, reliable, 21 jewel unit that vibrates at 21.6k bph. I know some of you will bemoan the fact that it is not a 9015, and as such, lacks the higher model’s hacking and hand winding capabilities and smooth 28.8k sweep. Personally, I find it hard to get too worked up over that. My biggest issue with any Miyota is the noisy bidirectional rotor. This is true across their range and it is quite noticeable on the SB-02. 

But let’s return to the outside of the watch because I’m not done yet. The crown is also more complex than usual as its coin edge gives way to a brushed chamfer at the head, which is recessed, blasted, and signed with a debossed logo deep inside. It is fairly large, although not overly so when you consider the height of the case. While it may be a push-pull unit, it is sufficiently sealed for a healthy 100m of water resistance. 

There is a lot going on here and all of it is good. I had great fun eyeing the watch from all angles to see the interplay of its various lines and planes. I particularly liked the view from the lower corners, from which I could appreciate the tall lip that rises high over the crystal at the center of the case, the polished edge, and the way the top surface falls away from that central section as it drops away to the glinting lugs. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel

Which brings us to the dial. As fascinating as the case may be, the dial is by no means overshadowed. It’s most notable feature is the translucent center through which you can see the ghost of the date wheel and just the barest glimpse of the movement. It provides a pleasant illusion of depth without going full skeleton. A brushed, raised ring carries allowed markers and a railroad track index. The Sartory Billard brand is represented by an applied and polished logo up top, and in simple printed text at the bottom, along with the model designation. At the very bottom around the 6 o’clock mark are the words “Paris, France” the brand’s home and point of assembly. The hands are faceted, polished batons filled with just a sliver of white lume. It looked great when I blasted it with my UV light for the photo, but it didn't last very long. Given that the SB-02 is not a tool watch, I can live with that. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 lume

Sartory Billard ships the watch on a leather strap equipped with quick release bars. It is 23mm wide, extending to the outer edges of the lugs and is notched to the 18mm distance between them. It tapers to a 20mm buckle. Of course, you can swap in a standard 18mm, but I like the way the stock strap continues the gradual transition from the barrel to the lugs. They sell a wide range of them as accessories, including the grey suede pictured above. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel strap

This is a lovely watch and if it were sold exactly as-is I would be perfectly happy. But wait - as they say in late night informercials - there’s more! The SB-02’s claim to fame is its replaceable bezel. While other watches have attempted user-replaceable features to change the look, and I can’t recall a single one that seemed to be in any way worth the effort. This one, on the other hand, is simple and effective. 


Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel swap

Using the supplied Torx tool, I easily removed the existing bezel. Torx heads are a mixed blessing. Unlike a more common slotted or Phillips head, you almost never have the right one in your toolbox; however, the Torx tool gets a more secure seat than a standard screwdriver, and you don’t have to worry if the heads will line up. Advantage, Torx. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial matte bezel swap

Once the tiny screws are out (don’t drop them!) the bezel comes right off, revealing the polished surface beneath. I had two acetate replacements with my sample. The tortoiseshell brown went into place easily but did not have the precision fit of the steel unit. I screwed it down like I would a caseback, turning the fasteners just enough to set and then going back to tighten at opposing corners. You don’t need to exert much torque, but you do want to be sure they have pulled the corners of the plastic bezel into position. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial brown acetate bezel

The CotĂȘ d’Azure Blue bezel was another story. It was much flatter than it needed to be and a tight fit around the dial. I’d guess that it was compressed in the box and needed to be reshaped. Its corners were far enough from the case that I did not try to fit it. Those tiny screws were not designed to crank down an uncooperative piece like this. A quick message to the Sartory Billard representative confirmed that any customer who received an ill-fitting bezel would get a replacement or refund. 

Sartory Billard SB-02  side white dial Cote d'Azure blue bezel

Even given the one recalcitrant bezel, I was rather pleased with this feature. You really can execute the swap in no time, and it transformed the look of your watch. Sartory Billard offers a wide range from which to choose, including several varieties of stainless steel or acetate for 25€ ($30 USD), ceramic for 42€ ($51 USD), and hand-painted or engraved stainless steel for 125€ ($150 USD). Even better, the bezels are open source. Just download the 3D model and fabricate away. Really, I could see this turning into a habit. 

Sartory Billard SB-02 bezels

The Sartory Billard SB-02 sells for 524€ on their website, or $541 USD excluding that pesky VAT. Shipping is free and they are offering a 10% discount code if you sign up for their newsletter. This is a nice deal, and it even leaves you a few bucks for an extra bezel or strap or two. You can also find them at WatchGauge.com, the official US distributor. Head over to Sartory-Billard.com for details. I highly recommend it. ⬩

Sartory Billard SB-02 white dial Cote d'Azure blue bezel







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