Squarestreet SQ39 Novem

Since 2010, Alexis Holm of Squatestreet has created modern fashion watches that reflect his Swedish aesthetic. For this review, I tried the new SQ39 Novem moon phase, the latest in the line and perhaps the nicest yet. Like the SQ31 Aluminium and SQ38 Plano before it, the Novem is a mid-sized, unisex watch with a deceptively intricate dial and a couple of novel details that set it apart from the crowd. For this review, I requested version NS02: off-white dial, matte black case, and navy leather strap.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02

The movement is a Swiss Ronda 706.3 calendar quartz with a 5-year battery. Month and day subdials sit at 12 and 3 o’clock, and a moon phase disk is at 6. “Novem” is Latin for nine, which also happens to be the most prominent number on the dial, cleverly serving as both an hour marker and model identifier while also balancing the other three elements. All indices and numbers are finely drawn and clearly indicated by glossy black, needle-like hands. The Squarestreet brand name is written alongside the 9, neatly filling the space between the number and the center of the dial. The black-on-white scheme is reversed for the day register. I kind of like the quirky way the 12, which is displaced from its predictable position on the lower dial, is instead pushed up onto the raised ring.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02

Like previous Squarestreets, the Novem’s dial is richly textured. The upper ring is scored and carries the index as well as a lume pip. The main dial below bears an assemblage of concentric lines that intersect with those of the month subdial to create a crazy crosshatch. The black-ringed day indicator is decorated with a looping, almost floral pattern. Finally, the moon phase disk shows through a C-shaped window, balanced on the other side by yet another set of concentric lines surrounding ... the maze from Westworld? It’s dizzying if you delve into it, but the grooves don’t create enough contrast to muddy the dial. Rather, they lend a pleasant shimmer. The engraved caseback is similarly decorated.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02 case back

Squarestreet's Plano has a similarly textured dial. I reviewed a black dial version with gold hands and markers and found it nearly impossible to read in anything other than good light. I speculated at the time that black-on-white would be better and I was right. It looks sharp and is far more legible. Night viewing is still a problem due to the nearly nonexistent lume. There is a pip at 12 and, quite oddly, another dab at the base of the hour hand. I have no idea why they bothered.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02 lume

I have poked fun at moon phase watches in the past, and to be honest, their relative uselessness makes them an easy target — unless you are werewolf of course. I am not a werewolf, and I own one anyway, not because I care about the moon, but because I think the traditional blue and gold illustrations on the disk are pretty. That kind of old school rendering would look wildly out of place on the Novem. Instead, Squarestreet opted for a simple, white-on-black icons, indicated by a pale blue nub on an orange semicircle. This is the only spot of color on the otherwise monochromatic dial, and it is just enough.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02

The Novem’s 40mm stainless steel case is roughly cushion shaped with four curved sides meeting at creased corners. There is a chamfer at the bezel as well as a shallow undercut to the case back, both of which serve to slim the watches already wafer-thin 9mm height (from the case back to ever-so-slightly protruding sapphire crystal). Straight lugs with peaked tops and rounded ends only extend the length to 46mm. All of this makes the Novem an easy fit on my 6.75mm wrist. Say what you will about quartz movements, they are compact. I would love to see Squarestreet do a mechanical watch, but you would inevitably gain a few millimeters in thickness.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02 wrist

A knurled, signed crown is in the expected 3 o’clock position while the setting buttons are tucked in at 10 and 4. I like the fact that they are unobtrusive and that they are easily operated with your fingertips as opposed to the flush mounted type that requires the aid of a tool.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02 side

After all the effort expended on dial and case design, it good to see that Squarestreet did not skimp on the strap. Made from navy blue calf leather, it is 24mm at the base, notched to 20mm at the lugs, and tapers to a signed, 18mm buckle. It is lightly padded at the top, and both pieces are decorated with a diamond of four perforations. Off-white stitching ties it to the dial. It really is lovely. My only qualm is that it is secured with screw bars, which is kind of a pain and would be better suited to a tool watch. It is massive overkill on a watch only rated for 50m.

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02 strap

Overall, the Novem is an attractive watch and my favorite yet from Squarestreet. It is not without its faults, most notably the jumpy quartz second hand and odd use of lume, but the details of the dial, case, and strap make it an all-around charmer. You can order an SQ39 Novem NS02, or any of the 27(!) other variations, for $395 USD directly from Squarestreet.se. ⬩

Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02
Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02
Squarestreet SC39 Novum NS02

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