Leaunoir Neptune Calendar

Review and photos by Mike Razak

The Neptune Calendar is a vintage-inspired watch from the new brand Leaunoir. Touted as French-assembled by a French brand in France, it will appeal to Francophiles if no one else. To summarize all of my ranting below, the watch is fine. The case is an exemplar of the style, the dial suffers in some places, but succeeds in others, the movement is regulated in-house, the strap is of high quality. But there are issues I took, especially with the hands and lume. And those issues inhibited my ability to enjoy this watch. Read on for a stream of nits aggressively picked. 

The case is a classic wire lugged case: round, high polish, with lugs that shoot straight out and bend in to brace the strap. There are no frills here, just shine: the slab-sided midcase rounds out on top, where it holds a domed sapphire crystal. At 3 o’clock, a polished crown features the silhouette of Neptune, the watch’s namesake. The crown is diminutive, but in proportion with the 38mm case; its shape is somewhat that of a pilot crown, with some rounding akin to an onion crown—we’ll call it a sliced onion crown. There’s little to fuss about with the case: it’s what you’d expect of a watch with wire lugs, and certainly, the style is widely available from microbrands to high-end boutiques.

The case sits well on the wrist, at just 11mm thick, including the crystal. A practically miniature 44mm lug-to-lug ensures that only the daintiest of wrists will experience overhang, and the lugs themselves slop down a bit for added wrist hugging goodness. With such dimensions, though, the watch is bound to look almost comical on large-wristed watch lovers. If you’re above 8”, you’ve been warned.

Moving on to the dial, the watch falters. The dial text is a lovely reminiscence of old railroad watches, with big bold serif numerals. The brand at 12 o’clock is equally prominent—it’s take it or leave it, but I’m actually a fan. A minute track around the periphery matches the other dial text. But then there’s that white date wheel. I’ll say that many iterations (there are five dial options, and two cases, with a total of 7 different configurations) of this watch have white dial text and numbering, and in photos of those, the white date wheel is far less jarring. With my version, though, the clash between vintage gold numerals and the bright white date was irreconcilable.

The name Neptune Calendar is at 6 o’clock, along with “Submersible.” This his watch has a scant 50m of water resistant. To call it submersible is tantamount to calling my son’s play kitchen creations molecular gastronomy. Do not submerge this watch.

Finally, we have the hands with which to contend (and the lume within them). First, the high polish gold hands look bad with the high polish steel case. The gold hands are fine on the two gold case models, and Leaunoir would’ve been smart to keep both the gold hands and the gold dial text to those two options. As it is, we have a clash of metals. Two-tone is on having a comeback, but not like this. Further, the alpha-style hands with their sharp lines and angles disrupt the smoothness of the rest of the watch; better here would’ve been cathedral hands, common on many of the old wire-lugged watches.

The C1 Super-Luminova is barely there, applied in anaemic strips on the hands, and then in four microscopic dots on the dial. Enlarging the watch slightly may have allowed for a larger dial and numerals, which could’ve been filled with big, puffy lume. This would’ve made for a great vintage dial—especially if you lose the date.

On the reverse is a polished display caseback, secured by screws. It shows off the Swiss STP 1-11 movement. The movement has perlage finishing on the plates and Côtes de Genève on the rotor, which is emblazoned with gold-letter branding. Typically, this movement runs at -0/+15 sec/day, but the in-house watchmaker regulates all movements to +/- 5 sec/day, nearly COSC. The STP 1-11 is otherwise a clone of the ETA 2824, and some have said it exceeds the base ETA in quality. I’ll add here that I know that STP can do significant adjustments to their watches for a cost, and that includes removing the date function, or at least color-matching it. Given the cost of the watch, I think Leaunoir may have been better served asking STP to modify the movement and date wheel than spending money on in-house regulation

The strap of the Leaunoir is undoubtedly of high quality, with a square end that I rather like and a seemingly reinforced lug end that I could’ve done without, as it adds to thickness and stiffness. The 20mm lugs seem too just wide for the watch; 18mm may have been better visually, though certainly more difficult to market. When I swapped in straps with a more generous taper, the effect was quite pleasing. My review piece also shipped with a two-piece nylon strap, with ballistic fastening rings. I couldn’t figure out why it was included or how anyone thought it complemented the watch.

The Neptune Calendar will retail at €750, which is too much for this watch. For the “Old Black” version I had, the hands were just not right, and the white date wheel ruined an otherwise enjoyable dial. And across the board, the lume is inexcusable. Other colorways are better, and I strongly encourage you to go look at them on the campaign page—the blue and white seems just splendid. In fact, all the options without gold seem great. But I didn’t have those in for review, and so here we are.

The good news is the Leaunoir Neptune Calendar is available for as little as €490 through the Kickstarter campaign. That’s what the watch should cost, at most. If you’re interested, head on over, as the campaign is live. The watch may be just what you’re looking for. And if it’s not, but you want a wire-lugged watch, options abound.
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