The watch that wasn’t, then was

About two years ago, I posted a WTB on TZ-UK for a Sinn EZM1. I’ve always loved them, and I do have a lot of respect for the Lemania 5100 movement – and I was delighted when I received an email off-forum from a member there who potentially had one for sale. The watch was located in Europe, and there followed a flurry of emails as we tried to agree on an appropriate price; however, the deal was finally done and after a few days of waiting the package duly arrived. Sadly, it transpired that the watch needed a service, and under a loupe there were also some marks on the crystal that I wasn’t happy about. The seller acted as any seller should and took it back, planning to have the work done at some point in the future; I then proceeded to move onto other things, and pretty much forgot about it.

I’ve kept my eye out since, but the EZM1 is a bloody nice watch and owners tend to hang on to them. However, a week or two ago a lovely example did pop up for sale on TZ-UK, and shortly after that I attended a get together in Norwich and bumped into an old mate there. He was actually wearing the 3H version, and after trying it on I realised that my yearning for one of my own hadn’t really diminished. Long story short, I bought the one that was listed for sale and have been wearing it now for a couple of days. The funny thing is, though, that upon opening the box and checking the paperwork, it turned out to be the exact same watch that I’d bought and returned previously. The service and crystal replacement had subsequently been carried out by Sinn, the Argon gas had been refilled and seals replaced, and the watch had been pressure tested. Brilliant, eh?

So a bit about the EZMI, for anyone not familiar with them… it’s a titanium case (and bracelet), with a diameter of 40mm. In fact, the case is very similar in shape to my Heuer 2446C, which perhaps isn’t all that surprising bearing in mind the association (if that’s the right word) between Heuer and Sinn in years gone by. The crown and pushers are on the left (this was a particular request from the German ZUZ special forces, for whom it was originally designed, I believe) and inside is that absolute workhorse of a movement, the Lemania 5100. The 5100 has been criticised by some for it’s very utilitarian design, but it’s proved itself in the most trying of environments over the years and in the main is highly respected for what it is. It also provides for what is undoubtedly the cleanest of chronograph dials, in that there are no subdials whatsoever; a second hand is completely absent, and the chronograph counter is read from the minute track on the edge of the dial (the little hand with an aeroplane symbol on it, tucked under the main chrono hand when not in use, tracks expired time).

It’s a real fit for purpose watch, with no frills whatsoever; in fact, my son saw it for the first time yesterday and immediately said “It looks like a military watch, Dad”. I liked that, a lot 🙂

Diver-sity

I know we tend to desk dive in these parts (okay, not all of us), but there is a commonly-held view that a collection of divers is – by definition – a bit “samey”. Even I’ve thought that in the past, and in fact made a supreme effort to build a collection without any at one time. I succeeded. too.

Anyway, a comment on a TZ member’s thread about his incoming Deep Blue made me think about this for a moment, and I realised that the four divers I have are all very different from each other; different enough to each warrant a place in the watch box on their own merit (and the one that’s presently listed for sale will pretty soon be back in there, and I’ll be happy to keep it). Anyway, this is what I mean…

The eye of the beholder

The U1 is a bit like the Tuna in some ways… a beast of a watch and one that’s not immediately, not obviously, beautiful (okay, the Tuna’s a fugly thing, but you know what I mean). I think, though, that it can be surprisingly aesthetic and – like the Tuna – it’s a very versatile watch. It looks good in so many different guises, and it offers so much variety because of that.

I thought I had it just how I wanted it but a Sinn rubber (with the chunky but wonderfully-engineered clasp) arrived today and… well, I love it. Wouldn’t you?

But talk about being spoilt for choice! Every strap I mount has the same impact, looking like it was just meant for the watch.

Yes, even the bracelet!

I wish I’d bought one years ago.

A birthday SOTC

Yes, it’s my birthday today, so it seemed like a good reason to post about my current collection, as it won’t be changing now for some time, if at all.

The moonphase collection

Yes, it’s a rather pointless complication – I realise that. However, for some reason I love them, and these two are so different in terms of style and approach that I think they offer variety whilst being conceptually similar. The Glashutte Original is of course a Perpetual Calendar so in terms of horological craftsmanship alone it’s worthy of admiration; aside from that, it’s Teutonic magnificence is there for all to see… wonderfully finished movement, meticulous design of dial and overall build quality that’s up there with the very best of them. The JLC MUT Moon (this is the 39mm model) is altogether different in both look and feel, and somehow seems to marry the traditional and the modern in one gorgeous package. Oh, and the movement is a mere 4.9mm thick – amazing really, considering it provides a moonphase complication within a watch that’s so light you barely know you’re wearing it.

I do love both of these watches, and wear them a fair bit (albeit less than any of the others, I have to say).

The vintage collection

I’ve been on something of a journey with regard to vintage Rolex, and am lucky enough to have owned some wonderful watches that have included a McQueen Explorer, a red Submariner and a couple of Great Whites. I’ve also enjoyed sixties vintage 5513s and 1675s but all of these were moved on before I settled on the two I’ll now keep; a 1981 5513 and a 1983 16750. Both of these watches are supreme examples, with wonderfully fat cases and beautifully-aged dials and hands; they’re also (deliberately) both of an age where they’re still pretty robust and don’t have to be babied too much. In retrospect, this seems to have been important in my decision-making process and the consequence is that I just enjoy wearing them (a lot) and don’t have to worry about their delicacy. I also much prefer the 16750, with its quick-set date, to the earlier 1675… it shares all the vintage charms of its older brother without the disadvantage of the date change mechanism (or lack of).

The other vintage piece is an old Tuna 7549-7010 from 1978. I absolutely love Tunas but there’s a real difference between old and new, and I realised having sold one of these before that I really do enjoy owning and wearing them. The replacement I picked up recently is a wonderful example, too.

The “smart/casual” collection

Now, these two took a great deal of thought, as they could easily have morphed into a PP Aquanaut; in fact, the decision was all but made and the Aquanaut I ordered came into stock at Boodles about a week ago. In the event, though, two things happened. Firstly, I realised that the PAM 337 – a 42mm model with all the characteristics of the classic Panerai – really is a fantastic watch; it can be dressed up or down, is very slim in addition to it’s other sensible dimensions, and is an absolute pleasure to wear. Secondly, I was offered a NIB Daytona at the precise moment that a long-drawn out deal for another one finally failed to materialise. I couldn’t quite justify (effectively) trading these two for the Aquanaut, but I’ll be honest and say that it’s still a possibility for the future.

I’ll take some time (by which I mean months) before determining once and for all whether or not I go down that route, though, as a wrong decision could be quite costly and I find both of these watches fit the same bill as the PP… consummately smart, beautifully casual and wonderfully adaptable.

And the beater!

Well, it’s not really a beater, to be honest. What it is, though, is a brute of a watch that – for the money – is near unbeatable in its class. The U1 is a bit marmite in that the hands tend to polarise opinion, but the build quality is unarguable as is the distinctive style that sets it apart from other divers. I find it a tad heavy on it’s bracelet, but on a Zulu (and I have five different colours for it) it comes into it’s own. Is there a more perfect weekend/holiday watch?

So, there you have it then… eight watches rather than the six I really wanted to settle on, but for now and the immediate future I’m perfectly content.

Well, it seems that I CAN do it…

Not long ago I asked, rhetorically, whether or not I could reduce to five or six watches. (Well, I said five, but as every good WIS knows there’s always room for an additional beater 🙂 ). The answer, it appears, is “yes” – the mini-cull is now complete and aside from making a decision on whether the PAM337 gets replaced by an Aquanaut I’m finished with buying and selling. In fact, before today it was definitely going to be the Aquanaut, but the truth is that these 42mm Radiomirs are so sublime on the wrist that I may just put that acquisition on a very long hold.

Anyway, this is what I have left, and it’s what I’m staying with. The only changes from the original plan are that I’ve kept the JLC MUT Moon instead of the Speedy (some will say I’m mad, but others will agree with the choice made).

In fairness, I’ve also kept a more recently acquired Sinn U1. It’s such a fantastic watch for the money, and it’s also the best everyday watch that I’ve owned and perfect for use on holidays, both on the Bach and in the pool. It’s just not worth selling it, frankly.

Lets hear it for the…

I’ve lost count of the number of watches that I’ve bought and sold in my previously-eternal hunt for a “beater”. The term, for me, is used relatively loosely as I don’t need a watch that I’ll wear when it’s likely to get scuffed and dented… for that, I have a Casio (or I’ll take my watch off, which seems to me to be fairly sensible). When I refer to a beater I suppose I mean an everyday, “go to” watch that I’m not overly concerned about as it’s an inherently tough build and it doesn’t represent a significant (in relative terms) investment. Something I don’t have to worry too much about.

In the past, my focus has been Seikos of one description or another. I’ve had at least half a dozen Tunas, and probably more than that in vintage 6309 and/or 6105 divers. The Tuna was always a favourite, actually, but whilst I love the fugly things the propensity NEVER to sit under any type of clothing proved to be a bit too annoying. Anyway, after a few weeks of wear I’ve concluded that I’ve found the perfect watch for the task. Built like a tank, just about adaptable enough to wear with reasonably smart clothes but an out and out beast of a tool watch when all’s said and done. On the bracelet I find it a touch on the heavy side, although it’s still comfortable enough; on a Zulu, though, it comes into its own. I have five different coloured straps for it, in fact, although in the photo below it’s on my current favourite.

Let’s hear it for the U1!

A long wait!

I love Sinn watches (that’s “Zinn” to you). They’re so… utilitarian and functional, and they just feel like they’ll last forever. I’ve had quite a few in the past, and until yesterday had just one in my collection, but over the years I’ve had a growing desire to own a U1. I’ve actually flipped a couple of UX’s as I’m not really a quartz man, but the U1 has had me hooked since I tried one on in Jura about three years ago. (Bea was with me at the time, and she said it was probably the ugliest watch that she’d ever seen).

It really is just a a big lump of beautiful, satiny steel… tegimented so it’s very, very hard but also with those quirky red and white hands that give it a completely unique look. It’s not shy at 44mm, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to wear overly large on the wrist – probably because of the relatively small and quite tapered lugs. Anyway, I’ve posted a couple of WTBs in the past and have been nagging one or two people repeatedly over the last few months. Nobody seems to let these go once they get their hands on them and I was also looking for a real minter, but a couple of days ago I happened to log on just as a really lovely example (less than a year old) was listed for sale. Hallelujah.

I had intended to put it straight onto a Di Modell Chronissimo but to be honest it looks so good on the bracelet I’ll probably leave it as is. It certainly isn’t a disappointment, anyway, and for me it makes the perfect weekend watch.

Another rare Sinn!

I’m a bit of a fan of Sinn watches. I’m a fan of the Lemania 5100 movement too, and not long ago both came together when I managed to pick up a really lovely 142 in great aged condition. I wrote about it here so I won’t bother rambling on about the movement again, but suffice it top say a friend from TZ-UK managed to convince me that I should trade it against his Autavia GMT. Now, I’d just sold the stunning NOS GMT I’d had for some time and was feeling a little bereft, so I agreed to the deal and let the Sinn slip through my fingers after just a few weeks. I shouldn’t have done that, really.

Anyway, I considered the situation for a while, and then decided to go on the hunt for the “real” first second automatic chronograph in space. Not the Seiko Pogue (that really was the first) and not the Sinn 142… but the 140, as worn by Reinhard Furrer back in 1985 aboard the Challenger. The 140 didn’t have the same dial layout nor did it have the same movement – but it was a Lemania-powered watch and I reckon the dial with it’s two registers was actually a little cleaner.

I was quite happily biding my time, in fact, when that same friend gave me a heads up that there was something slightly different available on another forum, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was the one for me. A few days later and it had landed from Italy, well packed and looking rather lush. The watch in question is a Sinn 157 St 12. It’s not very common, and I don’t recall seeing any before, but it’s certainly pretty interesting. The case is 40mm x 45mm x 15mm, and consequently wears far more easily than the plethora of similar 42mm variants. Despite it’s unusually small dimensions (although it’s still fairly thick) it really does have fantastic wrist presence. It also seems that the case itself was not manufactured by Sinn, but was a component that was outsourced and then assembled for Sinn by Guinand. I think Heuer used the same case (amongst others) as well, and dating from the early 80’s it was the time when there were some Bund contracts causing a fair degree of excitement (and some fierce inter-brand competition).

I can’t say much more about it, as it’s not a model that has had much written about it. This one is pretty much mint save for a small nibble and a couple of light scratches to the crystal (undisclosed, sadly). I may at some point send it to Sinn for a replacement, and if/when I do I’ll think about having the German date wheel replaced as well. It also has the “military” 12-hour chapter ring, although others had a tachymeter scale instead. I have no idea how the 12-hour scale was used from a functional perspective, but I’ll draw the line there and keep it as it was originally supplied.

The bracelet is as mint as the case, a period NSA job that is about as comfortable as a bracelet can be. The clasp closes nice and firmly so there’s no worry in wearing it, but the watch did come with a Di Modell Pilot and a German bund strap; and the original Sinn box, which is a nice extra. All in all, I think it’s a great find, and although the photos were all a bit rushed I hope they demonstrate what a lovely watch the 157 is.