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.

SOTC – 28/10/13

A couple of people asked me to post an up to date SOTC recently, so here it is – no changes of late and I won’t be selling any of these any time soon. I quite like the mix of modern and vintage, and there are quite a few different styles and complications in there. I must say that I’m particularly fond of the 806 (which needs a new strap) and the 5513, although I wear all of them regularly and get a lot of pleasure from each of them.

I had 17 watches not that long ago and am much more comfortable with a smaller and more manageable collection (that said, I do have a little package on the way). Anyway, I hope you like the pack-shot

So there I was…

…Sitting at home the other night giving myself a pat on the back for finally getting down to my target of 6 watches (not bad, considering I’d been on 17 just a few months ago). Anyway, I got to thinking about the ones I missed – not that high a proportion, considering I’ve flipped so many – and one of those that sprung to mind was my old Speedy “Grail”.

Now, I missed it partly for the lovely watch that it was but also because inside was the veritable Lemania 5100 movement, which in itself is more than a little interesting. It was the successor to the 1340/1341, which had been in production since 1972 or thereabouts, and was developed in order to provide a cost-effective alternative to the cheap quartz movements that were flooding the market at the time. The 5100 wasn’t innovative in any way (in fact, it’s considered somewhat antiquated) and it was actually made with one or two nylon parts – for example, the clutch wheel – as well as iron bearings in place of certain jewels that would otherwise have been used.

It was quite simply a rugged workhorse of a movement, but whilst it gained respect for that, the main reason that it has become so lauded over the years is because it offers a different and rather brilliant take on the chronograph functionality. Underneath the main chronograph hand is another (aeroplane-tipped) hand that actually traverses the dial counting off elapsed minutes; this is much easier to read than a sub-dial, and it means that there is only one chronograph-related sub-dial, that being the elapsed hours (at 6). At 9 is the sub-seconds and at 12 is a 24-hour register. Very different, very useful and very readable.

So, back to the other night, then, and I started off thinking about the Speedy and its movement. That got me thinking about the Ed White in my collection at the moment, with it’s rich history and heritage in terms of the space programme. And that’s when I had an epiphany, because I was bloody sure I recalled that there was also a Sinn that was used during the early years of the space programme, and which also used the L5100 movement. A few minutes of research, and I had identified the watch concerned – the Sinn 142.

This is actually an interesting watch. It was once thought to have been the first automatic chronograph in space, and indeed subsequent case backs were so engraved. However, that honour actually went to the Seiko “Pogue” 6139-6002, which spent a few months on the wrist of Colonel William Pogue aboard Skylab 4 in 1973. (Incidentally, although a lot of people believe that the L5100 was first used in 1978, from what I can gather it was actually developed for Omega in 1973, and used in the Speedmaster from the following year.)

Anyway, the Sinn 142 was worn – as the second automatic chronograph in space – by Reinhard Furrer aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985. Mission STS 61-a (also known as D1… remember that) was the 22[SUP]nd[/SUP] space shuttle mission, and was the last successful mission of the Challenger, which was destroyed during mission STS-51-L in 1986. STS-61-A currently holds the record for the largest crew, eight people, aboard any single spacecraft for the entire period from launch to landing.

So, those were the sparks in terms of both the movement and the watch that prompted me to post a “Want To Buy” ad the other day for a L5100-powered Sinn 142. No sooner had I posted it, than I had a message from a friend of mine saying that he’d actually just listed one for sale. Within minutes a deal had been done and a couple of days ago the watch landed on the doormat (well, I opened the door to the postman and carefully relieved him of the package). There are a few interesting things about this watch too.

Firstly, it carries the number 1420008 on the caseback. Bearing in mind the caseback is engraved with the D1 mission logo it doesn’t seem possible that it can be one of the earliest examples as this engraving only occurred after 1985 for obvious reasons; it also has the newer dial variant. Anyway, I’m waiting for Sinn to clarify the meaning of that number and hopefully all will be revealed shortly. The other interesting thing (but only for me, I imagine) is that it’s not mint, and shows very obvious signs that it’s been used as intended over the years. I’m currently trying to wean myself off only perfect and mark-free examples of older watches in order that I can wear them without worrying about them all the time. It remains to be seen whether or not I’m successful 🙂

Original Sinn

A few days ago, a member on TZ-UK posted a link to a rather rare and unusual Sinn that was listed on eBay by a jeweller/ watch dealer based in Essen, Germany. It was actually a Sinn 8820 diver, rare because they’re few in number and unusual because it was Sinn’s first titanium watch, preceding the 8829 when it was first released in (I think) 1995. The watch was causing a fair amount of interest – and admiration – but while all and sundry were singing its praises I decided to go one step further and buy it! In fact, it landed yesterday morning after lightning despatch and delivery.

I was a little confused when I first looked at it, largely due to the absence of “Swiss Made” on the dial and the numbers “12345” on the back. It transpires that the earliest samples released by Sinn had the sterile dial, but all of them bore the same sequence of numbers on the case back (which, I later realised, is not the serial number). The other striking thing about it is the recessed bezel, which allows a very slim case and what is an incredibly light and comfortable watch. The movement is an ETA 2892-A2, treated to a bit of decoration by Sinn prior to fitting, and the water resistance is 200m.

All in all, I think it’s a great watch – all the better, actually, for having a place in Sinn’s dive watch history. The only fault I can find with it is a little slackness when rotating the bezel, but that’s a minor gripe for a watch that looks as lovely as this (apologies – all the photos were handheld)…

Bundalike

I’ve been mulling over a tough, every-day watch for a while now and have been drawn to both Damasko and Sinn for all the obvious reasons. Damasko prices are a little toppy in my opinion, but I was recently tempted by a Sinn 155 that was listed on TZ-UK’s Sales Corner. I missed it first time around, but it’s now found its way to me as is so often the case in this incestuous world of buying and selling which we inhabit.

The 155 is a modern hommage to the Heuer Bundeswehr Chronograph. Manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s, the Bundeswehr was designed and built to German military specifications with a focus on durability. It had a manual flyback movement in a 43mm case and was intended to be particularly readable in a variety of adverse conditions. Sinn had a contract to refurbish these Heuers, and from what I can gather the release of the hommages was the consequence of having some 300 cases left over from that contract. This is where I’m a bit confused (or it’s a bit confusing) as from what I can tell there were two variants; the first housed a Valjoux 7760 handwound movement with no date but registers at 3 and 9 (much like the original Heuer) and these were produced specifically for the Japanese domestic market. The second appears to be a 7750-based three register version with day/date, and these were seemingly sold through Manufactum in Germany. I may even be wrong in thinking that both of these variants were from the same batch of 300 cases, and I have no idea what the connection is with the earlier Sinn 156, if any.

Frankly, I’m not going to worry about it unduly but if anyone can add some clarity to the above it would be appreciated. In the meantime, here’s a couple of shots showing the watch paired with a custom Camille Fournet sharkskin strap that I had in my strap box. Well, it may not be showing that very well because my photos tend to be a bit moody but it really is a very good match.

At last I can reach the murky depths…

The problem with collecting vintage watches is… well, they’re vintage; sometimes, however, one needs a modern watch to wear whilst doing things. (“What things?”, I hear you ask. I’m not sure, actually, but I’ll give it some thought.)

Anyway, I like Sinn watches, because the company is one of the more innovative around. I’ve also owned the SDR version of the UX diver before but couldn’t quite get on with the black bezel. However, the standard UX was worth giving another shot and here it is.

It features Hydro (i.e. oil-filled) technology and as you can see from the photos visibility is pretty much unaffected whatever angle you view the dial from; apparently this is particularly impressive underwater. Because it’s oil-filled its also very, very water resistant; the movement to 5000m, and the case to a whopping 12000m! That’ll be useful!

Beater schmeater – Sinn content!

I like the notion of a beater – you know, a watch for when the going gets tough… one that can get a little bit banged up without it mattering much. As I say, I like the notion – the trouble is, I try NEVER to allow anything to mark my watches, no matter how much they cost. (Well, that’s if you ignore the incident with a goal post that resulted in a couple of little scratched on my day-old Explorer II!)

Anyway, I do a lot of travelling across Europe these days, as well as working from my office from home. In either case I don’t necessarily want to wear my expensive watches (especially when travelling, because I seem to spend most of my time removing items of clothing – as well as my watch – at airport security checks). And whilst I have my Seiko Tuna, it really is a bit of a beast and not necessarily appropriate for semi-formal attire, which tends to be my style of dress when on business. With a suit and tie, it would look ridiculous!

To cut a long story short(er), I’ve been eyeing up the Sinn “U” range for quite a while, and have consequently treated myself to a UX SDR as an all-purpose tool watch but one that will also fit under a shirt cuff when it needs to. Sinn make some fantastic watches, and have lots of innovative technology. This one is made from tegimented German submarine steel; is filled with silicon oil; and as well as being readable from any angle is rated at 5000m water resistance That should help when I’m in the bath.

Oh, and it’s very cool. Look…