Tool watches are among the few types of modern watches that have been enjoying an uninterrupted track record of success and popularity. The reasons for that are as solid as the watches themselves: the best tool watches have been built to last, often using cutting edge technology, along with a keen eye for details such as wearability, legibility, usability. And one eternal tool watch favorite among truly knowledgeable watch enthusiasts remains the Sinn EZM line – here’s a detailed look at the very specific reasons.
First things first, the brand. At its foundation in 1961, Sinn’s focus was on navigation cockpit clocks and pilot’s wristwatches with maximum functionality and precision. That has since broadened to serve other professionals, including divers, special forces troops, fire-fighters and first responders. Last year Sinn created a small run of watches for current and former members of the Special Forces Command of the German military. But Sinn remains the quintessential tool watch brand, one that is arguably much, much more specialized than many upmarket rivals claim to be.
Second, the EZM name. EZM stands for Einsatzzeitmesser, German for “Mission Timer”. Imagine a specialist watchmaker sets out to create a watch (and later a full range of watches) called Einsatzzeitmesser – it’s no surprise that the EZM 1 was bona fide tool watch.
The EZM 1 was specifically created for special unit of German federal customs authority, the Zentrale Unterstützungsgruppe Zoll (ZUZ), or Central Customs Support Group. The design values that served as the foundation of the EZM 1 – and then the entire EZM line – were ensuring optimum readability and, as Sinn says, “perfect time measurement”.
Sinn EZM 12
The Sinn EZM 1 had a matte bead blasted titanium case, a matte black dial, a range of large and even larger indices, hands designed and sized for perfect legibility day and night, as well as a central-mounted 60-minute chronograph, or “mission timer.”
The nerd-fest didn’t end here: the EZM 1’s case incorporated Sinn’s patented Ar-Dehumidifying Technology that enhances functional reliability and eliminates moisture inside the case and a fogged up crystal by filling the case with Argon and embedding a copper sulphate capsule to absorb water. Additionally, the EZM 1 was designed and tested to remain functional between –20 °C and +70 °C.
For the EZM line’s 20th anniversary in 2017, Sinn launched the EZM 1.1, a tribute to the original watch that started it all back in 1997. Limited to just 500 units, the EZM 1.1 is destined to be a hard-to-find and highly coveted piece among not just collectors of the brand, but also die-hard fans of properly designed tool watches. Here are a few subtle, but notable differences between EZM 1 and 1.1.
Sinn EZM 1.1
Though the “Ar” logo is still discreetly printed on the dial at six, but noticeably present on the dial above the six o’clock position, it no longer refers to the inert gas that was originally used: the original Ar-Dehumidifying Technology relied on argon, hence the “Ar” logo, but Sinn has switched to filling the case with nitrogen, which it claims performs better and keeping the crystal clear from any humidity even in the most extreme of circumstances.
Speaking of extreme conditions: the EZM 1.1 has managed to stretch the temperature range in which it is functionally reliable: now you can count on your Sinn to work just fine between –45 °C and +80 °C – temperature levels most human beings, even with appropriate technical clothing, would have a hard time coping with.
The 43mm by 16.4mm steel case also features Sinn’s Tegiment treatment rendering it scratch-resistant. A captive bezel secured by screws so it doesn’t fall off, D3-System water-resisant pushers, low pressure and 20 bar (200m equivalent) pressure resistant construction renders the case a timekeeping-fortress on the wrist.
Inside the case is the famed SZ01 Sinn calibre, a proprietary development begun back in 2003. Sinn built it around the proven Valjoux 7750 architecture, but modified it such that both the chronograph’s jumping 60-minute counter and elapsed seconds are indicated by centrally mounted hands. That means no sub-dials are present to clutter up the EZM 1.1.
Sinn EZM 1.1
All in all, the Sinn EZM line both in its entirety and in its individual pieces is a remarkable feat in engineering and functionality-focused design and execution. The EZM 1 is among the most important modern tool watches, and to be given a chance of owning a piece comparable to the original only comes once every 20 years, so let us savour or, better still, live with this rare opportunity.
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Victor Toth – Czech Republic
Victor Toth is a Prague-based, professional photographer-turned-watch enthusiast and freelance journalist, whose journey into the complex world of fine watchmaking had begun a number of years ago. Over this time it has become his passion to share his understanding of the finer details of beautiful timepieces, all in an effort to encourage a more thorough appreciation of this wonderful and complex universe of fine mechanics.