Undercover Wrist: Six Noteworthy Camouflage Watches

Not just intended for outdoor recreation these days, camouflage has emerged as a trendy and bold alternative for your daily wristwear. Found on both watch straps and dials, the military-focused hue isn’t one normally associated with the luxury world of watchmaking but it has evolved into a distinct look for those in search of a design that blurs the line between tactical and tony. With more and more watch brands embracing camouflage, it’s easy to get lost in the (horological) woods, so here’s our guide to six of the more noteworthy introductions from the past few years.

At SIHH 2018, Audemars Piguet debuted dozens of new timepieces. One of the more controversial pieces was a Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph that featured a camouflage strap, a khaki-green ceramic bezel, and a beige dial. While the strap definitely embodies the camouflage “look,” it’s the bezel and dial combination that really stand out. The beige oozes a sort of creamy charisma that matches seamlessly with the brown subdials and almost forest-green bezel. It’s priced at $31,000. You can read more here.

The Royal Oak Offshore Self-winding Chronograph with a Khaki Green Bezel and Camouflage Strap
Bell & Ross was one of the trailblazers in the camouflage race with the look being a mainstay in the brand’s lineup since 2007. The latest update came last summer with the release of the BR03-92 Black Camo. For the dark dial, the brand developed an original, military-style tricolor coating with a patchwork of matte gray tones that simulate the camouflage used by elite military commandos for stealth missions. The 42-mm case is made of black ceramic with a matte finish – another nod to actual mission utility, as it renders the watch nearly undetectable in the dark and helps to avoid unwanted reflections. Ceramic was chosen as the case material for other practical reasons: it is almost entirely scratch resistant, tougher yet lighter than steel, hypoallergenic, and heat resistant enough to wear in the world’s most brutally hot battle zones. Inside the case, which is water resistant to 100 meters, the watch’s self-winding movement, Caliber BR-CAl.302 (based on a Sellita SW300-1), performs its own mission, powering the hours, minutes, central seconds and date and amassing a 38-hour power reserve when fully wound. The watch is available on either a black rubber strap or an “ultra-resilient” black synthetic fabric strap, both with pin buckles made of black PVD-coated steel. The price is $3,800. You can read more here.

First released at Baselworld 2016, the Graham Chronofighter Black Arrow was an extension of the Chronofighter range with a military bent. Available in four different colors – blue, gray, beige and green – the watches were noted for featuring a telemeter complication at 3 o’clock. A telemeter can measure distances between an event and an observer based on the speed of sound, so this new lineup has a practical military application compared to a time-and-date-only watch. The 47-mm watch has a ceramic bezel and features a 30-minute counter at 6 o’clock. Inside the watch is the g1747 movement with a 48-hour power reserve. It’s priced at $8,050.

In 2017, TAG Heuer introduced a heavy-duty version of its Aquaracer with a blue camouflage dial. Water resistant up to 300 meters and powered by the brand’s automatic Calibre 5, the watch is enclosed in a 43-mm titanium case and has an anti-reflective flat sapphire crystal (for photo or tactical ops). The blue dial is a seamless mix of subdued style and military influence, making it ideal for the adventurous watch enthusiast. Price: $2,800.

In 2017, Anonimo updated its Militare Alpini with two new camouflage chronograph options. The bronze model comes in either brown or khaki green and features a guilloché-style dial that updates its military look. The 43-mm watch has the typical identifiers of an Anonimo Militare timepiece, namely the crown at 12 o’clock with its patented protector, and the 12, 4 and 8 o’clock numerals enlarged and in focus to form the “A” of Anonimo. Inside the watch is a Sellita SW300 automatic movement with a Dubois Dépraz 2035 chronograph module developed exclusively for the brand. It has a power reserve of 42 hours. on the titanium caseback? An image of the Matterhorn, the iconic mountain that, like Anonimo, has a foot in both Italy and Switzerland. Both brown and khaki-green versions are limited to 97 total pieces each and are priced at $5,390. For a hands-on review of the khaki-green-dialed model, click here.

The sole German brand on this list, Sinn released the U1 Camouflage in 2016 as a limited edition of 500. The watch is completely made from bead-blasted german submarine steel and has a water resistance rating of 1,000 meters. The surface of the bezel has been hardened using Tegiment Technology – a proprietary metal hardening technique – to make it scratch resistant. Inside the watch is the Sellita SW 200-1, with a 38-hour power reserve. The 44-mm watch comes on a matching green silicone strap, with an additional olive textile strap to switch. It’s priced at $2,160.

Bring On the Water! 11 Watches Built for Water Sports

In addition to diving, water sports include sailing, surfing and even fishing. The appropriate watch can be a topic of conversation during breaks but also provides valuable time-related information. As Spring begins to usher in Summer, here are 11 water-sports watches worth checking out.

OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN ETNZ “DEEP BLACK” MASTER CHRONOMETER

Omega Planet Ocean ETNZ Deep Black
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean ETNZ “Deep Black” Master Chronometer ($11,200)

As sponsor of the Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) yachting crew, Omega knows what yachtsmen need. A 15-minute countdown precedes each start in a regatta. Omega displays this countdown with blue and red rubber markings on the black ceramic bezel of this Seamaster. The word “START” indicates the countdown’s final 5 minutes. Like the bezel, the 45.5-mm case and the dial are also made of ceramic. The dial bears a blue-and-red 24-hour scale to show the time in a second zone. Automatic Caliber 8906 powers the four central hands. This seaworthy watch remains watertight to 600 meters and has a black textile strap with an inner layer of rubber.

ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL YACHT-MASTER II

Rolex Yacht-Master II
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II ($18,750)

Rolex premiered its first regatta watch 10 years ago. Since then, the Yacht-Master II has become a classic that’s currently available in stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold and in a bicolor variation combining stainless steel and rose gold. Rolex recently modified the dial so the hour hand of the Yacht-Master II now bears Rolex’s characteristic “Mercedes” symbol. The hour markings at 6 and 12 were also reworked. A feature of the Yacht-Master II is that the countdown can be programmed using the bezel and crown. The countdown also continues to run even when the chronograph is stopped and returned to zero. The stainless-steel version has a 44-mm case that stays watertight to 100 meters and encases chronometer-certified automatic Caliber 4161.

ULYSSE NARDIN MARINE REGATTA CHRONOGRAPH

Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta
Ulysse Nardin Marine Regatta Chronograph ($15,900)

Having just been awarded the Sports Watch Prize at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in Geneva, Ulysse Nardin’s Marine Regatta Chronograph comes with a bidirectional chronograph counter that automatically begins timing the race once the countdown is complete, thus eliminating the need to hit the restart button at the precise moment the race begins. The 650-component Caliber UN-155 is based on automatic chronograph Caliber UN-153 and has a three-day power reserve. The 44-mm case is stainless steel and has a fluted bezel with rubber inserts, molded rubber pushers, a screw-down crown and 100-meter water resistance. There are two dial variations.

ANONIMO NAUTILO NATO

Anonimo Nautilo NATO
Anonimo Nautilo NATO ($2,350)

Some surfers spend a lifetime waiting for the perfect wave. If a long wait beside a sluggish sea puts a surfer in a dour mood, the colorful Anonimo Nautilo Nato will surely lift his spirits. This sports watch’s 44.4-mm case is watertight to 200 meters and boasts a yellow or green flange around a black dial. The chosen color is repeated in the accent stripes on the NATO strap and in the counterweight on the end of the seconds hand. The 15-minute scale on the black ceramic bezel is more than just a colorful element in the design; the yellow or green color makes it especially legible. The crown at 4 o’clock is a distinguishing feature of the Nautilo collection. This positioning is very practical because it ensures that the crown will not press uncomfortably against the back of the wearer’s hand and allows automatic Caliber SW200 to be reset easily.

BREMONT SUPERMARINE TYPE 301

Bremont S301
Bremont Supermarine Type 301 ($4,095)

To commemorate the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, Bremont introduced a series of watches with Regatta chronograph calibers. But the British brand also launched two new models in Bremont’s Supermarine divers’ watch series, the Type 300 and Type 301, which were a response to Bremont customers’ demands for sports watches with slightly smaller case dimensions. For divers who want a more vintage look, there is the Type 301 pictured here, which has Super-LumiNova-filled hour indexes instead of Arabic numerals on its matte black dial. Both the Type 300 and the Type 301 are powered by Bremont Caliber BE-92AE, an automatic, chronometer-certified movement with a 38-hour-minimum power reserve. All three new Supermarine dive watches are offered on stainless-steel bracelets, calf leather straps, or NATO straps with pin buckles.

SINN 240 ST GZ

Sinn 240-ST-GZ
Sinn 240 ST GZ ($1,830)

The Sinn 240 St GZ can track tides with the help of an internal bezel. The rotating tide bezel can be used to read the relative water level of a location in terms of current tide, i.e., the time until the next high tide. All the owner needs to know is the time of the last high tide (for example, from a tide table or tide calendar) and correlate this with the triangular mark “HW 1” on the rotating bezel. Expected water levels of the next high tide can then be read from the “HW 2” mark. The 240 St GZ is powered by an SW220-1 automatic movement. The 43-mm case is made of stainless steel and is water resistant to 100 meters.

MÜHLE-GLASHÜTTE LUNOVA CHRONOGRAPH

Muhle Glashutte Lunova Chronograph
Mühle-Glashütte Lunova Chronograph ($2,349)

Whole days can drift languidly by with a fishing rod in one’s hand and a Lunova Chronograph on one’s wrist. Thanks to automatic Caliber SW500, this chronograph from Mühle-Glashütte can tally elapsed intervals up to 30 minutes and 12 hours, while also displaying the date and the day of the week. The design of this 42.3-mm stainless-steel watch, which remains watertight to 100 meters, is both sporty and elegant, with orange accents, a brown leather strap, and a case with alternating polished and brushed surfaces. And this handsome watch can continue to perch atop its wearer’s wrist in the evening when he sits down to dine on the fish he caught earlier in the day.

PANERAI LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE 1950 3 DAYS AUTOMATIC TITANIO

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio ($9,200)

Sometimes marine animals are more stimulating companions than barflies sitting beside a swimming pool. When you start to feel this way, it’s high time to take a dive. The Panerai Luminor Submersible can accompany you down to 300 meters. This divers’ watch combines a 47-mm titanium case, unidirectional rotatable bezel and characteristic crown guard. The dial is black, as is usual for Panerai, but the seconds hand adds a lone blue accent. Manufacture Caliber P.9010 animates this model.

IWC AQUATIMER AUTOMATIC 2000 EDITION “35 YEAR OCEAN 2000”

IWC Aquatimer Automatic Edition 35Years Ocean 2000
IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 Edition “35 Year Ocean 2000” ($7,400)

An appropriate topic for conversation among divers: IWC and Porsche Design collaboratively engineered a divers’ watch 35 years ago that complied with specifications stipulated by the German Armed Forces and military frogmen. The PD Ocean 2000 had a 42-mm titanium case that remained watertight to 2,000 meters. IWC was among the first brands to use titanium for many of its watches. Now a special model in the Aquatimer collection recalls the legendary PD Ocean 2000. The new model is released in a limited edition of 350 watches – another topic for conversation. The exterior-interior rotatable bezel is tempting to play with whenever there’s a dull moment, and it’s also very useful when beginning a dive. And the case keeps automatic Caliber ETA 2892 well protected against potential water damage up to a pressure of 200 bar.

MEISTERSINGER SALTHORA META X

Meistersinger Salthora Blue
Meistersinger Salthora Meta X ($3,350)

Telling more with less: MeisterSinger’s new Salthora Meta X comes with a unidirectional bezel with 60-minute scale and a central minutes hand (but no seconds hand, which would be required to meet the ISO standards for dive watches). Most importantly, the hour (which isn’t that important for a dive) is shown in the circular window at 12 o’clock using an instant jumping mechanism. The stainless-steel case of the Salthora Meta X is 43 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 200 meters; the bezel inlay is made of ceramic. The watch is powered by an ETA 2824-2 or Sellita 200-1 and equipped with a module for the “jumping hour.” The Salthora Meta X is available in three different versions. One model has a black dial, a red hand and red digits on a white background; a second model is designed with green digits and a green hand; the third version comes with its dial and rotating bezel in deep blue with white digits.

UTS 1000M V2 DIVE WATCH PACIFIC HORIZON

UTS 1000M Dive Watch Pacific Horizon
UTS 1000M Dive Watch Pacific Horizon (3,000 euros)

If you’re looking for something with “wrist presence,” thanks to the lugs and the massive case design, typical of UTS watches, the UTS 1000M has a total weight of 255 grams when worn on the stainless-steel bracelet that’s supplied with the watch. The optional sapphire crystal on the back of UTS’s 42-mm diver is impressive from an engineering point of view (given the water resistance of 1,000 meters) and offers the owner the chance to see the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement in action. the dial has a two-layered look, with a galvanic blue finish over an inner sunray pattern; the date disk between 4 and 5 o’clock is black. UTS also offers a black-dial model and a GMT version with a different bezel.

An Inside Look at the Various Technologies Pioneered by Sinn

When mechanical engineer Lothar Schmidt took control of the Frankfurt-based Sinn watch brand in 1994, he planned to use his technical knowledge and add innovative technologies to Sinn’s watches to enhance their functionality. The brand was founded in 1961 by pilot Helmut Sinn and sold pilots’ watches using Swiss private-label products. Schmidt renamed the firm Sinn Spezialuhren (Special watches) and the new company developed its first watch, manufactured with its own tools, in 1994. Model 244 had magnetic-field protection and a freely oscillating suspended movement. In 1995, Sinn premiered a 22k gold watch fabricated from a newly created alloy that made the precious metal as scratch resistant as stainless steel. That same year, Sinn introduced its complex Ar-Dehumidifying Technology for divers’ watches in the 203 Ti Ar. Other innovations soon followed. Schmidt transformed the brand into a company with its own technology, its own tools and its own development department. The private-label era was over.

Sinn - Lothar Schmidt
As an engineer, Sinn CEO Lothar Schmidt values innovation.

Schmidt entered the watch industry in a roundabout way. After earning a degree in engineering and serving in the German military, he started working at an engineering plant in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In 1976, he joined the Bräuchy case factory, also in La Chaux-de-Fonds, as a technical director. But he wanted to return to Germany, so in 1981 he applied for a position at VDO, a German company that makes parts for automobiles. VDO had recently purchased Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC and the firm was glad to hire someone with experience in case manufacturing. So Schmidt joined IWC in Schaffhausen, first working in the production and development divisions and later serving as a director. He stayed until 1994, when he took control of Sinn.

In addition to developing new watches, Schmidt retained some of the Sinn models that had been particularly successful. Model series 103, 140, 144 and 903, which are still in the brand’s current collection, were manufactured using Sinn’s own tools. They were given their final polishing, upgraded to state of the art and gradually equipped with Sinn technologies.

In subsequent years, Sinn developed Einsatzzeitmesser (mission timepieces), or EZM, which were specially made for professionals, including pilots, divers, firefighters, paramedics, rescue teams and special units of the German police, armed forces and navy.

The focus at Sinn was always on function. Everything unnecessary was left out. Clearly recognizable hands and indexes with plenty of luminous material formed the basis for good legibility. At the same time, Sinn developed technologies that made the brand’s watches even more robust and readable.

Ar-Dehumidifying Technology
One of Sinn’s most complex and innovative techniques is its Ar-Dehumidifying Technology, originally developed to prevent fogging on the underside of the crystals of its divers’ watches. This is caused by extreme temperature change, such as plunging into cool water on a hot day. Moisture condenses on the lower surface of the watch crystal and the fogging that results makes it hard to read the watch.

The technology is based on improved insulators, filling the watch with protective gas and stay-dry capsules. The insulators are made from Viton, a green material that lasts longer than the black nitrile insulators commonly used. It admits four times less gas and humidity into a watch’s interior than nitrile insulators and resists chemical corrosion better. Viton is also used for the two O-ring insulators and the flat seal for the crown. If an insulator is not available in the desired size, Schmidt will make the investment and build the tools to make it.

SINN Anti-Humidity technology
Sinn fills the stay-dry capsules with copper sulfate, which absorbs humidity.

Ar-Dehumidifying Technology got its name because the case was originally filled with argon (Ar), a noble gas with large molecules. Now Sinn uses nitrogen. The case is filled with a protective gas because the gas’s presence makes it more difficult for humidity to penetrate the case. The protective gas has a lower dew point, so moisture doesn’t begin to condense until much later.

If, despite the improved insulators and the protective gas, humidity still gets into the case, then the moisture is absorbed by powdered copper sulfate inside built-in desiccant capsules. A viewing window lets the wearer see whether the capsules are still absorbent (white) or already saturated (blue) and need to be replaced. On newer models, the viewing window is placed prominently on the dial at 6 o’clock rather than in the case. This change affords additional security because it eliminates one extra opening in the case. The newest version of the technology includes three additional desiccant capsules in the back or in the movement-holder ring.

The dry atmosphere inside the case lengthens the lifespan of the lubricant oil and helps prevent corrosion in the movement.

Temperature Resistance Technology
The rate of a mechanical watch worsens rapidly if the temperature gets hotter than 30° C (86° F). Cold conditions, on the other hand, make lubricant oil so viscous that chilled watches will eventually stop running entirely. With its Temperature Resistance Technology, Sinn has found a way to guarantee the proper functioning of its watches even when they’re exposed to temperatures from the frigid cold of -45° C (-49° F) to the sweltering heat of +80° C (176° F). Here, too, Schmidt relies on a technique with several components. The most important ingredient is special oil that maintains an unchanged viscosity throughout a much wider temperature range than conventional lubricant oils. Sinn sends this oil to ETA and Sellita to use to lubricate the movements destined for Sinn. The oil is equally suitable for the pallet jewels, the gear train and the balance’s bearings.

SINN 900 DIAPAL watch
Cutting-edge technologies are built into the Sinn 900 Diapal, which has a lubricant-free escapement, tegiment-hardened case, Ar-Dehumidifying and Temperature Resistance Technologies, and protection against magnetic fields ($4,310).

Hydro Technology
The Hydro technology Sinn uses for its divers’ watches ensures that their crystals are not susceptible to fogging, their dials uphold optimal legibility under water and their cases resist pressure down to every conceivable depth. For Hydro technology, which is used in watches in the UX series, the case is filled with a colorless nonconductive liquid, whose specifications Sinn won’t reveal.

Two problems arise when a watch is filled with liquid. First, liquids expand when heated, so the backs of the cases of Sinn’s current models are built from several parts and the inner part can move slightly outward to compensate for the larger volume of warmed liquid. The second arises because liquid has a much greater density than air, so fluid would exert too strong a braking effect on the balance in a mechanical movement. Therefore, Hydro technology can only be used with quartz calibers. Tests performed with Sinn’s extreme-pressure device have shown that the capsule containing the vibrating quartz crystal is sometimes squeezed at depths below 6,500 meters, causing the watch to stop running. Therefore, Hydro watches are suitable for dives “only” to a maximum depth of 5,000 meters.

This extreme pressure resistance is only one advantage of Hydro technology. The liquid that Sinn uses has the same refractive index as sapphire crystal, so the watch can be read underwater from any viewing angle. And the crystal never fogs up: condensation cannot occur because there is no air inside the case.

SINN EZM10 watch
The EZM 10 encases Sinn’s Caliber SZ01, the brand’s revised version of the ETA Valjoux 7750, which Sinn equips with a central elapsed-minutes counter ($5,480).

Tegiment Hardening
Impacts against rocks or equipment are nearly unavoidable during rigorous missions underwater or on dry land. Here, too, Schmidt wanted to improve functionality. To make its watch cases less susceptible to scratches, Sinn uses a technique called “tegimenting.” The case is sent to a specialist in Germany, where a “Kolsterising” method is used to harden the steel on and near the metal’s surface. This hardening is not a coating: the steel itself is transformed into a protective sheath.

Creating the scratch-resistant surface means that the hardened cases cannot be processed using conventional methods. Sinn’s watch cases are built by Sächsische Uhrentechnologie GmbH Glashütte (SUG), where Schmidt is a co-founder and majority shareholder, but he prefers to keep all aspects of the tegimenting process at Sinn. So there’s a dedicated room in Sinn’s Frankfurt facility, equipped with the necessary machinery, where processing methods are developed and utilized.

Tegiment technology works well with 316L stainless steel, the steel alloy that’s most commonly used in the watch world. But this method can achieve even better results with harder 904L steel, which is more resistant to corrosion by saltwater and which Sinn uses in its divers’ watches. “Submarine steel,” developed by the German submarine-building industry, achieves the hardest surface when tegimented. Sinn even uses the tegimenting technique with titanium. A tegimented case also serves as a good material to be coated with ultra-hard black PVD.

Sinn watchmaking
Sinn’s watchmakers go into the workings of the movement with Diapal technology with a new escape wheel and to create modifications like those in the SZ01.

Anti-reflective Treatment
The crystals above the dials of most Sinn watches are made from sapphire. Glaring reflections may detract from legibility, so Sinn, like many other manufacturers, has its crystals anti-reflectively treated. But the coatings often have a bluish tinge and scratch easily. Schmidt looked for a solution and found one in a different sector: namely, coatings applied to the surfaces of optical equipment lenses and eyeglasses. The method, while costly, results in an anti-reflective coating that is nearly colorless and almost as hard as its sapphire substrate. Sinn uses this coating on models that are equipped with other in-house technologies.

Safeguarded Against Low Pressure
A little-known technology guarantees that all of Sinn’s models are secured against low pressure. If a pilot is cruising at an altitude of 12,000 meters (39,370 feet) and a sudden explosion tears an opening in the aircraft’s pressurized cabin, the pressure aboard the airplane will decline abruptly. Suddenly, the pressure inside the pilot’s watch will be higher than the pressure in the environment, so the excess internal pressure can cause the crystal to burst. Sinn uses special construction methods to keep its watches from breaking under such conditions, but will not reveal any details.

How well this technology functions was shown in 2014, when Robert Alan Eustace wore a Sinn 857 UTC TESTAF on his wrist during a sky dive from the stratosphere. He leapt from an aircraft at an altitude of 41.4 kilometers (about 25.7 miles) and plunged into the extreme low pressure and frigid cold (-77° C or -106.6° F) of the stratosphere. In the course of his freefall, he broke the sound barrier and continued to accelerate until he reached a maximum speed of 1,322 kilometers per hour (821.5 miles per hour).

Alan Eustace wearing Sinn
Robert Alan Eustace wore a Sinn 857 UTC TESTAF when he plunged from the stratospheric height of 41.4 kilometers and broke the sound barrier in freefall.

Resistance to Saltwater Corrosion
Another danger for watches lurks in the ocean: salt. Watch cases are usually made from non-rusting stainless steel, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t corrode. Prolonged exposure to saltwater, especially in combination with warmth, can gradually corrode the surface. Divers’ watches should be resistant to corrosion by saltwater; the degree of resistance is expressed by the PRE value. (“PRE” stands for “pitting resistance equivalent.”) A watch with a PRE value of 32 is rated as resistant to saltwater. Higher PRE values are more resistant. The steel most frequently used for watch cases, the 316L alloy, has a PRE value of 24, so if these cases have been immersed in saltwater, they should be rinsed with freshwater afterward. Sinn is increasingly using 904L steel, which has a PRE value of 35 and is highly resistant to corrosion by saltwater.

Sinn uses submarine steel for the cases of many of its divers’ watches. This steel has a PRE value of 39. Other favorable characteristics are its strength and its special elastic behavior, which keeps submarines from springing leaks. It cannot become magnetized, and Sinn gives the metal its tegiment treatment for scratch resistance. Titanium is even more saltwater resistant: it doesn’t react to seawater at all. Sinn uses titanium in its T1 and T2 divers’ watches.

Sinn Temperature Test
Sinn tests its Temperature Resistant Technology for 24 hours inside a climate cabinet cooled to a frigid -45 C (-49 F).

Secured Rotatable Bezel
A typical rotatable bezel is merely pressed onto the case from above. To remove it, a watchmaker simply pries it upward until it snaps off the case. But a watch can lose such a bezel, for example, when a diver snags his watch on a submerged rock. To prevent this, Sinn developed the “impossible-to-lose” rotatable bezel. A clamping ring is fit into a groove in the bezel and then pressed into a matching groove in the case, where it is affixed by three screws. The connection is secure, but it also can be easily released.

The secured rotatable bezel, which Sinn uses on its T1 and T2 divers’ watches, also offers protection against unintentional resetting of the dive-time scale. Before beginning a dive, the diver turns the bezel until its luminous index is opposite the tip of the minutes hand; afterward he can see how long he has been underwater by glancing at his watch. If his diving computer malfunctions, he can use his bathometer and the dive-time scale on his watch to estimate approximately when he needs to begin swimming upward without having to interrupt his ascent for a decompression stop.

For safety’s sake, the bezel and its dive-time scale can only be rotated counterclockwise, which means that an inadvertent resetting can only lengthen the displayed dive time. Of course, it would be even better if the bezel couldn’t possibly be repositioned by accident, hence Sinn’s secured rotatable bezel, which cannot be turned at all unless its user simultaneously presses inward on two diametrically opposite points.

Sinn Magnetic-Resistant case
To protect the movement against magnetic fields up to 80,000 A/m, Sinn uses a protective shield consisting of a closed, magnetically soft inner case that includes the dial, the movement-holder ring and the caseback.

Magnetic Field Protection
Magnetic fields lurk everywhere: for example, in cellphones, loudspeakers and electric motors. They can disturb the rate behavior of watches because the hairspring is particularly sensitive to their influence. Modern movements are classified as “antimagnetic” if they do not deviate from correct timekeeping by more than 30 seconds per day when exposed to a magnetic field with an intensity of 4,800 A/m. But even the magnetic field surrounding an ordinary household magnet is four times stronger than that. Sinn found that 60 percent of all watches sent to its customer service department in Frankfurt had become magnetized and kept time imprecisely.

Sinn relies on a technique that was first developed for watches in the 1950s: an additional case made of magnetically soft material keeps magnetic fields away from the movement. Sinn’s protective shield usually consists of the dial, the movement-holder ring and an inner caseback. Watches equipped with this protection are undisturbed by magnetic fields up to an intensity of 80,000 A/m or 1,000 gauss.

Movement Modifications
Sinn doesn’t shy away from enhancing its movements if the modifications improve their functioning. Diapal technology is a good example. As we explained earlier, oil is a critical factor in mechanical watches. An especially vulnerable spot is in the escapement at the points of contact between the synthetic ruby pallet jewels on the lever and the steel teeth on the escape wheel. These parts strike against one another, which means that the oil here doesn’t last as long as it does in slide bearings located elsewhere in the movement. Insufficient oil at this spot has an extremely adverse effect on the accuracy of the rate. If the oil is absent, the watch won’t run at all after a few “oil-less” weeks have passed.

SINN EZM12 in Arctic
The EZM 12 with Temperature Resistance Technology was photographed during a research expedition in the Antarctic ($3,560).

Sinn’s specialists haven’t yet invented an oil-free watch, but they have devised an oil-free escapement. Sinn began working to solve this problem in 1995. The term “Diapal” was coined during the first experiments using diamond rather than ruby pallets – and the name was kept. The pairing of diamond and steel improved the “dry” performance, i.e. without oil, but failed to achieve the amplitude values of a lubricated escapement. This became possible somewhat later, when Diapal technology was used in tandem with a nano-coating on the escape wheel. Nowadays Sinn arranges to have its escape wheels made from a special material. The lever with ruby pallets can remain unaltered. The duo with the new escape wheel runs without lubricant, but nonetheless has less friction than a conventional oiled pairing. The resulting amplitude is so high that Sinn must take countermeasures to reduce it.

In this technique, highly trained watchmakers join a pinion to the specially made escape wheel, which is manufactured from a special alloy, and then insert the ensemble into the movement. A Diapal watch can be identified by its anthracite-colored dial with black counters. All Diapal watches rely on the same caliber: an ETA Valjoux 7750, which has been modified so that rather than showing the day of the week, it indicates the time in a second time zone in 12-hour format.

SINN UX Hydro-technology
The Hydro technology in the UX ($2,460) guarantees perfect legibility under water. Shown on the right: a case without liquid filling.

Also noteworthy is Caliber SZ01, which Sinn constructed based on the ETA Valjoux 7750 and which improves legibility. A special feature is that it’s equipped with a jumping 60-minute elapsed time hand, which sweeps its orbits from the center of the dial. This makes the elapsed minutes more legible than when shown on subdials.

There is plenty of work to do in the watchmakers’ atelier, where all movements are encased and all hands are inserted. In addition to modifying the base movements, these watchmakers assemble 14,000 watches annually. Schmidt proudly shows us another technology here: it reduces dust and thus lengthens the period during which customers can enjoy an accurately running watch. Each workstation is equipped with ionizers that rely on ozone to release dust adhering to case parts; the loosened specks can be blown off the surface with compressed air. Static electricity causes dust to cling so tenaciously to the components that pressurized air alone cannot fully free the parts from dust.

Tests and Certifications
Schmidt pursues unorthodox paths to test the functions of his watches and to certify the high developmental status of the techniques. He sends his divers’ watches to the DNV GL, an independent company that tests and certifies their pressure resistance, water tightness and insusceptibility to fogging and verifies that the timepieces satisfy the European standards for diving equipment. Furthermore, each divers’ watch is also tested at Sinn in Frankfurt at 125 percent of its rated pressure resistance.

SINN 856 B-Uhr watch
SINN 856 B-Uhr watch

Gazing Into the Future
Sinn’s new headquarters in Frankfurt has more than 50,000 square feet of floor space, twice as much as the old location. While guiding our tour of the new site, Schmidt reported that Sinn has now been able to further increase its vertical range of manufacturing. He also emphasized that numerous other technologies are in the planning stages. The new building symbolizes the success that this engineer’s brand enjoys with its innovative technologies.

Chrono in Camo: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph

Despite the industry-wide focus on its much-discussed, much-debated new Code 11:59 collection, Audemars Piguet actually did launch several other noteworthy new timepieces in 2019, most of them extensions of the manufacture’s Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore families. From the latter series hails three new Selfwinding Chronograph models with colorful ceramic case elements and color-coordinated camouflage-motif rubber straps.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph - Green camo
The new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronographs feature colorful ceramic case elements, including the classic octagonal bezel.

Audemars Piguet began dipping into a bolder color palette for the Offshore series — launched in 1993 as a bigger, more technically oriented version of the original Royal Oak — in 2017, with its “funky color” models, and experimented with a military-look camouflage design last year (you can check out that watch here). This year’s new Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph models use colored, high-tech ceramic for the bezel, chronograph pushers, and screw-locked crown. Ceramic, as most watch aficionados are aware by now, is harder than steel, temperature and scratch-resistant, and hypoallergenic, and adding color to it is a long, complex process that involves achieving just the right pigmentation. The chocolate brown ceramic used for the octagonal bezel of the only rose-gold model in the new series, is a standout, used here for the first time by Audemars Piguet.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph - Brown camo
Brown ceramic, used for the first time by AP, highlights the 18k rose gold model.

The other two models use satin-finished steel for their cases, with ceramic bezels and details in blue or military green. The colors of the bezels are also echoed in the watches’ dials, which feature the “Mega Tapisserie” motif emblematic of the Royal Oak Offshore, and in the camo pattern straps, which are made of robust rubber and integrate seamlessly into the cases’ lugs. The tricompax dial layout offers subdials at 12, 9, and 6 o’clock and a round date window at 3 o’clock. Surrounding the dial, with its gold hands and applied hour markers, is a rhodium-toned outer scale, while the flange hosts a white-on-black tachymeter scale.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph - Blue camo
The Royal Oak Offshore “Mega Tapisserie” dials match the colors of the bezels and camo-pattern straps.

The case, both steel and gold version, is water-resistant to 100 meters. Inside, beneath a clear sapphire caseback, beats Audemars Piguet’s manufacture Caliber 3126/3840, a self-winding, chronograph-equipped movement with 59 jewels, a 21,600-vph frequency, and a minimum 50-hour power reserve. Each of the models comes with an additional color-coordinated strap (in brown, blue, or khaki green) to swap out with the camo strap for a (slightly) more understated look. Prices are $32,200 for the steel-and-ceramic models, and $48,300 for the rose-gold-and-brown-ceramic model.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph - Blue camo - back
Audemars Piguet’s automatic Caliber 3126/3840 is visible through the caseback.

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Laco Navy Cuxhaven And Bremerhaven

Germany’s Laco isn’t a brand we frequently feature in this series. Part of the reason for this has to do with the brand’s relevancy in the American market, while another part has to do with its being overshadowed by numerous other German brands with stronger messaging. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean Laco isn’t offering good watches, and I would argue, in fact, that it released two of its most underrated pieces so far in 2019: the Navy Cuxhaven And Bremerhaven.

Laco Navy Watches - reclining

The two new watches are inspired by two different models, a 1940s pocketwatch and a another model “resembling the watches of the crew on board the U1 submarine” (that is, a German U-boat). Laco doesn’t actually call out the specific references or offer photography of either model, but 1940s war-era German watch designs are some of the best known in the history of watches, so spotting the similarities isn’t an arcane exercise.

Laco Navy Cuxhaven - flat

The new Navy models use a 42.5-mm polished and sandblasted case, with an attractive fluted bezel and matching textured crown. On the dial of the two watches, differentiated only by the Bremerhaven being black and the Cuxhaven being white, you’ll notice an outer railroad-track minute ring punctuated with Super-LumiNova markers at teach of the hours, and further punctuated with printed Arabic numerals within those. At the bottom of the dial is a sunburst-finish subdial that contrasts well with the main dial’s more matte finish. At the top of the dial is the classic script Laco logo, with two sword-and-syringe hands passing over the face to tell the time.

Laco Navy Bremerhaven - dial CU

Inside the two watches is the manually wound Laco 98, which is a Laco-finished ETA 6498.1 Elaboré, with a 46-hour power reserve and visible through a sapphire caseback. Currently the watch is on sale through Laco’s website or at an authorized dealer, for just below $1,200.

Laco Navy watch - side

The watch clearly employs some vintage references in its design, as one can see by the railroad minute track, the hour-marker accents and numerals, and the somewhat pilot-inspired crown. It’s a relatively simple design overall, but it nonetheless is effective in recalling World War II-era motifs. The most obvious vintage styling is seen in the hands, which — while uncommon in their look both historically and in today’s watch world — help recall the sword style common during the era that inspired the watch.

Laco Navy watch - back

I have read some commentary about the watch that the manually wound movement and the watch’s size also recall vintage attributes. That the movement does so is obvious: automatic movements didn’t enter major popularity until the late 1950s, so it would’ve been off-beat for the two new models to veer away from the older style. Yet the sizing— 42.5-mm — isn’t large enough to honestly replicate a pocketwatch sizing, and isn’t small enough to recall a 1940s-era field watch; it’s primarily a modern diameter, seen very rarely in time-only pieces prior to the last few decades.

Other modern elements in the new pieces are in the fluted bezel — which, while existing as a trait in vintage watches like the Omega Constellation and Rolex Datejust series since their releases in 1945 and 1952, respectively, was very unlikely to be seen on functional-only, pre-golden-era military models. The final contemporary advancement is in the overall quality of manufacturing: the edges are clean, the dial is precisely executed with great contrasting between the main dial and subdials, and the caseback is sapphire, displaying a modern workhorse movement.

Laco Navy watch - lume

I understand why Laco doesn’t regularly gain major attention among media and consumers. Many view it as a more budget-focused brand with designs very similar to those of larger, more luxurious counterparts like IWC and Sinn. However, the Laco brand nonetheless has a strong history of its own— it is much older and more well-established than Sinn (established 1961), in fact. Offerings like these new Navy models clearly demonstrate why the brand is still in the metaphorical “game,” offering consumers a good value proposition in price and quality, from a legacy brand that is not going away anytime soon.

Laco Navy Watch - wrist

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we take a look at the Yema Rallye Andretti Limited Edition and compare it to its historical forebearer, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.

6 Sports Watches and Dive Watches Built for Adventure

From the WatchTime archives: If you want to climb mountains, explore caverns, or undergo underwater ordeals, these watches will blithely master such extreme situations. But their attributes can also be useful in everyday life.

1. Light Fantastic: Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Black

Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Black
Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Black

A watch designed for extreme missions must be easy to read in every situation. When nighttime legibility is at stake, everything depends on how long the dial’s luminous material continues to glow. Some watches can be read after eight hours in darkness, but even Super-LumiNova gives up the ghost if the gloom lasts much longer. This is not the case when the dial’s illumination relies on tritium gas. Here, little glass tubes are coated with a luminous substance on their inner surfaces and filled with safely captured tritium, which activates the luminescent material that lines the tubes. The tubes continue to gleam brightly, even after spending years in total darkness. Watches equipped with these luminous tubes are frequently used by the military and by members of the Special Forces. Ball Watch uses this technique in its Engineer Hydrocarbon Black, which has a titanium case coated with black DLC, a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel and a 5.3-mm-thick sapphire crystal. A patented system protects the crown against impacts. Ball Watch uses another patented system to modify the shock absorbers for the balance so the watch is more resistant to vibrations. Ball’s self-winding caliber, which is based on Sellita’s SW 200, is COSC-certified. This 42-mm watch is water resistant to 300 meters. Price: $4,699*.

2. Brawn in the Brine: IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000

IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000
IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000

Saltwater can cause pitting in the surface of a watch’s steel case. The case can become speckled with tiny holes, behind which lurk larger cavities. Steel’s ability to resist corrosion by saltwater is measured by its PRE value: PRE means “pitting resistance equivalent.” A PRE value of 32 is considered to be resistant to corrosion by seawater. Higher PRE values provide greater resistance. Most steel cases are made from 316L steel, which has a PRE value of only 24. These cases should always be rinsed in fresh water after exposure to seawater. Rolex’s cases are made from 904L steel, which has a PRE value of 35, and is quite resistant to corrosion by saltwater. The submarine steel that Sinn uses for its divers’ watches has a PRE value of 38. But titanium is an even better choice for watch cases because this metal is totally impervious to corrosion by saltwater. The IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 has a titanium case. It is water resistant to 2,000 meters and is equipped with self-winding in-house Caliber 80110. Price: $9,500*.

3. Taking the Field: Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M
Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M

Magnetic fields can damage watches. Parts of the movement can become lastingly magnetized, which severely interferes with the accuracy of the rate. The invisible force of magnetism lurks in our everyday surroundings: for example, stereo loudspeakers or smartphones generate magnetic fields. The best protection from magnetism is offered by Omega’s Master Chronometer in-house movements, which have been certified by METAS (Switzerland’s Federal Institute for Metrology). Antimagnetic materials inside these watches ensure that they can cope with magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. This protection is 15 times greater than that provided by a conventional soft-iron inner case. The Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M is powered by Omega Master Chronometer Caliber 8912. It has a 48-mm titanium case. The watch’s ceramic diving bezel is released and locked by a distinctive pusher at 2 o’clock. The crown is protected by a bracket that cannot be opened until the crown is unscrewed. The Ploprof is water-resistant to 1,200 meters. Price: $13,800*.

4. Up to Scratch: Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica

Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica
Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica

Scratch-resistant cases aren’t only useful for extreme athletes, but also for mere mortals in everyday life. The sapphire crystal that’s used to protect most watch dials has a hardness of 2,000 Vickers and is, therefore, very scratch-resistant. Steel cases, on the other hand, are more vulnerable: the hardness of 316L stainless steel, the most commonly used steel alloy, is around 220 Vickers. The case of the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic Ceramica is made of zirconium-oxide ceramic that has a Vickers hardness of 1,200, which is significantly harder than steel, but is also more susceptible to breakage. The 44-mm case houses self-winding in-house Caliber P.9001. The sandwich-style dial with beige Super-LumiNova guarantees good legibility in the dark. Price: $11,200*

5. Pressure Suitable: Rolex Deepsea

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea

A watch’s resistance to pressure really cannot be too high. While professional divers descend to a maximum depth of only 300 meters, additional pressure is generated by a diver’s motion. Furthermore, high resistance to pressure makes a watch more robust. Rolex’s Deepsea is a divers’ watch that uses innovative technology to combine pressure resistance and a compact case. The case is 44 mm in diameter and 18 mm high, yet the watch resists pressure to a depth of 3,900 meters. The case is made of three different materials: a 5.5-mm-thick synthetic sapphire crystal; a 3.28-mm-thick back made of grade-five titanium; and an intermediate inner ring made of Biodur 108 steel, to which the crystal and the back are affixed. When subjected to pressure, these materials undergo less distortion than the steel alloys typically used for watch cases, so Rolex can build a slimmer watch. The Deepsea’s movement, Rolex automatic Caliber 3135, also has the reputation of being extremely robust. Price: $12,350*.

6. Beating the Heat: Sinn EZM 7 S

Sinn EZM 7 S
Sinn EZM 7 S

Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on a watch and cause it to stop running altogether. That’s why Sinn uses special oil and follows narrow tolerances to build the EZM 7 S, which is specifically designed for use by firefighters. Thanks to these features, this watch is guaranteed to remain operational at temperatures ranging from -45° C (-49 degrees F) to +80° C (+176 degrees F). Every timepiece is individually tested at these extreme temperatures. The calibrated rings on the EZM 7 S’s dial are printed according to firefighters’ specifications and are helpful when the wearer is using a protective breathing apparatus. The 43-mm stainless-steel case is fully “tegimented” using Sinn’s special surface treatment process for hardening to create a protective layer against scratches. Sinn’s stay-dry technology inside the case guarantees that the sapphire crystal never fogs up. An inner case made of soft iron protects Caliber ETA 2893 from magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss (80,000 A/m). Price: $2,890*.

* Prices are subject to change.

This article was originally published in 2016.

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Siduna M3440 Professional Uni-Compax Chronograph

After covering Swedish startups Maen and Nezumi, I’ve been patiently watching the rise of other Scandinavian brands. This week we focus our eye on another as we spotlight Siduna and its first production watch: the M3440 Professional Uni-Compax Chronograph.

Lemania vintage watch

The new piece is based upon a 1973 standard-issue military chronograph produced for the Swedish Air Force, or Svenska Flygvapnet (vintage model pictured above, via Sotheby’s). It used a case design by Ervin Piquerez SA that originated in 1968 and is commonly seen in military chronographs by Breguet, Heuer, Sinn, and most notably Lemania, among many others. It was this Lemania version, formally known by its reference number 817, which has long been connected to the Swedish military; through time it has taken on the nickname “Viggen,” after the Saab 37 Viggen fighter jet that its wearers flew. Today Siduna, a historical Swedish watch brand absent from the market for more than 60 years, has revived the public-domain design in the first watch from its modern incarnation.

Siduna M3440 Chronograph - angle

The 817 re-creation is a steel 42-mm chronograph with rectangular lugs, a screw-down waffle crown, and pump pushers. A black rotating bezel outlines the domed sapphire crystal protecting the dial. On the Super-Luminova-accented face is a white outer minute track marked at each five-minute mark, with printed Arabic numerals for each of the hours. At the 3 o’clock position is a 30-mintue counter, with a running seconds subdial parallel to 9 o’clock, with standard sword pointers sweeping over both to show the time.

Siduna M4330 Chronograph - side

Powering the M3440 is the Caliber 13 Phi, with the option of either a standard version or an adjusted flyback chronograph mechanism. The movement is based on an ETA 7750 which has been modified and finished by Siduna. The piece is currently available for pre-order and expected to ship in Fall 2018, with the standard model marked at 1,860 euros and 2,340 euros (pre-VAT) for EU residents, or approximately $2,175 and $2,735 for the American market. Each version is limited to 100 numbered pieces, with the models bearing serial numbers 001, 010, 019, 080, 088, and 099 to be auctioned.

Siduna Caliber

The M3440 is in most of its aspects a faithful reproduction of the vintage military-issue Lemania. With the same size at 42 mm, similar lugs, and a standard rotating bezel, the case of the modern watch is a nearly identical to the historical model’s except for a few distinguishing caseback markers common to the “Viggen.” Similarly, the dials of the 1973 and 2018 watches are also very similar, with the fonts, the sizing of the hour markers, the outer minute ring, and subdials all more or less identical The only differences are in the hour and minute hands, which are slightly thicker in the modern examples, and the placement of the subdials: on the vintage model they are closer to the center of the dial. Outside of this aesthetic change, the M3440 benefits from modern production techniques in movement technology and finishing— to be expected, as Siduna is marketing the new model as top-of-the-line rather than the utilitarian tool watch that Lemania produced.

Siduna M4330 Chronograph - dial

Siduna is clearly looking to enter the market in style, and by choosing to recreate a popular vintage design tied to the brand’s home country of Sweden, it is positioning itself to do so successfully. Add to the interesting style a flyback chronograph mechanism and a two-year warranty, and the brand is presenting a high-quality timepiece few other startups have been able to manage in their initial releases. In the future, Siduna plans to release more watches, with the M3440 as both the pinnacle and starting point of the collection; the company is also currently working on sourcing new movements other than the modified ETA calibers it’s currently using.

Siduna M4330 Chronograph - angle-brown

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Cartier Santos to its historical counterparts, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.

 

Full Force: Reviewing the Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph

The Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph is ready and able to continue the successful heritage of its predecessor, the Tutima Military Chronograph. The new M2 edition exceeds the specifications set for the earlier model by the military and is now available to civilians and professionals alike. Read on for an in-depth review from the WatchTime archives.

Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph - side
The Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph carries on the tradition of the renowned Military Chronograph from the 1980s.

Whoever chooses an M2 Pioneer Chronograph will own a professional time measuring instrument – one without compromises or extraneous design features. This streamlined timepiece emphasizes pure function and reliability, both in its technological features and design.

Excellent legibility, good wearing comfort, superior water resistance, a large central chronograph minutes counter hand, pressure tested for use up to 15,000 meters above normal, and shock resistance to impacts, vibration and acceleration up to 7 Gs in any direction – those were the specifications for the Tutima Military Chronograph in 1984 and were also accepted as appropriate standards for the M2 Pioneer Chronograph.

The Military Chronograph was first created in stainless steel. The new M2 Pioneer Chronograph is made of pure titanium – a material that is often used for professional watches as it is about 50-percent lighter in weight than stainless steel. Titanium is also antimagnetic and resists rust and temperature fluctuations. Modern machining methods can process titanium in many different ways. The M2 Pioneer Chronograph has a matte, bead-blasted finish that gives it a decidedly indestructible appearance, which is an accurate reflection of the true qualities of the 46-mm case.

Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph - angle
The grooved rotating bezel, large pushers, screw-down crown and Kevlar strap offer superior functionality.

With a solid threaded caseback and screw-down crown, the watch is water resistant to 300 meters. The distinctive rotating bezel has eight deep grooves, which make the rotating ring easy to grasp and turn in both directions. The audible minute-increment ratchets are clean and crisp.

Arabic numbers and luminous dots mark the bezel in 5-minute increments. The zero position is highlighted both by a double-dot marker and a larger luminous orb. Despite the excellent lineup of features, the M2 Pioneer Chronograph is not suited for diving – the rotating bezel can be turned in either direction and is not scaled in minutes increments. The M2 Pioneer Chronograph is clearly meant to be a pilots’ watch, not a dive watch.

The rotating bezel encircles a thick sapphire crystal with anti-glare coating on both sides. It underscores the robustness of the case and also provides a clear view of the dial. An additional inner case made of Mu-metal – a nickel-iron alloy – binds magnetic currents and protects the movement from magnetic charge.

The generously sized chronograph pushers are exceptionally easy to use and are adapted from the Military Chronograph in both their size and shape, with especially good traction thanks to their textured neoprene inlays. Starting and stopping the chronograph is always precise and reliable, though the reset action requires a bit more concentration and effort.

Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph - back
Caliber T 521 sits securely beneath a protective inner case and solid titanium caseback.

Tutima Caliber T 521 is notable for a special stopwatch function. Like the Military Chronograph, the stopwatch minutes are displayed from the center of the dial. This has two advantages: the display extends over the entire radius of the dial and is read intuitively, like a regular 60-minute display (instead of 30 minutes on a small subdial).

But there was one problem. Lemania Caliber 5100, which shows the elapsed minutes from the center, was used in the Military Chronograph. And while its production began in the early 1970s, it was halted at the end of 2002. This practically designed movement was used by Omega, Heuer, Fortis, and Sinn as well as by Tutima.

For the M2 Pioneer Chronograph, Tutima chose the reliable ETA Valjoux 7750 caliber and modified its offset elapsed minutes indication. This configuration is a patented in-house design, executed meticulously by Tutima in its new Glashütte factory. The result: both hands (elapsed seconds and minutes) turn from the center of the dial. But because they have almost the same shape and length, they are distinguishable at first glance only when they move. The hand for the elapsed seconds advances in small increments, following the 4-Hz rhythm of the base movement, while the elapsed minutes hand stands still.

But actually, that’s not the case. Closer inspection shows that the elapsed minutes hand is also in continuous motion, just like a normal minutes hand, which is another clear difference from the original movement. The ETA Valjoux 7750 has a minutes counter hand on a subdial that advances one position as the elapsed seconds hand passes the zero point. In addition to the pointer mechanism, which was adapted from an offset to a central elapsed minutes display, Tutima has also intervened in the chronograph mechanism. The display of the chronograph hours at 6 o’clock, which also runs continuously, has remained the same.

Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph - front
The time and the elapsed time displays are easy to see during daylight hours.

Close examination also shows that the two center hands differ in their pivot points. The hand for the elapsed minutes sports two red airplane wings, while a portion of the elapsed seconds hand is simply marked in red. When the two hands cross each other, the red sections come together to form the shape of a complete airplane. Naturally this image also appears when the chronograph is in its zero starting position.

Tutima Caliber T 521 shows exceptional rate results. It runs very consistently – both in the various individual positions and in different situations. Its best performance is on the wrist, just as you would want and expect. There is hardly any deviation in the average rate when the chronograph is engaged. Another rather rare feature is the intensive illumination of the M2 Pioneer Chronograph, which was also adapted from the Military Chronograph. Only the permanent seconds at 9 o’clock and the 24-hour display at 12 o’clock retreat to the background. Everything else shines brightly in the deep green of Super-LumiNova. This makes it possible and easy to operate the chronograph functions and rotating bezel settings in the dark. Apart from the somewhat exaggerated illumination of the chronograph hours display, everything seems quite legible.

The M2 Pioneer Chronograph comes with a titanium link bracelet with a safety folding clasp. The set also includes a Kevlar strap, which is how our test piece was equipped, with a single-sided, titanium folding clasp. Kevlar is an extremely lightweight and durable fabric that is used for protective clothing for motorcycle riding, sailing and even space travel. The strap attaches to the case along the width of the tonneau-shaped center section of the dial of the M2 Pioneer Chronograph. It angles sharply downward thanks to integrated reinforcements. And although this provides a great ergonomic fit, the size of the M2 Pioneer makes it suitable only for men with larger wrists. But for these, with all its features, it is especially well designed.

Tutima M2 Pioneer Chronograph - lume
All functions and features are easy to use, even in the dark.

SPECS:
Manufacturer: Tutima Glashütte, Altenberger Strasse 6, 01768 Glashütte/Sa., Germany
Reference number: 6451-2
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph (60-second and 60-minute central counter, 12- hour counter) 24-hour indicator, bidirectional rotating bezel, anti- magnetic protection with Mu-metal cage, screw-down crown
Movement: Tutima T 521, based on ETA/ Valjoux 7750, automatic, 28,800 vph, 44-hour power reserve, Glucydur balance, Nivarox hairspring, two-part fine adjustment, Incabloc shock absorption, 25 jewels, diameter = 30.0 mm, height = 7.90 mm
Case: Pure titanium, bead-blasted, sapphire crystals, double-sided antiglare coating (top), water resistant to 300 meters
Strap and clasp: Kevlar with titanium single-sided folding clasp
Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours, Fully wound/after 24 hours):
Dial up: -0.3/ +1.7
Dial down: +1.0 / +3.6
Crown up: +3.5 / +4.3
Crown down: +4.3 / +6.0
Crown left: +4.3 / +4.8
Greatest deviation: 4.6 / 4.3
Average deviation: +2.6 / +4.1
Average amplitude:
Flat positions: 321° / 292°
Hanging positions: 290° / 262°
Dimensions: Diameter = 46.01 mm, height = 16.07 mm, weight = 128.0 grams
Variations: With titanium bracelet ($6,700)
Price: $6,100

Sinn 556 Weiss Limited Edition

The German sports watch brand Sinn, which sells its watches direct-to-consumer on the Web, has long prided itself on its close relationship with its customers. Its newest limited edition, the Sinn 556 Weiss — a watch for which the buyer can choose his or her own serial number — is a product of that connection. Scroll down to read more on this week’s Watch to Watch.

Despite being known for its tough, professional-grade tool watches specially engineered for divers, aviators, military operators and even firefighters, Sinn also makes more classically elegant timepieces such as the Sinn 556 I, one of the brand’s best sellers. The Sinn 556 Weiss is based on this popular model, but adds a new dial design with a matte white (weiss in German) background and a black Super-LumiNova coating (which appears as black in daylight but glows green in darkness) on the hour and minute markers and hands. Sinn says that a white-dial version of the 556 has been among the most requested models by the brand’s fan base.

Sinn 556 Weiss - Front CU
Sinn 556 Weiss - Front - side

The case of the Sinn 556 Weiss Limited Edition is made of surgical-grade 316L stainless steel and sports a bead-blasted matte finish that masks most small abrasions and scratches that the case might acquire over its lifetime. Its dimensions — 38.5 mm in diameter, just 10 mm thick — are decidedly modest, adding to the watch’s understated, dressy look. Also contributing to this look is the white central seconds hand, which blends inconspicuously into the dial but for the red tip that reminds you the watch is functioning, and the small date window (with a black numeral on a white field) at 3 o’clock.

Sinn 556 Weiss - Front-angled
Sinn 556 Weiss - Front-reclining

The watch has a dual-seal, locking crown (which aids in its 200-meter water resistance) and a sapphire crystal with nonreflective treatment on both surfaces; there is also a pane of sapphire in the caseback, showing off the automatic movement (based on a “Top Grade” ETA 2824), including the big, engraved rotor that is in one sense the timepiece’s most precious feature. As mentioned above, the owner of each watch (of the only 150 being produced) gets to choose his own exact serial number (between 1 and 150, first come, first served), which is engraved on the oscillating weight.

Sinn 556 Weiss - CaseBack

The Sinn 556 Weiss Limited Edition comes on a black calfskin leather strap with white stitching and a steel tang buckle. A bracelet option can be added at an additional charge to the watch’s base price of $1,070. The watch is available exclusively at the website of its U.S. distributor, www.watchbuys.com. Below is a wrist shot of the 556 Weiss taken at the brand’s recent New York Road Show.

Sinn 556 Weiss - wrist

Dive Watch Wednesday: The Challenge of Proving Your Dive Watch is “Extreme”

Caribbean 1000 dialIn 1953, the first dive watches featuring a rotating bezel appeared. They started with a depth rating of about 100 meters. It took another 10 years for makers of serially produced dive watches to reach the symbolic 1,000-meters mark. And, as we at Diveintowatches.com have discovered, achieving this milestone might have been considerably less difficult than proving it.

Around 1963, a new dive watch from Sandoz with a cushion case (sometimes referred to as the “baby Panerai” by collectors) debuted, along with the Caribbean watch from Jenny, most likely the first 700-meter-water-resistant watch, which featured a monobloc case. Both of these types would become available later, under many different brands, in the years to come, and these therefore can also be considered two very early examples of private-label production for this type of watch. More importantly, during the 1964 Basel watch fair, both watch models were already described by the press as a new generation of dive watches, capable of withstanding up to 100 atmospheres (1,000 meters of water resistance). This one-year gap in communicating the actual depth ratings could very well be an indicator that building such watches might have been difficult, but finding the right testing equipment to prove it was even more difficult.

Caribbean 1000 dial
Dial closeup of the Jenny Caribbean 1000

This was a problem that actually did not change much over the next 50 years: the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea (introduced in 2008), for example, offers a water resistance of 3,900 meters and the pressure-testing equipment required the expertise of the deep-sea diving technology experts at Comex. On the other hand, Hublot, which launched the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 in 2011, has a dedicated Roxer tank to test water-resistance at its manufacture in Nyon, Switzerland. Charmex chose a different solution for its CX Swiss Military “20,000 Feet” dive watch introduced in 2009. The company cooperated with the Oceanographic Institute of Southampton to test its record-breaking chronograph up to 7,500 meters. Meanwhile, the German brand Sinn decided to invest in its own equipment capable of generating a pressure equivalent to 12,000 meters.

Hublot Lab - Oceanographic
Hublot’s test lab for the Oceanographic 4000

Probably the most practical approach to test a watch’s water-resistance was chosen by Rolex, beginning in 1953, for its legendary Rolex “Deepsea Special.” That watch’s prototype reached a depth of 3,150 meters that year and, in 1960, the watch was successfully submerged to a depth of nearly 11,000 meters during Piccard’s and Walsh’s famous “Deepsea Challenge” dive. In other words: Rolex used the whole ocean was used as its testing environment.

Rolex Deepsea Special - Beyer Museum
The Rolex Deepsea Special