Few things are quite as much fun as trying on a new Sinn. Before you even get in on your wrist, the sight of it is something special. You can tell that it’s overbuilt, beautifully machined and lacking in fussy nonsense. Sinn watches are unlike other watches out there, as is the brand. They do things their own way, focusing on technology and engineering that few brands could even dream of while managing to pull off clean, tasteful aesthetics and prices that are within reach. They’re the enthusiasts’ tool watch, with models so diverse it’s easy to own, or desire several. This is why, as you might have noticed, the team here at w&w are slightly obsessed with them, many of us owning a few.
At Basel World 2014 Sinn released a watch that really caught my attention: the EZM 13. Part of their “Einsatzzeitmesser” or Mission Timer series, the EZM 13 took their EZM 3, a watch I am particularly fond of, and added in a chronograph. The resulting watch is a tool watch dream, with 500m WR, a bunch of tech I’ll explain below, and Sinn’s modified Valjoux 7750 movement, called the SZ02. It’s this last bit that really drives the watch over the edge for me, as it adds a feature that most chronographs are missing; a 60-minute counter. Coming in at $2,770 on rubber, the Sinn EZM 13 isn’t cheap, but as I think you’ll find out, is very worth the money. Lots to get through, so let’s get to it.
Sinn EZM 13 Review
Case: Bead Blasted Steel
Movement: Sinn SZ02/Modified Valjoux 7750
Dial: Matte Black
Lens: Sapphire w/ double AR
Water Res.: 500M
Dimensions: 41.5 x 47 mm
Thickness: 15 mm
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 6 x 5mm
Warranty: 3 Year
The case of the EZM13 is aggressive and chunky in the ways a tool watch should be, while packing some serious tech, making is distinctively Sinn. Coming in at 40 (41.5 at the bezel) x 47 x 15mm, it’s thick but compact, making it feel very solid. The case design, in terms of the lines and geometry, is one that Sinn uses on various watches. While the construction on this one is different due to the 500m WR, chronograph and tech inside, the overall look brings to mind the EZM 3, 103 and 104 models, which in turn draw from watches dating to the mid-20th century. The result is a dive watch that looks more like a pilot, or at least more tactical. This is part of what I really like about the EZM 13 and 3 aesthetically, as they don’t easily fall into a visual category.
This case design is all about the lugs; they are thick and angular with beveled edges and slab sides giving the watch very strong lines. Their thickness also gives the watch broad shoulders, perhaps tricking the eye into thinking that the strap is 22mm, when it is in fact 20. The resulting proportions are spot on, making the EZM 13 look appropriately sturdy. The rest of the central case is straightforward with slab sides and a bead blasted finish, which while more matte than a brushed finish still has a nice bit of shine to it.
One of the more distinctive features of the EZM 13 and 3 are the left mounted, so called “destro” controls. The idea here is that the crown and pushers won’t interfere with a person’s hand or potentially other equipment (unofficially, this makes the watch look more normal on your right-wrist, should you wear it as such). This is a philosophy Sinn actually imparts on all of their divers, many with crowns at 4 or 10, but never at 3. The design of the crown and pushers are also classic Sinn. The crown measures 6 x 5mm, screws in and features coining and a rounded end with a Sinn “S” logo. The crown is flanked by crown guards that sweep out from the case side providing some protection, while also allowing for easy access.
The pushers are then small cylinders with shrouds as they meet the case. It’s worth noting that despite the 500m WR, the pushers don’t screw down with pesky cuffs. Rather via Sinn’s D3-System in which the pushers and crown are mounted via an armature rather than tubes, creating a seal. More over, the pushers are useable submerged, which is generally a rule one does not break. This is the kind of “extra-mile” detail that makes these watches so desirable.
On top of the case is a 60-minute uni-directional bezel. The bezel has a relatively thin profile, with deep grooves punctuated by gaps that coordinate with the minute. It’s easy to grasp and turn. The feel of the mechanism is ok, but not as sharp as I had expected. It sort of “pops” into place, and has a bit of back play. As with everything else on the case, Sinn approaches the bezel a bit differently, using their “captive bezel system”. Typically, bezels snap into place, but this creates the potential for them to pop off if snagged. They aren’t very clear what their method is other than to say it is “therefore fitted with a safety system which overcomes this design weakness”, but there are clearly screws on the side of the bezel, which I imagine have something to do with it.
Think that’s all? Nope, we are just getting to the fun stuff. All of Sinn’s dive watches (except the UX, which we discussed in our Beasts of the Deep article) feature their Ar-Dehumidifying technology. This is a 3-part system, the likes of which no other brand has. First, is the use of a copper-sulphate capsule. This absorbs any moisture that might get into the case, and “binds it permanently”, which sounds a bit like magic, but I’ll accept it. The copper-sulphate capsule is mounted in the top right lug, and is visible from the outside via a small sapphire lens. What you see is a small very light blue, nearly white, dot. As the capsule pulls out more moisture, it will turn a darker shade of blue and eventually need to be replaced.
The next are EDR, or “extremely diffusion-reducing” seals. Though they don’t specify what the material is, their EDR seals permit 25% the amount of atmospheric moisture through that standard seals do. Lastly, the watch is filled with an inert gas, Argon. This creates a no to low humidity atmosphere inside the watch, any humidity coming in from the outside, which is thusly removed by the copper-sulphate capsules. What does it all mean? Well, there are two big benefits. The immediately practical purpose is to decrease the aging of oils inside the watch movement that are effected by moisture. This simply leads to a healthier watch. The second is to prevent fogging of the crystal that occurs in sudden drops of temperature, which seems very useful if that is something you encounter. Good luck finding something comparable in luxury dive watches many times the price of the EZM 13.
Flipping the watch over, you have a solid steel case back, with various details about the watch. One of which is that it features 80,0000 A/m of magnetic resistance, which is achieved through a soft-iron movement holder. This has benefits above and below sea level, leading to a watch that will stay accurate longer. Lastly, it’s not like Sinn to just make claims, so everything has been officially certified from the water resistance to shock resistance to the magnetic field protection.
Once you manage to wrap your head around everything the case has going on, you can make your way to the dial. The EZM 13 features Sinn’s Mission Timer dial design, which you’ll find variations of on all of their EZM marked watches, starting with the now highly sought after cult classic, the EZM 1. The version on the EZM 13 takes the EZM 3’s dial and adds in chronograph functionality. It’s a fairly compact dial with a lot going on, but Sinn did some clever things to balance out the information.
The dial surface is matte black, but it almost comes across as very dark grey (especially when compared to the gloss black of the 556i). The primary index consists of lumed rectangles per hour, longer at 3 and 9, and doubled while tapering at 12. Between each marker is a long thin white line per minute/chrono-second. A detail I particularly like about this design is the crisp edge that is made by the white lines and lumed rectangles lining up, creating the appearance of a black circle in the center of the dial. Stepping in, there is also an index of small white numerals per hour, save 5 – 7 which are omitted for the chronograph minutes counter. This index is perhaps the only one that feels superfluous and like it might overcrowd the dial a bit. As we’ve seen on the new EZM 3f (and the EZM 1, for that matter), without the numbers, the dial opens up a bit. That said, it does add a bit of a classic military feel.
Because the EZM 13 uses a modified Valjoux 7750 in reverse position, you have the active seconds at 3 instead of 9. They did something clever here, and rather than making the sub-dial white, they went with dark grey. In good lighting, it’s clear though faint, not distracting from more useful elements. In the dark or dim light, it’s hardly visible at all. Similarly, you have dark red text for the “Ar” symbol at 9, “Einsatzzeitmesser” below the Sinn logo at 12 and in use on the date wheel. The red stands out in some light, but recedes in others. I particularly like the use of red on the date as it’s a unique feature to some EZM watches, and I always appreciate a customized date.
The star of the show is the big 60-minute counter at 6. Oversized and in white, it’s the visual centerpiece of the dial. While it might be inactive unless the chronograph is running, it gives the dial a technical look that is very appealing. By being in white, it also stands out more than the red or gray elements, but not being lumed, fades away in the dark.
The bezel insert is black metal with negative space for numerals and minute markings. At the 0/60 is a lume filled triangle. The index is full, with numerals at intervals of 5 and lines for all other minutes. Oddly, since this is labeled a dive watch, there is no special consideration for the first 15 minutes. It’s a very straightforward design that gets the job done while not adding too much distraction.
The handset on the EZM 13 traces its roots back to the EZM 1, if not earlier having a similarity to military designs from the 70’s. The hour, minute, sub-seconds and chrono-minutes are all straight swords with pointed tips. The minute hands tip is elongated to a thin point. The chrono-seconds hand is a tapering stick in matte black with a white tip. All of the time functions are lumed, while the chronographs are not. The lume is very strong on the dial, hands and bezel. It charges quickly and glows brightly, even having a noticeable charge from a quick moment in light. The lume has a pale green color when on the dial, almost the same as lightly yellowed tritium, though it glows a minty green.
With all the other features this watch has, it’s easy to forget that inside is something unique; the Sinn SZ02 automatic chronograph. The SZ02 is a modified top-grade ETA Valjoux 7750 with one very distinct and important change: the 30-minute counter has been turned into a 60-minute counter. The fact that mechanical chronographs aren’t by default made with 60-minute counters is beyond me. It’s a much more useful length of time to measure, and much easier to read. On a classic chrono, 35 minutes is 5 minutes and half past an hour on another sub-dial… Why bother? It’s not a new concept either, with the all-too-rare central minute counter chronographs dating back to the 1940’s with the Longines 13ZN, and more famously to the 70’s – late 90’s with the Lemania 5100 (which Sinn has replicated in another modified 7750 movement called the SZ01). These days though, they are few and far between, with the SZ02 being one of a handful and the EZM13 being one of the most affordable.
On the EZM 13, Sinn also removed the 12-hr counter one would have found at 12. This puts the emphasis on the minutes (duh) making the 60-minute totalizer all the more useful. While having the hours would have added even more functionality, on this dial I think it would have been overkill. It also makes this watch a spiritual successor to the EZM 1, which used the Lemania 5100, but without the hour counter, active seconds or 24-hr hand, for a super clean design with no distractions.
Straps and Wearability
The EZM 13 comes with either a 20mm silicone rubber strap or a steel h-link bracelet. I tested the watch on the former, and was pleased by the quality. It’s a soft, matte silicone that is very comfortable against the skin. The design is simple with a straight cut, long channels along the top edges and a molded in Sinn logo on one side. The black of the silicone isn’t quite pitch, making it match well with the dial surface. The included matte buckle has a nice, angular design, picking up some cues from the lugs, and one detail I really like. It curls down in such a way as to perfectly fit within the channels along the strap’s top surface. The only downside of the strap is that it’s a lint magnet.
On the wrist, the EZM 13 wears exceptionally well. It’s an ideal size for a rugged tool watch, coming in neither too big or too small. It’s plenty large enough to have presence and be legible, but small enough to be comfortable and look well proportioned to the wrist. On my 7″ wrist, I found the lug-to-lug length of 47mm to be particularly well sized, especially since the lugs are broad. So, while the watch isn’t long, the lugs still have a lot of visual mass.
It’s such a cool looking watch. Though it mixes elements from various time periods, it’s thoroughly modern looking, with a mean tactical edge. There is nothing that feels stylized about the design, rather everything is built for a purpose. In the end, it’s very clean and a bit severe, but undeniably attractive. The instrument-like design makes it almost conservative, so while it’s a sport/tool watch through and through, it wouldn’t look odd at work, though I’d probably go for the bracelet option. For more casual wear, it just has that kind of effortlessly rugged look that I personally find so appealing. Wear it with jeans, boots, t-shirts, leather jackets, etc… wear it to the beach, the bar, the garage; whatever it is you do. It’s a watch that could actually look better with a few scratches and dings on it.
There’s a lot to like about (and to talk about) the Sinn EZM 13. It’s a great modern tool watch with some very serious technical credibility, which is Sinn’s strong suit. Before even getting to the Ar-Dehumidifying tech or the D3-System that allows the chrono-pushers to be used under water… or the 500m WR or the 80,000 A/m magnetic field resistance… or the gorgeous, mission driven dial and super bright lume… you have the fact that this uses their SZ02 in-house modified Valjoux 7750 chronograph, which gives it a 60-minute counter. Not only is that more practical, it’s Sinn going above and beyond to make a better, more functional watch.
As a chronograph enthusiast, a little thing like that is already enough to make the watch a winner for me. Not wanting every one of my chronographs to be the same, or to use off the shelf movements, an exclusive modification is very attractive. Not to rant, but how many watches 2, 3…5 times the price of the EZM 13 go so far? Few if any. Then throw in all that other great stuff? There is nothing comparable. They put a lot of luxury brands to shame.
With that said, the EZM 13 isn’t cheap, it’s just a great value. At $2,770 ($2,960 on a bracelet) it’s no drop in the bucket, but for everything you are getting it actually seems modest. Even within Sinn’s own watches, they kind of snuck this one in under $3k, beating out many of their other chronographs and coming in nearly $2,000 less than their other SZ02 powered chrono, the mighty U1000. Of course, there’s a push and pull with everything, and the EZM 13 is lacking one of Sinn’s most notable techs: Tegimented steel. The hardened Tegimented steel is 1200 vickers making it nearly impervious to scratches; an obviously great feature. That said, while I would have loved for that to be a part of it, I appreciate that they kept the price down a bit by leaving it out, making it somewhat more approachable.
To pick one up in the US, head to: WatchBuys