Sinn's Der Einsatz-ZeitMesser 1 - EZM1*I do not claim to be author of this article. Portions of text are from April 1998 issue of the German Chronos and translated by Roman Hartmann & George Chow. Additional info by the great and late Chuck Maddox (Rest in peace d) - Chuck's blog here And information from DeckSurgeon at the Singapore Horology Club site with additional info from the military watch enthusiasts site www.broadarrow.netHistory of the Lemania 5100
or The "Mission Timer 1" & The Lemania 5100
The chronograph world isn’t what it used to be. Due to escalating manufacturing cost, the Swiss industry has gravitated toward fewer popular calibres. An example of one such basic and functional calibre is the Lemania 5100. Manufactured since 1978, it was once rescued from an untimely demise by the Swatch group and then put to death again by a policy change in the same hands of the rescuer.
In the 1997, Nouvelle Lemania was planning to cease production of the 5100, a particularly rugged but accurate calibre used mostly in military and space applications.
There were two reasons for Lemania’s decision:
(1) Foremost was that the simplistic design of the 5100 no longer fitted the manufacturer’s product line and philosophy.
(2) The tools for the movement, being 25+ years old, were outdated and in need of restoration. However, the needed investment couldn’t be justified by the calibre’s limited sales to its remaining main customers: Fortis, Sinn, and Tutima. (Paul Picot and Alain Silberstein also use the calibre but only in very limited fashion unlike the other three.) At the very least, Lemania would not be able to maintain the calibre’s price. One intermediate wheel makes a lot of difference
However, Fortis, Sinn, and Tutima insisted on the continuation of production because the 5100 is the only calibre that met their military requirements.
The 5100, due to its construction, is the only chronograph movement that can withstand large shocks without its chronograph seconds hand stopping. This is because its chronograph mechanism is driven directly unlike most other chronographs which use an intermediate wheel. The calibre easily withstands acceleration in excess of 7G without appreciable loss of accuracy
. Its ruggedness is legendary; the calibre easily absorbs shocks and blows. The calibre also maintains its accuracy over long periods without servicing. Service intervals from four to seven years have shown to be sufficient. Everything has a weakness
On the other hand, the 5100’s weakness, at least from a watchmaker’s perspective, is its simple, even anachronistic construction. Like a cheap old mechanical wristwatch or a mechanical alarm clock, it uses a pillar construction. That is, the cock and bridges are attached to the main plate by thin pillars. In a more conventional design, the cock and bridges are terrace-like and mount directly onto the main plate.
Pillar construction reduces manufacturing cost since parts can be stamped as opposed to being milled. But that’s not all. The designers even dared to use some nylon parts in the movement. The choice of nylon not only lowered production costs but was also deemed, at the time, to be progressive. After all, this was during the time of the Tissot Research 2001, a watch with a movement made entirely of nylon and fiberglass. The day and date wheels of the 5100 and their cams are also nylon. On the periphery of the movement are two gray nylon half-moons that support the rotor and absorb shocks from the rotor in case of hard blows. This nylon “ring” around the movement hides much of the pillar construction from the casual viewer.
Fortunately, Lemania did not cease production of the 5100 (in 1997). However, the wholesale price of the movement nearly doubled from 230 SFR to about 400 SFR to reflect the cost of the new machines and tooling's.
A brief glance over the 30 years history of the automatic chronograph shows that the golden age of the chronograph when a large number and variety of calibres flourished is largely over now.......well maybe not, there has been a bit of a renaissance lately but we shall see.20 years +
Indeed, only a few integrated (as opposed to modular) automatic chronographs remain on the market. Nearly all of these are at least 20 years old.
It started with Zenith’s El Primero in 1969. The El Primero’s strongest rival was the calibre 11/12 from Breitling, Heuer, Hamilton and Buren that was released the same year. However, the El Primero is today, 20 years after the production of the calibre 11/12 ended, still in production. In 1972, Lemania released the calibre 1340 that lives on today, albeit after a long hiatus, as the 1350. Today’s ubiquitous ETA-Valjoux 7750 was released in 1973. Five years later, the 5100, the simplified successor to the 1340/1341 was released.Antiquated but Reliable
The Lemania 5100 demonstrates other unusual constructions. The navette-type chronograph mechanism is fitted not as usually between the base plate and the automatic winding system but between the dial and the base plate instead. The rotor winds in one direction only over the reduction gear and runs in a hard iron bearing instead of jewels.
The ratchet wheel under the rotor transfers the rotation of the rotor to a reduced wheel. The yoke spring on the rotor doubles as a click. The above clearly shows that the Lemania 5100’s antiquated construction, while simple, is nonetheless reliable and functional. The clutch wheel is also made out of nylon, another tribute to rational production.
The large mainspring barrel continues the rugged design philosophy of the movement. The balance is also quite large for a high beat movement running at 28’800A/h. The calibre uses the reliable and space-saving Triovis regulator. Kif-Flector shock absorber was chosen instead of the more usual Incabloc shock absorber seen in ETA calibre. At 8.2mm, the 5100 is 0.3mm taller than the ETA-Valjoux 7750. This makes the 5100 the tallest of today’s chronograph calibre.Effective, Precise, and Reliable… In short: Unbeatable
Because the Lemania 5100 is built for tool watches with an instrument appearance, the height of the calibre is not very important. Sinn was the first to see the potential of this underdog. Sinn released the Sinn 142 in 1980 (roughly at the same time as Omega’s release of their second edition of the Speedmaster Mark IV). The Sinn 142 is a large tool-watch with a highly functional dial.
Orfina’s Porsche Design chronograph in the early 1980s was another functional (and minimalist design) that used the Lemania 5100. Tutima’s military chronograph was released in 1985 and was chosen shortly after as the official watch for German air-force pilots. In 1994, Fortis replaced their unpopular Stratoliner model with the very well-made Official Cosmonaut chronograph. The calibre remained the Lemania 5100. Even Alain Silberstein used the 5100, changing the color
of some of the nylon parts in his provocative “Krono Bauhaus”.
Sinn released their EZM1 (Einsatz-Zeitmesser 1), a novel chronograph design using the 5100 that moves the crowns and pushers to the left side of the case (in addition to removing all subdials and the day/date functions).Lemania in the 1990s
In the late 1990's there seemed to be more firms who had previously produced automatic chronographs exclusively or primarily with the Lemania 5100 introduced new models with the Valjoux 7750 either in parallel with their 5100 offerings or to replace them. Bell & Ross introduced the Space 3 in two varieties of 7750, Revue Thommen replaced their Airspeed (5100 Based) with a Airspeed II (7750) line, and so on. So while Tutima, Sinn and others soldiered on the long-term viability availability of the Lemania 5100 seemed to be on shaky ground at best. Most of us who watch the currents of the Swiss watch industry while
conceeding that some of this was probably attributible to firms wishing to keep their costs down and hence maintaining profits, the more open-minded of us would mention that perhaps the close shave the 5100 had with the executioner's block may have scared off firms who wished to produce 5100's, or perhaps a steady stream of supply wasn't as easy to obtain as the ETA/Valjoux 7750.
As early as early 2001, rumors of the demise of the Lemania 5100 started to surface around the web. Most of the time these rumors were second or third hand with little or no substanciation of any sort. Since the late 1990's the Swiss watch industry had been a story of massive consolidation. Indeed most of the major players in the watch industry (aside from steadfast independents like Rolex and Breitling) had been either purchased (both quietly and as the result of a very
public bidding process) by the major consortium's. The largest of these consortiums being Swatch Group, Louis Vitton Moet Hennesy & Richmont. While a large number of Independent watch firms still exist, notably 5100 users Fortis, Sinn, Tutima, and Bell&Ross, Lemania itself was acquired by Swatch Group since the original 1998 publication of this Chronos article.
The consensus was that CEO Swatch Group had decreed that Lemania movements would only be available to firms under the Swatch Group umbrella (and that since no Swatch Group Firm was currently producing a 5100 based watch) it was effectively discontinued because of this edict. The only exception was the firm of either Sinn or Tutima, which had a contract to supply watches to the German military, was either able to continue to obtain movements for that purpose for the length of that contract or had sufficent stock on hand to continue to offer Lemania 5100 based models, after which it was likely, if nothing changed, that the 5100 would be either discontinued or at the very least put on hiatus until such time that Swatch Group felt like resuming production.
The lemania 5100 chronograph caliber was discontinued in late 2003 / early 2004.*Historical note: Lemania was part of Omega from 1932 till 1985 (year at which it was sold to Heuer who resold the Lemania company to Investcorp in 1989) and which was sold by Investcorp to Breguet (Swatch Group) in 1999.
The End of the beginning, or the beginning of the end........
However in late 2004, early 2005 the very last Sinn EZM1 was sold from the Sinn factory in Frankfurt. This was mainly due to the fact that the supply of the trusted Lemania 5100 movement was no longer available. Military watch buffs clamored the dealers for this watch and the EZM1 was laid to rest with massive cult status from the USA to Japan with almost mythical status amongst collectors. (if you had a ZUZ or ZTZ version and not a collector, then you were likely a real special forces agent perhaps *grin* ??!!)
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
- Sir Winston Churchill (Nov 1942)
In 2007 the Sinn factory in Frankfurt procured a batch of Lemania 5100 movements and a decision was made to produce the one of the most celebrated, collected and highly desired Sinn watches ever produced - the Sinn EZM 1 Chronograph in titanium, as a limited series of 250 watches. Once the public announcement was made, the orders and demand of this watch was phenomenal worldwide.
The Sinn factory would make the decision on the allocation of pieces to the respective authorized distributors in respective countries. Singapore was allocated 10 examples. Needless to say, the allocation vanished faster than you could say "Einsatz-ZeitMesser"
In North America when the sale announcement was made, the number of people that wanted a reservation thru the web (on a certain watch website) was so overwhelming that it jammed the server and was sold out in a mere matter of minutes! The reservations for the EZM1 limited elsewhere were also fully booked up in a blink of an eye.
May I humbly present to you the flagship and legend of the EZM Series: SINN EZM 1 - Limited Edition 250