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A Tale of Two Timepieces

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  • A Tale of Two Timepieces

    It was the most precise of movements, it was the most indifferent of movements, it was the timepiece of form, it was the timepiece of function, it was the keeper of time, it was the measurer of time, it was the case of Light, it was the case of Darkness, it was the pinnacle of quartz, it was the utility of chronographs, we had Zaratsu before us, we had TEGIMENTation before us, we were all going direct to Seiko, we were all going direct the other way (through Sinn).

    To steal shamelessly from the great Dickens classic, I’m writing to share my impressions and experience of two timepieces that have been the mainstay of my recent daily timekeeping. These two timepieces—a Japanese Grand Seiko dress quartz and a German Sinn Duochronograph self-winding mechanical—represent for me a wondrous Yin-Yang relationship in their duality of philosophies and approaches to modern timekeeping. But like many dualities, these timepieces are also wonderfully complementary and intertwined, at least to my eyes and mind.

    One embodies the engineering prowess of its Germanic roots with a straightforwardness of design that is resolutely robust and Hard-as-Nails; the other exudes the exacting precision of the Japanese culture, but reflecting a finely hewn design aesthetic and is hopelessly delicate, as a cheerful cherry blossom swaying in a Tokyo Spring breeze.

    The Yang is the Sinn 757, a contemporary interpretation of the flieger chronograph powered by the ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic movement. The Sinn has a generous 43mm diameter case, standing 15.2mm tall (and heavy) off the wrist, and framed in a bidirectional rotating bezel that clicks smoothly from each position to its neighbour.

    The Yin is the Grand Seiko (GS) SBGX065, a classically understated Seiko-styled dress watch with their own 9F62 high-accuracy quartz movement. The GS has a dainty 37mm diameter case and slips effortlessly under the shirt cuff at only 10mm in thickness. Understandably, there is no functional bezel to fiddle with, just a face surrounded in a highly-polished mirrored bezel frame.

    The Sinn for its Yang qualities of masculine hardness, solidity, focus and an association with the Sky and Sun is unashamedly an aviation tool watch. The dial mimics, if it's not a faithful facsimile of, an airplane cockpit dial and would look perfectly at home mounted in a dashboard. The pure white minute and hour markings encircle the matt black face with the 3, 6 and 12 o'clock hour marks in large white Arabic numerals. As a duochronograph, the other distinctive feature of its time display are the 30-minute (at 12 o’clock) and 12-hour (at 6 o’clock) counter sub-dials, each painted on with their own thin white markers.

    It's a high contrast white-on-black scheme that is imminently readable with the Roman sword hands helping to report the time at a glance. This is a timepiece designed with information clarity and legibility in mind: no constant running seconds-hand to distract the eye, and even the date indicator is discreetly displayed in white on a black background that recedes into the face; it's definitely there to be read at the 4 o'clock tick, but only if you really want and need to see it (much like my Sinn EZM3’s date display).

    It’s the only watch I possess that is a two-hand timekeeper, with the seconds timing hand only sweeping around when the chronograph is activated—otherwise the face is dead-still at a glance. At first I found this lack of constant movement quite disconcerting, so accustomed am I to seeing either the sweep or tick of the ubiquitous seconds-hand in motion. “Has my watch stopped?!” I’d ask myself in alarm, only to reassure myself that no, it’s just telling the time…slowly. But the stillness of the time display is one of the 757’s superpowers; it’s quite meditative staring at the stillness of time in a Zen-state trance, knowing and trusting that time is in passage.

    The other superpowers of this timepiece are the standard weapons in Sinn’s technological arsenal: embedded dehumidifying copper sulphate capsule, anti-magnetic resistance to 80,000 A/m, extreme temperature tolerance from -45C to +80C and a captive bezel that won’t accidentally detach from the case. But these powers are technical overkill to an office-bound desk pilot like me. What I need is Iron Man-like armour to protect my watch from the perils of scuffing and scratching in everyday life. For that, Sinn bestowed upon the 757 its TEGIMENT technology to shroud the steel in a protective layer—its tegimentum. This rugged timepiece can take some knocks without a scratch. Literally.

    In contrast to the Yang of the Sinn, the Grand Seiko’s Yin qualities embody its feminine delicateness and softness, and association with Earth as a land-dweller not really meant for ocean depths or high-altitude adventure. The GS’s face is an inky sunburst blue that changes shade depending on light’s angle of incidence to the dial. It can have the plainest of dials at its most monochromatic in dim lighting, to then instantly transform into a radiant, lustrous blue with infinite gradients of tints and hues when exposed to the light. Marvellous.

    But even in the dimmest of lighting there's always a glimmer from the face to catch the wearer’s attention. The raised and faceted minute markers, the thick, angular dimensionality of the hour and minute hands and the sheen of the ticking seconds hand bring this face to life in the presence of light. So shiny. So pretty.

    This is where the fine Zaratsu polished finishing of the Grand Seiko has its most profound impact, because behind the inner-antireflective coating of the sapphire crystal, those surfaces will never lose their finely brushed finish and mirrored shine—even after a lifetime of scratches have scoured its beautiful case into a wretched mess.

    If the Grand Seiko’s susceptibility to scratching is its Kryptonite weakness, then the Seiko 9F62 quartz movement must surely be its Arc Reactor powerhouse—to hopelessly mix DC-Marvel comic Universe metaphors. The GS's superpower is its extraordinary timekeeping precision in response to the Sinn’s scratch resistant TEGIMENT-hardened armour. And that timekeeping precision is extraordinary, with a specification of +/-10 seconds per year of accuracy from its airtight sealed movement providing a lifetime of thermocompensated quartz-oscillating time. It is an uncommon quartz movement like few others, and certainly like none other that I own.

    Even the discrete ticking of the seconds hand is executed with such deliberate precision that it always hits its tick marks on cue, without the slightest flutter or juddering. It’s like the seconds hand is marching in an infantry parade step around the dial, such is the sureness and firmness of each and every tick. Where the Sinn's facial stillness unburdens the mind in meditation, the Grand Seiko's tick hypnotises you.

    These two timepieces are Yin and Yan

    g: complementing one another, and the spiritual inverse of each other in numerous ways. The Grand Seiko is the fragile Mr Glass to the Sinn's Unbreakable David Dunn. One is for dressing up, the other is for getting rough. One is for telling the time, the other is for measuring time. One shines and reflects light, the other traps light like a black hole. One is artisanly handcrafted, the other is brutishly over-engineered. But both are fantastic timepieces.

  • #2
    Great write up Spock, that Sinn is very nice


    • #3

      Great write up Spock, that Sinn is very nice

      Sure is.. :thumbup:
      Tony Lewis
      New Zealand


      • #4
        What a great write up - very nicely penned, Mr Dickens !
        I like the Yin-Yang comparison with these watches. It also bears out that there is never pure Yin or pure Yang - like the Taiji symbol there is always an essence of one in the other, providing the impetus for constant change in the world. So here we have the Yin stillness within the Yang(er) Sinn, while the Yang shines forth from the Yin(er) Seiko.
        Watch-Philosophy 101 from the Department of Comparative Timekeeping? - hey there are probably stupider courses on offer !
        My karma ran over your dogma


        • #5
          Good to see your personal perspective on 2 completely different watches.
          Enjoyed your philosophical write up. :thumbup: :thumbup:
          Been a country boy I would have said "hard as nails watch" and "fancy watch"
          Look forward to your next one
          Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son


          • #6
            Great write up, love to see writing from the heart

            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


            • #7
              Spot on, seriously most of that is spot on, very nice comparo & thank you, takes a long time to produce this, appreciated.

              I love both those watches, so so similar in many ways yet equally disparate.

              You hit the mark, like the GS SEIKO, on many points.

              Loads of WIS, can learn from this.

              And beautifully written.

              Thank you.



              • #8
                Thanks for the feedback and encouragement all!

                Live long and prosper.


                • #9
                  Mine says Hi:


                  • #10
                    Should this 'comparo' be copied & pasted into the 'reviews' dept. perhaps, imvho it is easily worthy, info packed & written so eloquently
                    Timekeeper Watch Club
                    New Zealand, Pacific Ocean, Earth


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by harlansmart
                      Should this 'comparo' be copied & pasted into the 'reviews' dept. perhaps, imvho it is easily worthy, info packed & written so eloquently
                      I’ll let you judge the best home for this HS...I really need to spend some time thinking and writing another piece some time. ,-)

                      Live Long & Prosper!