Sinn EZM 9 TESTAF: The Definitive Pilot Watch?
Hang around the mechanical watch industry long enough, and you’ll begin to notice some discrepancies in the area of certification. Diving watches are, for example, regulated by the ISO 6425 international standard, which prescribes various tests that must be passed in order for the watch to have “DIVER’S” marked on its dial. Accuracy can be […]
Hang around the mechanical watch industry long enough, and you’ll begin to notice some discrepancies in the area of certification. Diving watches are, for example, regulated by the ISO 6425 international standard, which prescribes various tests that must be passed in order for the watch to have “DIVER’S” marked on its dial. Accuracy can be guaranteed to some extent too, with COSC that certifies Swiss-made chronometers, and more recently Chronometric+ that tests complete watches. Other standards like the Poinçon de Genève also come to mind.
What about pilot watches?
Until recently, the industry has lacked a uniform set of standards for testing pilot watches. Sinn has, however, partnered with the Aachen University of Applied Sciences to develop such a standard for pilot watches to be used in a professional context – TESTAF – which was presented publicly in 2012. To be certified TESTAF, a watch must pass a battery of tests: readability, accuracy, water and shock resistance, ambient pressure changes and operational temperature range, to name a few. Interestingly, the ISO was bypassed entirely, apparently due to the time and tediousness associated with obtaining an industry wide consensus. Expectedly, initial adoption has been slow. Stowa, an independent German company, is the only other watchmaker using it currently.
As a TESTAF-certified watch, the EZM 9 bears testament to Sinn’s reputation as an engineering brand. The watch may not seem like much at first glance, with a simple three-hand layout and a date window at three o’clock. On closer inspection, you’ll notice details that makes it straddle the line between luxury and tool watches. For one, the bezel has luminous countdown markings (note the anticlockwise running of numbers) for a pilot’s use. In contrast, a diver who measures elapsed time underwater will use conventional markings instead. Interestingly, the orange second hand will glow under UV light in a cockpit (or a club). The bezel has been capped with a sapphire crystal both for a touch of bling and to protect the Super-LumiNova underneath. Beyond its TESTAF specifications, the EZM 9 also uses a hardened titanium case, and has a Sinn-specific dehumidifying capsule to keep its interior moisture free. Given its relative simplicity, Sinn has chosen the workhorse Sellita SW200-1 to drive this watch.
The EZM 9 and its TESTAF siblings raise a few interesting questions for an industry that is often resistant to change. Is this really necessary, in an age where Navy SEALs have swapped their Rolex Submariners for Casio G-Shocks? We think so. Make no mistake, this testing standard and its associated watches were designed to help Sinn differentiate its products and sell more watches. This is, however, no mere marketing campaign – a look into TESTAF reveals its technical rigour and the engineering that went into it. Few readers of this website will buy the EZM 9 for aviation usage. You cannot however, deny that its features such as shock and magnetic resistance are useful even for the everyman, as he navigates the concrete jungle he lives in.
The Sinn EZM 9 is available in leather strap for S$8,300 and in rubber strap or titanium bracelet for S$9,300.