Humism Introduces Self-Winding, Kinetic Art Watches

Affordable timepieces featuring animated dials.

The latest crowdfunded watch brand is Humism, a Singapore based outfit that’s inspired by the kinetic art movement which enjoyed a boom in the 1950s and 1960s. Humism’s debut collection consists of three watches with dials featuring an animated spiralling pattern, and unlike most such watches, are powered by automatic Seiko movements.

While each model has a different dial motif, they all rely on the same principle for animation. Time is displayed in a simple yet intriguing fashion: a set of stacked, laser-cut discs with the hours and minutes each indicated by a solid and hollow circle respectively. The seconds disc is in constant motion, creating a kaleidoscopic effect as it rotates over the hours and minutes discs.

01 Eudaimonia Gif 2 1000px

Humism Kinetic Art Eudaimonia 2

Eudaimonia

The three models are each named after ancient Greek philosophical concepts: Eudaimonia, Geist and Dasein. Eudaimonia consists of four concentric circles that dilate as the discs rotate, while Geist uses organic shapes to create an illusion of differing speeds, and Dasein is a geometric floral pattern that radiates from the center of the dial.

Humism Kinetic Art Geist

Geist

Dasein

Humism Kinetic Art Dasein

The watches share the same 39mm stainless steel case. Inside is the trusty 24-jewel Seiko NH-35A movement that has a power reserve of 40 hours and a customised rotor visible through the sapphire caseback.

Price and availability 

Available for pre-order here, prices start at US$245 for the first 99 watches, and US$265 subsequently. Five percent of sales will be donated to The Red Pencil, a non-profit organisation based in Singapore that advocates the use of art as therapy to help children overcome emotional trauma.


 

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IWC Introduces the Mark XVIII Edition ‘Laureus Sport for Good’ in Black Ceramic

A metallic blue dial, and funding for a good cause.

Every year for over a decade now, IWC unveils a limited edition to raise funds for the Laureus foundation, a charity that brings sport to underprivileged children across the world. Each year’s Laureus watch has been different from the last – the preceding editions were the Da Vinci chronograph and ladies’ Portofino – but all share the same deep blue metallic dial.

The latest watch for the good cause is unusual, being the very first Laureus watch in black ceramic, the very first Laureus in a material other than stainless steel in fact. The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” has a glossy black ceramic case that’s 41mm in diameter, being the same case as that on the Mark XVIII Miramar.

And as is tradition the usual matte black dial has been replaced by one in metallic blue, with a red-tipped seconds hand for some colour.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation”

The other feature that’s a Laureus tradition is the engraving on the case back that reproduces a drawing by a child selected by the foundation. This year’s motif was done by an 11-year-old Brazilian girl who is part of Instituto Reação, a Laureus-supported organisation in Brazil dedicated to improving the lives of slum-dwelling children with education and sports such as judo.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” 3

Like the standard Mark XVIII, the Laureus edition is powered by the cal. 35111, which is a rebadged Sellita SW300. And it’s enclosed by a soft-iron cage to protect the movement from magnetism, a standard feature on IWC’s aviator watches.

The watch is paired with a crosshatch embossed calfskin leather strap.

Price and Availability

The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” (ref. IW324703) is a limited edition of 1,500 pieces and is priced at US$5650 or S$8,650. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the edition will go to Laureus Sport for Good.


 

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Introducing the Frederique Constant Hybrid, Automatic Smartwatch

A bona fide mechanical smartwatch – with an in-house movement.

Frederique Constant was the first Swiss watchmaker to jump on the wearables bandwagon with its Horological Smartwatch that launched in 2015. But the Horological Smartwatch wasn’t a conventional touchscreen wearable, instead it fused smartwatch functions with traditional analogue display, making it more of a quartz hybrid than a smartwatch.

Now Frederique Constant has upped its game with the Hybrid Manufacture, a smartwatch powered by an in-house mechanical movement that the brand says is entirely Swiss, though its parent company is Citizen Watch of Japan.

The Hybrid Manufacture measures 42mm and is available in four iterations – three in stainless steel and another in rose gold-plated steel. Like the Horological Smartwatch, the dial of the Hybrid Manufacture is traditional with an engine-turned centre, Breguet-style hands and Roman numerals.

One of the four iterations, however, is an 888-piece limited edition with a slightly more sporty look, with luminous lance-shaped hands with applied hour markers.

Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture 4

Developed entirely in-house, the cal. FC-750 is a self-winding movement with a battery-powered module on top. A patented shield was developed to house the electronics, in order to prevent the mechanical portion of the movement from being magnetised by the smartwatch module.

Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture 2The mechanical calibre is tells the time, with hours, minutes, seconds as well as the date, while the electronic module covers the same ground as any other smartwatch – sleep monitoring, activity tracking, health advice, as well as a world time function.

Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture 1

The sub-dial at 12 o’clock indicates a handful of basic smartwatch functions, with the full complement of data available on a paired smartphone thanks to a dedicated app. The watch links to a smartphone via Bluetooth, with the link established through the pusher on the left side of the case.

But the most interesting feature is the built-in equivalent of a Witschi machine that measures the rate, amplitude and beat error of the mechanical movement automatically every day, itself an evolution of the add-on measuring device Frederique Constant unveiled two years ago.

Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture 5

Visible through the case back, the mechanical movement has an open-worked rotor, runs at 28,800bph and offers a 42-hour power reserve, while the electronic module needs to be charged every seven days.

Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture 6

The watch is packaged in a wood box that contains both a winder for the automatic movement and a removable charger that can be used on the go.

Price and Availability

The Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture in steel with silver dial (ref. FC-750MC4H6) or with navy dial (ref. FC-750MCN4H6) cost US$3495.

The steel model with a grey luminous dial (ref. FC-750DG4H6) is a limited edition of 888 pieces, priced at US$3595.

And the rose gold-plated model (ref. FC-750MC4H4) is US$3795.


 

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Hands-On with the Sinn EZM 1.1 (And How It Compares to the Original EZM 1)

The special forces chronograph, now large and luxe.

Bigger is not usually better, though in the case of the Sinn EZM 1.1, it is. While not as historical as the original EZM 1, the upsized remake is an intrinsically better watch in fit, finish and function.

Unveiled in 1997, the original EZM 1 (ref. 503.010) was a no-nonense, low-cost watch designed for the Zentrale Unterstützungsgruppe Zoll (ZUZ), the SWAT team of Germay’s federal customs authority, and not the GSG 9 police unit as sometimes assumed. Not long after, additional watches were also made for the customs service’s technical support unit Zentrale Technikgruppe Zoll (ZTZ).

As the story goes, the crown and pushers were position on the left of the case so to prevent them from digging into the back of the wrist while using firearms and dealing with heavily armed smugglers.

With perhaps 50 or so watches in total produced for both units – issued watches had the unit logo on the dial at six o’clock – plus around the same number made as a ZUZ limited edition for Japan, the EZM was also a commercially available wristwatch, priced at about US$2000 or so. The civilian versions had a “3H” logo on the dial, indicating the use of tritium, which was later replaced by an “Ar” logo when Super-Luminova became the standard luminous material on watch dials.

The original EZM, short for Einsatzzeitmesser, which translates as “mission timer”.

Made of titanium and powered by the economical Lemania 5100 movement, the EZM 1 was lightweight, distinctly no-frills, and discontinued in 2004 (though a 250-piece limited edition was made in 2008). Given the cult favourite it was, what happened late last year was not completely unexpected: revealed the EZM 1.1, a remake of the original boasting numerous upgrades.

Sinn EZM 1.1 steel 1


Significantly larger than the original, the EZM 1.1 is 43mm wide and 16.4mm high, while the original was 40mm by 16mm. Though the watches share the same design, the increase in size is not exactly to scale – the EZM 1.1 is proportionately slimmer than the EZM 1, since its increase in diameter is way more than the increase in height. Additionally, the EZM 1 has a higher, more rounded domed crystal than its successor, making it feel even thicker.

The EZM 1.1, however, is much heavier, being steel instead of titanium. The change of material is a step forward because the steel is treated with Sinn’s Tegiment process (which is similar to Kolsterising) that hardens the surface, leaving it hardy and nearly scratch-proof. The case is uniformly finished with a fine sandblasting on all surfaces, giving it a look similar to the titanium of the EZM 1. The Tegiment steel is nevertheless a shade lighter than titanium, and also carries a faint tinge of yellow in certain light.

Sinn EZM 1.1 steel 7

A less obvious upgrade is the bezel, which was a conventional snap-on bezel in the original EZM 1. Its bigger brother is equipped with what Sinn calls a “captive bezel”, one that is secured with screws, preventing it from being knocked loose as is possible with a snap-on bezel.

While in the hand the watch feels indestructible, on the wrist that makes it less comfortable. The EZM 1.1 sans strap and buckle weighs 106g, compared to just 61g for the EZM 1. The size and weight makes the watch feel reassuringly solid and well-made, but also large and clumsy. It’s always present on the wrist, unlike the titanium EZM 1 that can sometimes be forgotten (especially when worn with a strap). So it is somewhat of the quandary: when the lightness of the original EZM 1 gave it a bona fide military feel, as a watch it felt somewhat downmarket.

Notably, despite its increased size, the EZM 1.1 is rated to 200m, compared to 300m for the EZM 1.

Sinn EZM 1.1 steel 9

Both EZMs, however, share the same “Ar-Dehumidifying Technology”, which is a copper sulphate capsule embedded in the case that’s meant to absorb moisture inside, as well as an inert gas injected inside the case during assembly. On the original EZM 1 the gas was argon – explaining the “Ar” logo and moniker – but sometime in the mid-2000s Sinn replaced argon with nitrogen, which functions the same way but costs less.

The copper sulphate capsule starts out as pale blue and darkens as its absorbs moisture.


The other major upgrade is the movement. The EZM 1 was powered by the Lemania 5100, an inexpensive movement with rudimentary finishing and a handful of low-friction plastic parts (partially explaining the low jewel count of 17), mainly because it had a central minute counter. All the chronograph registers were removed for legibility, giving the EZM 1 its characteristic look.

Sinn EZM 1.1 steel 5

Although it’s now over 20 years old, the look is still one of the strengths of the watch. Though Sinn still makes admirably straightforward watches, its chronographs have gradually become fancier in design, leaving the EZM 1.1 the only chronograph in the catalogue with such a sparsely populated dial. And the design works, it is swiftly readable in practically any lighting.

While the EZM 1.1 keeps the same look and the central minute counter, the movement is actually derived from the Valjoux 7750. Named the SZ01, the calibre was developed in-house by Sinn, which modified the 7750 to give it a central minutes register.

One of the reasons the SZ01 was developed was because the Lemania 5100 was discontinued (though the movement later evolved into the low-cost calibre found in the Swatch automatic chronograph as well as entry-level Tissot chronographs).

Sinn EZM 1.1 steel 3

The movement is probably the primary reason why the EZM 1.1 costs almost US$5000, or double what the EZM 1 did. While the jump in price is significant, it comes 20 years later, and puts the EZM 1.1 on par with other Sinn watches equipped with the same movement. More importantly, it still leaves Sinn competitively priced relative to the competition.


The affordable pricing does mean that the dial and hands are pretty basic, in terms of printing and finishing, when examined up close. The border of the white luminous paint on the black hands, for instance, is fuzzy. And there have also been several reports of misaligned minute markers on the dial, according to participants of the Sinn forum on Watchuseek.

Sinn EZM 1.1 steel 4

The tally of pros and cons of the EZM 1.1 ends positive; the watch offers a lot for the money. Take it as a military-inspired watch – with bona fide military heritage – featuring all of Sinn’s technology bells and whistles, and it’s easy to be pleased with it. There isn’t quite anything else like it on the market today.

The EZM 1.1 is limited to 500 pieces, and by all accounts is selling briskly. The biggest drawback of the watch hinges on a potentiality: whether or not Sinn releases additional variants of the watch in the future (like one with a black-coated case for instance). If that did happen, it would diminish the appeal of the EZM 1.1, leaving it feeling a lot more expensive and run of the mill.


 

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