Unless you’re new around here, you probably already know we love chronographs with center minute counters. They’re so utterly intuitive that it’s a surprise and a shame watchmakers don’t utilize that style of chronograph more often. Our favorite versions tend to be vintage center minute chronographs, like Lemania 5100 based examples, the Breitling Superocean Slow Counter, and any Longines 13ZN center minutes. However, not everyone wants to go the vintage route, and that’s also ignoring how expensive some of these vintage center minute chronos can be. That’s why we’re taking a look at three center minute chronographs available on the market today in our latest Face Off.
Habring Chrono ZM
This one might look familiar to you. Some time ago, we reviewed Habring2’s COS Chrono, which I requested have the center minute counter just for fun. This one here is the more standard version you can find on the website, sans COS, and with the running seconds. I truly fell in love with the Habring2 COS while I had it, and I think the brand is criminally underrated. Richard’s creativity and modular approach to watchmaking make for fairly priced and unique timepieces.
What sets this watch off for me is the dial. Not only does the center minute layout clean up the dial considerably, but also I’m a sucker for sector dials. To me, this looks like it could have been a concept watch in the 1950s. Like nearly all of their watches, the Chrono ZM is based on an ETA 7750, and you can get it in either an automatic or manual wind. I personally would prefer the manual, if not just to cut down on thickness. Available in 42mm and 36mm cases, I think the 42mm is more proportional to the thickness, which I’d say is about 14mm. Since Habring2 builds their watches to order, prices vary, but I’d expect the midpoint for a Chrono ZM to be about $6,000. That’s not a heavy price for what’s essentially a custom built watch from a watchmaker with a fantastic history.
Tutima Saxon One
Moving a bit further north on the map, we find ourselves in Glashütte, and with the brand Tutima. Known primarily for their German military chronographs, Tutima has made a strong push to bring another serious watchmaker to the storied town of Glashütte.
Tutima was one of the last companies to utilize the Lemania 5100, and they’ve carried on its functionality in a modified ETA 7750 known as the Tutima Caliber 521. They use this caliber also in their M2 line, which will conjure up thoughts of their old Bund chronographs, but they’ve got a totally different look going on with the Saxon One.
Housed in a sort of TV-style case, the Saxon One is a unique, modern looking chronograph. I’m a big fan of the anthracite dial with red accents, along with the integrated strap. I can see a bit of Royal Oak Offshore with this look, but the unique case and obviously awesome chronograph configuration totally sets it apart. What’s more, the little details are impressive. Tutima didn’t go for standard baton or dauphine hands, they did sort of a modified leaf/alpha hand that you rarely see. It’s safe to say the Saxon One is truly its own watch. At just over $6,000, you get a head-turner that’s no off-the-shelf timepiece.
Sinn 140 St
Taking a sharp left turn towards the west, we land in Frankfurt, and at the factory of Sinn. Okay, you all know this by now, but we love Sinn watches. Like both Habring2 and Tutima, Sinn doesn’t get the attention it deserves (except from us, of course). Historically, they’ve been a big proponent of the Lemania 5100 and center minute chronographs. Aside from Tutima, they used the 5100 for just about as long as anyone. And, like Tutima, they’ve got their own modified ETA 7750 that copies its functionality.
So, what does Sinn do with their Lemania 5100 revival? They bring back one of their most storied timepieces, the 140 St. Used in space, the original 140 S proved that automatic winding systems could be functional in the zero gravity environment. Since then, it became one of Sinn’s most recognizable designs. With its cushion case and utilitarian design, the 140 St is back and better than ever. I say this because Sinn of course includes some of their latest technologies, like TEGIMENT steel, and an Argon-filled case. For just over $4,100, it’s a competitively priced beast ready to tackle anything you throw at it.by