A few thoughts on why a Guinand timepiece might deserve a place in your collection.
This is a brand that I discovered much later than I would have liked, but is a brand that I have been somewhat obsessed with of late. If you follow me on Instagram or read my watch reviews, it is no secret that my favorite kind of watch is a tool watch. I gravitate towards watches that are well engineered and manufactured, often trading glamorous dials for robust construction. I enjoy wearing a watch, and refuse to wear a watch that makes me worry about whether it will remain safe on my wrist or not. To me, that is not the purpose of a wrist-watch. I understand the other viewpoint, where a watch is less of an instrument and more of a item of self decoration. If you handed me a Jacob & Co Astronomia Tourbillion, I will not refuse it. But I wouldn’t actively seek out a watch that I can’t accidentally drop on a granite floor, or ram into a stone pillar while being my clumsy self. The engineer in me is also drawn towards reliability, and the idea of designing a product whose sole purpose is to reject the effects of it’s environment. With that said, you can understand my excitement when I discovered Guinand Watches, a brand whose sole purpose for the last 150 years has been in the manufacturing of affordable tool watches. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock; a rock whose biggest sponsors have been the brands that you and I are exposed to on a daily basis.
I very recently passed my PhD candidacy exams and have been window shopping for a watch to celebrate this extremely stressful two-and-a-half year long personal triumph. For those that don’t know, when I’m not looking for my next watch, I have the day job of being a Robotics / Computer Science PhD candidate. I wanted to get something that I could wear on a daily basis and something that was unique. My mind is exhausted by the vapid infestation of Rolex watch shots on Instagram and the 600 different VLoggers trying to tell you that “The Rolex bubble has burst!”. I wanted something that wasn’t on the wrist of every third person I meet. I strongly considered Ming, Kurono Tokyo and Formex, but was not convinced enough to pull the trigger yet. For starters the Ming and Kurono watches do not fit my requirements of being everyday “go anywhere, do anything” watches, but they are extremely special and I’m pretty confident I won’t see them too often in the wild. The Formex Essence Leggera was my top contender and I hope to still get one of these down the road, but I was made aware of a particular watch that I immediately fell in love with – the Guinand Flight Engineer. I spent the next couple of weeks looking and drooling over this watch, waiting to fall out of love with it as I usually do. But enough time passed for me to be sure that I want it and I finally pulled the trigger. Plot twist, this post isn’t about the Guinand Flight Engineer. You’ll have to wait a few weeks for that one. This is about a different watch, but first let me answer the biggest question – “Why Guinand?”. I will answer that question by answering a different question – “Who are Guinand?”.
Guinand was born in Switzerland (1865), and in 1881 they released their own chronograph. Over the next two decades they improved upon their chronograph movement and gradually switched from pocket watches to wrist watches. In the mid 1900s, the company remained family owned and run, producing intricate chronographs and worked as a supplier to bigger well established brands at the time. In 1960, things appear to get interesting when Helmut Sinn became one of their biggest accounts, and tasked Guinand with manufacturing watches for Sinn. H. Sinn founded Sinn in 1961 and was intent on direct sales of watches to the end customer, a practice that Guinand follows to this day. H. Sinn’s motto of making watches that were “as perfect as possible, but only as expensive as necessary” still echoes through Guinand’s design and pricing. Guinand manufactured watches for Sinn until the late 80s / early 90s, and after his retirement from Sinn, H. Sinn took over Guinand from the family and moved the company to Frankfurt (Germany). H. Sinn retired once again at the age of 90 but the company continued to operate until 2014. Guinand is currently owned (since 2015) and operated by Matthias Klüh, an engineer and avid watch collector.
For a clearer more elaborate look into Guinand’s history, I urge you to read the following articles:
Since H. Sinn’s departure, Sinn as a brand has evolved with modern designs and their vastly growing customer base’s requirements. What I enjoy about Guinand watches is the fact that they have (mostly) stayed frozen in time, sticking to the original designs and business practices. Guinand manufactures all their components (cases, hands, etc) in-house along with all their quality control, and all their parts are proudly sourced from Germany (leather straps, etc). There are plenty of design similarities between Guinand and Sinn watches – dial layouts, fonts, color schemes etc. And for the reasons above, you’ll realize this is no co-incidence or homage. In terms of chronographs, I personally gravitate more towards the traditional Sinn / Guinand designs and love the Guinand Series-40 and Model-361.
As I was patiently waiting for my Flight Engineer to be built and QC’d, I made the mistake of browsing the Classifieds section of Watchuseek, only to find Bhanu Chopra (go read his excellent articles if you haven’t already) selling a Guinand HS100 in excellent condition. I was aware of this watch and it’s story and didn’t hesitate to reach out to him. Fast forward 3 days and I am now the proud owner of a Guinand HS100, and one of the coolest aspects of this watch is that it is #99 of 100. You can read more about Bhanu’s amazing interaction with the man himself here.
The HS100 was made to commemorate Helmut Sinn’s 100th birthday. 100 pieces were made in honor of his love for pilot watches and automotives. The 60s/70s influence is evident with the bright white sub-dials and aggressive red accents. I will make a review dedicated to this watch in the coming weeks. If you should take anything away from this article let it be that Guinand watches is a brand that is worth considering when you look out for your next watch. If you like tool watches, fliegers and unique brands with colorful histories – Guinand deserves to make it to your list of possibilities.