Sinn has always been one of my favourite brands. Mostly appreciated by watch enthusiasts and a few commandos, they have always done things their own way. Founded in the 50s by Helmut Sinn, they set about making a high quality, affordable watch that could cope with the demands of contemporary pilots. He decided to cut out the middle man and depended on the quality of his products to promote the brand rather than spend money on marketing campaigns. This meant that a lot of professionals had the chance to get watches, virtually identical to manual wind Autavias of the time at lower prices.
Since Helmut’s departure from the company, the brand has made some effort in going mainstream while keeping true to their original values. A standard, acrylic crystal 103 can be had for £1600 which is extremely good value nowadays. The only other company that can offer something similar at a similar price point is Guinand and guess who spearheaded them from the late 90s until 2012? You guessed it, Helmut. What sets Sinn apart from Guinand is the fact that they have invested heavily in R&D and they have come up with amazing, innovative solutions that their competitors can only dream off. These include but are not limited to diapal, argon filled cases, copper sulphate capsules etc! Confused? Well head over to Sinn’s website and learn more about them.
The watch we are going to be looking at today is one of my favourite modern chronographs, the Sinn 103 Classic. It was produced back in 2011 to commemorate 50 years since the production of the first reverse panda 103. Sinn only produced 500 watches to mark the occasion and offered a re-edition of a desirable piece long before re-editions became hip! The Classic is one of the most desirable modern Sinns and for good reasons. It utilises the timeless compressor type chronograph case that was used by countless outfits in the past such as Heuer, Jaeger Lecoultre, Walkman and Dugena among others while keeping one of the most attractive and timeless dial combinations that can be found on a chronograph; a reverse panda, V, tri-register arrangement.
Thankfully, they didn’t just stop there. In order to upgrade the water resistance of the case, they used a screwed sapphire caseback, a sapphire crystal, screw down pushers and a screw down crown protected by crown guards. This means that the watch can now survive 20 atm of pressure. Not only that but it can also operate in low pressure environments. So this is a watch that can accompany a Jet fighter pilot during their first high depth diving expedition! As if this wasn’t enough they decided to go one step further and they incorporated their patented, countdown, captive safety bezel and their Ar Dehumidyfying technology. I will not bore you with the technical details but what these effectively mean is that almost no moisture will ever find its way into the watch and whatever little does will be absorbed by a special capsule and that the bezel will never snap off or fly away as a result of a knock etc.
It is not the vintage styling but the introduction of these technologies that make the Sinn 103 Classic a collector’s piece. It encapsulates the best of the past while keeping true to the company’s commitment towards continuous innovation. Remember all this new fauxtina that is currently introduced left and right on every possible re-edition? Thankfully this is not the case with this one and the normal bright white super luminova will be there to help in low lighting conditions.
Most of the differences when compared to the original have been pointed above. An additional, welcome change is that the chronograph subdial hands are arrow tipped when compared to the stick hands of the original and this makes it easier to distinguish between functions. The addition of a date function has been incorporated very nicely with white numerals on a black disk. It causes minimal disruption and it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the dial! on the contrary, the syringe hands and the painted markers remain true to the original.
The watch is a bit thicker than its predecessor measuring 17mm instead of around 12mm for the original but the slim midcase and the highly angled caseback help in concealing the actual thickness. This one is one of those that tend to receive very positive comments not just from fellow enthusiasts or collectors.
The movement is a modified Valjoux 7750 that introduces the classic, V, tri-register arrangement in the family with the running seconds placed at the 9 o clock register. A lot of people wrongly believe that the movement is a 7753 but please remember that the 7753 has a date corrector which is usually placed on the opposite side of the crown and cab be activated using a toothpick. Foe the 103 classic everything is controlled the old, usual way, from the crown! I refuse to be dragged into the off-the-shelf Vs in-house debate. I have always raved about the 7750 and will not stop doing so now!
Prices for these have been slowly increasing over the last couple of years when they are actually offered for sale. Testament to their beauty and quality though, is the fact that they rarely come up for sale and I am positive that a number of the original owners are still hanging tightly onto them without any intention of letting them go.
All in all the Classic keeps everything that it needs and nothing that it shouldn’t! It pays tribute to those amazing watches of the 60s but does not look outdated or even vintage. It just is what its name signifies a true Klassik that will remain in my collection for the years to come.