The German watch brand Sinn is known amongst watch enthusiasts as being one of the most innovative and technologically advanced brands in the market. Sinn is a young brand in comparison to its competitors, but it has made sure to keep up and stay ahead by consistently creating new technologies. The history of Sinn Watches may be short, but it is very rich with stories of innovation and great adventure.
Founding the Brand (1961-1993)
Helmut Sinn founded ‘Helmut Sinn Spezialuhren’ in Frankfurt in 1961. Sinn was a former World War II pilot and an instructor for blind flight. He used his knowledge of aviation to manufacture navigation clocks and pilot chronographs. The pilot’s watch is still one of the brand’s most popular styles today.
The brand grew and developed over the next two decades and in 1985, Professor Dr Reinhard Furrer, a German physicist, wore the 140 S model on his wrist during the D-1 space lab mission. This mission put a Sinn watch in the public eye, so fortunately the self-winding automatic movement of the watch continued working, even in space. This was one of the building blocks of the brand’s excellent reputation. If the watch could withstand space, it could certainly handle Earth-based adventure.
Sinn went to space again in 1992, this time in the form of the 142 S. The watch was worn by Dietrich Flade during the Mir-92 mission. The brand’s association with space continued into 1993 when the 142 space chronograph went on the second German Spacelab mission, the D-2. The mission was in space for 10 days, and in that time the watch flew 6.7 million kilometres and orbited the Earth 160 times whilst on board the NASA space Shuttle, Colombia.
New Beginnings (1994-1997)
1994 brought a new owner to Sinn. Lothar Schmidt, a certified engineer, acquired the brand on 1st September 1994 and renamed the company ‘Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH’. Schmidt made many changes to the company to launch it into the future and advance its technical expertise. The first watch built under Schmidt’s lead was the 244 model made of titanium, with magnetic field protection and a freely oscillating suspended movement. This model far exceeded the DIN standard for anti-magnetic watches.
Sinn launched their first gold watch in 1995. It used a high proportion of gold to ensure that this luxury watch was as high-quality as possible. Sinn technologies made the 22-carat special alloy match the hardness of stainless-steel. After the launch of this watch, Sinn developed Ar-Dehumidifying technology. It was first used in the 203 Ti Ar diving watch. The technology prevents the crystal from fogging up when the watch meets sudden temperature changes. The technology helps to slow down the ageing process of the watch components and can therefore extend the lifetime of watches.
The brand produced the EZM1 and EZM2 mission timers in 1997. These models were famously used by special forces police and the Border Protection Group of Federal Police. The situations that the watches were used in demanded incredibly precise timing as it could mean the difference between life and death.
Continuous Innovation (1998-2005)
As Schmidt promised, the brand continued to excel in their technological advancements. In 1998, the brand combined their Ar-dehumidifying technology with Sinn special oil to create a new temperature resistant technology. This allowed watches to remain functional between -45˚C and +80˚C. This technology was put to the test at the Yukon Quest, one of the most demanding dog sled races. The 303 KRISTALL model was worn throughout the race and performed excellently despite the challenging conditions.
Sinn continued to put their watches through extreme tests to prove just how robust they were. In 1999, the 203 ARKTIS chronograph was worn by Mario M. Weidner for an endurance test in the Arctic Sea. Weidner was an extreme diver and certainly put the watch through its paces. Despite the adverse environment, the watch passed this test with flying colours.
DIAPAL technology was first introduced in the 18-carat white gold Frankfurt Financial District Watch in 2001. This new technology used material that did not require lubrication. This meant that the long-term precision of Sinn watches could be much higher. The brand continued to produce ground-breaking watch technology with the introduction of TEGIMENT in the 750 model. This is a process by which a stainless-steel case is hardened, making it resistant to scratches. Sinn continued to perfect their watch cases through 2005 and began using German submarine steel in their diving watches. This led Sinn to be the first in the watch industry to have their watches certified by the Germanischer Lloyd of Hamburg for compliance with European Standards of diving equipment.
Sinn Watches in the Modern Day (2011-Present day)
Despite having achieved so much, Sinn are not content to settle. The brand has continued to develop new technologies in recent years. In 2011, just in time for the 50th birthday, the brand launched the SZ01 central top minute hand model. It was based on the Lemania 5100 and designed so that any watch that featured it could also feature a centre-mounted jump 60-minute stopwatch.
Sinn have always shown favouritism for pilot’s watches as this is the model that the brand was built on. This was shown in 2012 when Sinn were the first watch brand to respond to TESTAF’s announcement of standards to regulate pilot’s watches. Sinn were the first brand to make watches to meet these standards, and these watches now feature a TESTAF quality seal on the dial.
The German commando frogman force KSM recognised Sinn for the qualities the brand prides itself on when they selected the UX S Combat Swimmer (EZM 2B) to be their timepiece of choice in 2015. They chose the watch for its optimal readability in all light conditions, seawater resistance and extreme durability. Being part of the frogman force uniform is a true testament to the technology and research that has gone into producing Sinn watches.
Sadly, Helmut Sinn died in 2018 at 101 years old. His legacy lives on through the success of his company and fame of his watches. Unfortunately, he did not live to see Schmidt celebrate his 25th anniversary at the company in 2019.
Most recently, Sinn has been awarded the ‘Excellent Product Design 2021’ at the German Design Awards for the 104 St Sa I A. Only products demonstrating outstanding qualities can be considered for the award. This model encompasses Sinn’s expert craftsmanship and proves that decades of hard work and innovation have paid off to produce such a high-quality, luxurious timepiece.
If our history of Sinn Watches has sparked your interest, keep reading for some recommendations.
This award-winning watch comes from the Sinn 104 collection, a family of pilot’s watches. The pilot watch design of this model is reminiscent of Helmut Sinn’s life and initial designs for the brand. The heritage of this watch makes it a quintessential Sinn timepiece and its award for ‘Excellent Product Design 2021’ ensures that it is a watch of the highest standard. All of the watches in the 104 collection are powered by a calibre SW 220-1 movement and feature a captive pilot’s bezel. The unique feature of this model is the anthracite electroplated dial with sunburst detailing. Anthracite gives the dial a distinctive colour, ensuring it will stand out on the wrist. The indices and hands are coated in luminescent colour to give optimal readability in all lighting conditions. This model is finished with a grey Alcantara suede strap, giving the watch a chic finish. The grey suede makes a pleasant contrast to the standard stainless-steel or black leather, making the watch unique and eye-catching. This watch is perfect for fans of the Sinn brand as its pilot’s style embodies the brand’s beginnings and its award-winning design encompasses everything Sinn have achieved with their technological innovation.
This is the perfect model for those who would like to own a piece of aviation history. Sinn were the first watch brand to produce watches that complied with TESTAF’s pilot watch standards. This model is a modern example of Sinn’s constant innovation and excellent engineering. The watch is water-resistant to 200 metres, and the silicone strap makes it even more suitable for the water. The watch features a classic pilot’s bezel with a triangular key mark for easy readability. The hands and batons are coated in luminescent colour to ensure that the dial can be read even in the dark. The dial of this chronograph model features three sub dials for optimal timekeeping. The watch is all black in colour, apart from the stainless-steel case and an orange sub dial. The dark colouring gives the watch a sleek, classic look but the iconic Sinn features ensures it maintains its edge of modernity. With an invention based in the history of Sinn watches, this model would be the perfect addition to any aviation or Sinn enthusiast’s collection.
The Sinn 556 Collection is a family of sport’s watches. The dials of this collection are all designed to be sparse and simple, making them easy to read in a hurry. This model features a stainless-steel two-link bracelet to achieve a chic, sporty finish. The sports watch look is furthered by the diamond-cut hands and accentuated batons for easy readability. The white batons and hands contrast the black, glossy dial making for a striking appearance. A date aperture can be found at the 3 o’clock point, but it is small and discreet enough that is does not intrude on the simple dial. The watches in the 556 collection use a calibre SW 220-1 movement to ensure precise and reliable timekeeping. The dial and the case back are covered with scratch-resistant sapphire glass so that the watch will keep its brand-new look for years to come. The clear case back allows the wearer to observe and enjoy the high-quality movement in their Sinn timepiece. The simplicity of this watch is what makes it attractive. This Sinn model does not need intricate detailing. The movement and materials alone make this watch a luxurious addition to any outfit.
This Cockpit Clock is an iconic piece of the history of Sinn Watches. When he first founded Helmut Sinn Spezialuhren, Sinn manufactured navigation clocks using his knowledge as a pilot and flight instructor. Sinn’s aviation knowledge was incredibly valuable to the brand and his legacy is still presence in the great number of pilot’s watches the brand produces today. This piece of history would make an excellent gift to fans of both aviation and the Sinn brand. It is a perfect collector’s piece as it encompasses what it means to be a Sinn product, from the high-quality manufacturing down to the aviation history. Although it is not a watch, this Cockpit Navigation Clock is an example of timekeeping excellence.
What did you think of our history of Sinn Watches? Did any of our recommendations catch your eye? Let us know in the comments below!