Hands-On: The Sinn 103 St Sa E, Not Just Another Vintage-Inspired Pilot’s Chronograph (Live Pics & Pricing)

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Even before qualifying as a vintage-inspired pilot’s watch, the latest Sinn 103 is, first and foremost, a proper tool watch. The chronograph is paired with a bi-directional, 60-minute countdown bezel, day and date indications at three o’clock, screw-down pushers and crown guards to protect the mechanism, as well as an anti-reflective coating on the front sapphire crystal. Some of these typically incur an extra cost, but Sinn provides it all for under $2,600 on a very sturdy stainless steel bracelet with solid end-links.

For all these reasons, the Sinn 103 St Sa is a popular pick among watch enthusiasts, particularly those looking for a watch whose looks can be traced back to the post-war period and the early days of Sinn’s history, when pilot’s chronographs had their moment with the introduction of wristwatches such as the Type XX from Breguet, the Cairelli from Zenith, and the Bundeswehr from Heuer (and Sinn for that matter). Tellingly, the Type XX and the Cairelli were both re-launched not long ago.

Heuer Bundeswehr chronograph

Heuer Bundeswehr chronograph

IWC 3705 Fliegerchronograph Reference 3705, circa 1994, uses the same movement as the latest Sinn 103.

The IWC 3705 Fliegerchronograph Reference 3705, circa 1994, uses the same movement as the latest Sinn 103

These each have their own quirks and own movements, but it’s important to note they are all primarily chronographs, whereas the 103 St Sa carries a few additional features that can be traced to later pilot’s watches, such as the Valjoux 7750–powered IWC ref. 3705. This is the movement Sinn chose for its own 103, but the case shape and bezel have decidedly mid-century roots, and the result is a watch that looks vintage, but feels quite modern.

Sinn 103 St Sa E on leather strap.

The watch is reminiscent of older pilot chronographs when it comes to the shape of the case and lugs, as well as having a bi-directional countdown bezel.

The latest version of the Sinn 103 St Sa – which Sinn has been offering in some form or another for as long as I can remember – is the first to completely assume the connection with these vintage models, thanks to the introduction of creamy luminescent material that mimics the aging found on vintage models. You’ll find it here on both the hour markers and the syringe hands.

The pushers is the unscrewed position, ready for use.

The pushers in the unscrewed position, ready for use.

Don’t be fooled by faux-patina though, this is a contemporary watch, with much better water, pressure, and magnetic resistance than those made in the 1950s (but without the decades of wear and the additional character that comes with that experience). The watch comes in a polished stainless steel case that measures 41mm from side to side, and 47mm from lug to lug, and it sits high above the wrist, being 17mm thick with the domed crystal. That last number might be a problem for some, but the watch does wear rather well for something this thick. The sides of the lugs are brushed, and the lugs themselves slope downwards for a better fit on the wrist.

Sinn 103 St Sa E size 41mm

If there’s one genre of watch that can be forgiven for being quite large, it’s the pilot’s watch. Sinn, consider yourself forgiven. This is actually quite wearable.

As mentioned above, the watch is powered by a Valjoux 7750, one of the more widely used self-winding chronograph movements, known for its reliability and serviceability. Sinn has made a few cosmetic changes to the base movement, such as adding its name on the rotor, but these are minor and have very little impact on the mechanism. The movement still carries the 42-hour power reserve, the day and date indicators, and the sturdy automatic winding mechanism.

Sinn 103 St Sa E Valjoux 7750.

A view of Sinn’s Valjoux 7750 base movement.

The Sinn 103 St Sa is a limited edition of 300 pieces, and according to Sinn, exactly half were pre-sold to customers during the first 48 hours after it was unveiled. The watch is sold on three separate strap options. Prices start at $2,250 on the leather strap and go up to $2,560 on the fine link bracelet. There is a non-limited edition available from $1,880 as well, without the overt vintage references.

Sinn 103 St Sa E limited edition

Only 300 pieces of this limited edition are being made.

For more, visit Sinn online.

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