Editor’s note: While Sydney remains in a Covid-19 related lockdown, we highly anticipate the releases from the Geneva Watch Days 2021 like a breath of fresh air. Following the coverage of Watches & Wonders 2021 and the Only Watch Auction 2021, here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Sinn 103 Classic 12. For our standard detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
What is it: The new Sinn 103 Classic 12 Chronograph LE featuring a SW510 movement, 42x17mm dimensions, 200m water-resistance and 20mm lug interhorn spacing
Why: For Geneva Watch Days 2021 (as part of the Baselworld pop-up event)
When released: 1 September 2021
Where: Available globally, but a limited edition release of 600-pieces only
Who is it for: Anyone who has grown up admiring pilot’s chronographs from an era long gone, or those to love the idea of dipping their toes in some classic watch nostalgia
Nostalgia seduces, wrapping its arm, creating memories. Well executed classic timepieces don’t come that often, and when they do, their availability is ironically left at the mercy of time (or limited numbers). But the truth is, timeless watch designs age well, and the mere concept of ‘good ol’ days’ is always luring one towards unattainable desires.
And once in a while, the tides of time smile favourably, allowing connoisseurs of fine ‘anything’ to revel in the beauty of their chosen ‘anything’. This time, Sinn favours.
Presenting the handsome new Sinn 103 Classic 12. Albeit limited, but still accessible.
Handshake of Generations Apart
Sinn 103. Like a fine bred horse, it was reared as Sinn 103 Compax to be a quiet horological legend. This is one series that is linked to the inimitable world of Helmut Sinn.
These were the original pilot’s chronographs from 1960s, and the followers of the German brand would know that the tri-compax layout, dial and bezel layouts all have changed over the decades.
Back in 2011 the brand even offered a very similar LE of 500-pieces release reverse panda 103 with a modified Valjoux 7750. Of course the thickness of timepieces have changed over the years, and I kind of wish that this new Sinn 103 Classic 12 was also around the 12mm mark of the 60s versions.
The brand’s current catalogue currently features 6 models under the 103 umbrella. This modern family’s most striking feature at a glance is perhaps the 6,9,12 sub-counter layout design.
The new Sinn 103 Classic 12 Chronograph LE changes that, reverting back to the 3,6,9 layout of the original Sinn 103 Compax models that followed alongside the design of the LeCoultre and Mathey-Tissot chronographs of the time. But the new Sinn 103 Classic 12 takes that old, familiar resemblance and makes it modern, thanks to both the bezel material and the its markings that instead of calculating 60-minutes now offer a second time zone display on a 12-hour basis with hour ratcheting.
My first reaction was to remember the Heuer Autavia that’s now sadly discontinued for a non-Autavia-esque TAG Heuer offering. And that’s a good thing. These are the pilot’s chronographs the industry needs.
Watch enthusiasts will also appreciate the dial’s ‘tool-watchness’ and the package details as well: with an ultra-legible black electroplated dial featuring a sunburst decoration and rhodium-plated appliqués coated with luminescent colour, these special editions come in a fine case with a dark green strap of wild boar leather and an additional cowhide strap with alligator embossing in black.
A nice touch of attention to detail is visible thanks to the various elements on the dial being the colour of chamois: the engraved numerals on the bezel, all the printed elements, the three counters, and the luminous colour.
The original’s acrylic glass and hand-wound movements — such as Valjoux 72 — might have been replaced, but the soul is intact.
Modern, bold, strikingly handsome, and fairly limited, these will perhaps be the cult favourites out of the ongoing Baselworld pop-up / Geneva Watch Days 2021.
The Engine & the Body
The last 103-series watch I reviewed was the limited edition Sinn 103 Sa G reference 103.172 that featured the outsourced Concepto C99001 automatic-winding chronograph movement that was anti-magnetic as per DIN 8309 movement featuring 25 jewels, beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28,000 vph) and was a clone of the Valjoux 7750 but with a day-date complication.
The new Sinn 103 Classic 12 also features an outsourced movement, but this time from Sellita, the SW-510. This is also an automatic movement with similar specs: 27 jewels, 4Hz frequency, anti-magnetic as per DIN 8309, but offering only a date complication. This Sellita movement should thankfully offer a higher power reserve of ~60-hours compared to the 42-48 hour power reserve of the Concepto C99001.
Both these watches, Sinn 103 Sa G and the new Sinn 103 Classic 12 feature similar dimensions as well.
The latter is encased inside a 41mm diameter and 17mm — 1mm more than the former — thick polished stainless steel case with a band lug width of 20mm and a screw-fastened case-back along with a screw-down crown and crown guards. The 200m water-resistant (and pressure resistant) case meets the technical requirements for waterproofness, as set out in standard DIN 8310. It’s a decently weighted watch coming in at 88 gramme — 11g more than the Sinn 103 Sa G — weight sans strap.
I keep on referring to the green-overdose beauty from last year because that happens to be one of my favourite Sinn watches, and somehow the new offering manages to topple my interest in the former. Though I wouldn’t say no to having both now, would I?!
Usually Sinn 103 range features both acrylic crystals and non-ceramic bezels.
The new Sinn 103 Classic 12 changes that, introducing to the mix a transparent case back made of sapphire crystal and a captive bezel with 12-hour ratcheting and ceramic insert. It also features its Ar-Dehumidifying Technology that’s handy for enhanced functional reliability and freedom from fogging.
That’s All Folks!
I would even dare to say that the new Sinn is perhaps one of the best pilot’s chronographs in the market today. Sinnfully handsome, and insanely ‘tool-worthy’ like any Sinn offering, it rewrites the glorious past of pilot’s chronos. If there was ever a cloud of doubt that whether this 60th anniversary special will deliver, Sinn flies to the foundation’s of its past and emerges glorious.
“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought; I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought”.
Shakespeare may sadly be long gone — though probably turning and cursing in his grave looking at Twitter and other works of the day — and also Helmut Sinn, but if you are someone who in a moment of sweet silent thought wished you had one of the original — or the 2011 version —design Sinn 103s, the new Sinn 103 Classic 12 brings about remembrance of things past, and the 600-piece run ensures that you don’t sigh the lack of this chronograph you sought.
To find out more about the new Sinn 103 Classic 12 and other Sinn watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are © Sinn / Copyright Sinn Spezialuhren.