Editor’s note: The Sinn 104 St Sa I B was first announced in 2018. It’s a classic pilot watch with a dark blue dial. Minimalistic, straightforward, legible, and sturdy. We recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with it, and in our opinion it’s not only one of the best value for money propositions from the Swiss & German watchmaking industries currently in the market but also a well-rounded timepiece that’s as good for daily wear as they get.
Minimalistic Wonder, Time-telling Thunder
There is a Melissa Camara Wilkins quote that I quite like: “Minimalism is about an intentional search for happiness”.
If you are someone like me, who has fallen down this rabbit hole, and is trying to find some justification, contentment and in turn happiness with their ever burgeoning watch collection, then be prepared to be amazed by the Sinn 104 St Sa I B. Either be it its rather low price point, its high water-resistance, or simply its overall value, you will find in its minimalism a satisfactory pause in your search for happiness.
The dimensions of 41 x 11.9mm and 46.9mm (lug-to-lug) — with the actual dial face reading a pleasant 32mm — make it a very daily wearable timepiece for someone with slimmer wrists such as myself (and for reference my wrists are 16.5cm).
It’s not that clear in the official pictures, but the legibility thanks to the contrast between white on blue is simply mind-blowing. The white syringe-shaped hands and all lume indices on a sun-ray dial are executed to perfection.
A practical tool watch, especially one that can be used by pilots, has to be legible. And like the majority of Sinn watches, the Sinn 104 one retains that practicality.
Even night-time legibility courtesy lume is commend-worthy. In terms of lume, I appreciate that only the bold, triangular 12’o clock pip-marker on the bezel lights up, along with the indices and the hands (including the tip of the second’s hand).
No frivolous use of extra lume. Just to the point. Practical and useful.
I also like that there is minimal text on the dial, with only the branding at 12 and ‘Automatik’ / ‘Made in Germany’ text at 6’o clock taking away your attention from its intended function.
The Sinn 104 St Sa I B with minimalistic looks, versatile personality, 200m water-resistance, bidirectional countdown captive bezel, and the added day-date complication is definitely one of the best tool meets pilot’s meets (recreational) diving meets dress watches out there. Consider the low price of 2’200 AUD, and it worthy of the praise it gets in online forums and at watch meet-ups.
Very utilitarian, over-engineered and highly functional. The hype is real.
A Dial That Rocks
There is another quote, this time by Hans Hofmann, that succinctly defines the innate charm of the Sinn 104 St Sa I B: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak”.
The Sinn 104 St Sa I B has this rather rare ability to simplify the dial to a point where not only does the blue sun-ray effect shatters any debate on whether the dial is gorgeous or not, but also allows only the intended functions of using this practical tool watch to speak.
For starters, I like how the date wheel is black and not a jarring white, and that the day-date aperture is also framed to provide with a distinctive character.
The blue under different lighting conditions reminded me of the blue of the JLC Reverso Tribute Blue Edition ref. 3978480. The sun-ray dial changes colour from bright blue to dark to slightly purple.
I also like how the hour, minute and seconds hands go to their respective tracks. A tiny detail I love is how the second’s hand tip has sunken part that cradles the lume in-fill. On the whole, the Sinn 104 St Sa I B is a handsome, practical, to the point, visually appealing timepiece.
A Body That Pleases
The iconic EZM 1 case profile is welcome. Not only is it time tested, it also works for people with slimmer wrists.
The watch case front and sides are completely polished, and while I am aware that a number of enthusiasts find it too shiny for a tool watch, I find it gives this a bit more of a dressier and versatile vibe.
The bezel from the side is split as a combination of alternating seven grooves and polished surface, interspersed with practical screws that remind of the presence of the captive bezel. The grooves are kind of smooth and don’t bother my skin. This may be too nitpicky, but for instance, the grooves on the Tudor BB58 when rotating the bezel can be a bit harsh on winter skin.
The markings on the bezel are very clear as well, and the short, angled lugs help in making this watch sit very snug on the wrist.
The one thing I am not a very big fan of is the sound of the bezel action. While its good to rotate and use, I would say that the sound of the Tudor BB58 is much more sharp and crisp. Though to give credit where due, the Sinn bezel is very smooth to operate, and clicks 60 times very nicely with no unwanted play whatsoever.
The display case-back on a tool watch is not really needed, but is somehow favourable given that the 104 St Sa I B is so understated that it can be doubled up as a dress watch. The presence of the visible gold-plated rotor at the back adds to this duality. The movement is the generic Sellita SW220-1 that is nothing to show-off to your horologically inclined mates, but for those who don’t collect watches after watches and would like to see how the movement ticks, it’s an added plus.
I appreciate that the Sinn branding continues from the dial on to the buckle and crown as well, proving a sense of uniformity. Throw it on a metal bracelet, and it goes from a pilot’s watch to an everyday tool watch with ease.
Sinn 104 Beats The Heck Out Of Everyday
Like all Sinn watches, it is a tool watch first and foremost. Everything about it seems to be engineered that way.
Both the case back and the crown are screw-fastened. It meets the technical requirements for waterproofness, as set out in standard DIN 8310, aka, with the 200m water-resistance, one can swim or shower or wash their hands without a worry. Not only this, the Sinn 104 St Sa I B is also pressure resistant to 200m as well.
One can wear it on a daily basis without having to worry about the negative interaction with magnetic forces, as it is also anti-magnetic as per DIN 8309.
For those who like to set their time accurately, it also features the seconds stop function.
The watch is also a strap monster and looks good on pretty much anything thrown at it. Below there are some mock-ups from the brand’s website for you to check it out for yourself.
Last but not the least, the engine. It may not be anything fancy, but given its used widely, and is easy and inexpensive to maintain and service, I believe that’s also a major plus from the everyday wear point-of-view (and Sinn also provides with extra tool bars for strap changes ). It sadly does have a low power reserve of only 38-hours, but if you are going to be wearing this everyday, that’s immaterial.
Popping The Hood
The Sinn 104 St Sa I B ref. 104.013 features the Sellita SW220-1 automatic movement that is a clone of the ETA 2836-2. ETA 2836-2 in itself pretty much the same movement as the time-tested ETA 2834 (except for the location of the day aperture). Both these movements can be found in an insane number of watches spread over lots of brands.
The SW220-1 movement is a 25.60mm diameter and 5.5mm thick movement in production since roughly 2004 that beats at the frequency of 4Hz, comprises of 26 jewels — one more than ETA caliber 2836-2 — and can offer up-to 42 hours of power reserve.
It is available in different grades: Standard, Special (Elaboré), Premium (Top) or COSC-certified. My understanding is that the Sinn 104 St Sa I B uses the Top Grade version but adjusts it in-house to achieve COSC-esque readings.
Getting Its Wings
The Sinn 104 St Sa I B is very reasonably priced at 2’200 AUD. It’s not cheap by any means, but considering the pricing and specifications of what’s around, it’s very accessible. There are a number of watches we reckon it competes with, and I am listing these (in price ascending order) below for you to make up your own mind.
These are all good in their own rights, but the combination of smaller dimensions for slim wrists, pilot’s aesthetics, and diving capabilities makes it pretty formidable.
- The Mido Ocean Star Tribute retailing for 1’400 AUD. Same 200m water resistance. Impressive 80-hour power reserve thanks to the Caliber 80 (base ETA C07.621). 40.5 x 13.4mm with similar 47mm lug-to-lug spacing. It’s a bit thicker, has the 21mm lug interhorn spacing instead of 20mm. The Mido is an exceptional value for money deal and elks handsome as well, but is a straight up dive watch rather than being a pilot’s watch
- The other timepiece that really challenges the Sinn 104 St Sa I B is the Christopher Ward C60 Elite 1000 range. They feature the same SW220-1 movement as the Sinn offering, but it is one grade up, that is COSC-certified. The CW offers also feature a much higher 1000m water-resistance, and are as such professional dive watches. Made from Grade 2 titanium, these feature an additional helium release valve, and retail for a slightly cheaper 1’570 AUD.
They, however, wear bigger, with the dimensions coming in at 42mm x 15.4mm thickness, measure 49.3mm lug-to-lug, and come with 22mm lug interhorn spacing.
I have gone hands-on with the Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 42 ref. C60-42ADA3-S0BB0-B0 which is the same diameter and overall spacing but thinner (42mm diameter x 13.4mm thick with lug-to-lug width coming in at 49.3mm). You can see in the pictures below how it’s a bit big for my slim wrists.
On the other hand, the Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 40 ref. C60-40ADA3-S0KW0-HK with 40mm diameter, 12.95mm thickness and more manageable 47.46mm lug-to-lug spacing sits very nicely on my wrists.
In contrast, the Sinn 104 St Sa I B measures 41mm x 11.9mm (only), measures a more handy smaller 46.9mm lug-to-lug, and comes with a more universally-easy-to-find-replacement-strap-options lug interhorn spacing of 20mm.
My love for CW watches is known by anyone who reads this website or I interact with, when it comes to wearability on my slim~16cm wrists, in this instance I would go for the Sinn offering. CW has lots of other timepieces that wear small that I would recommend, but within the day-date category, Sinn swims pretty much unchallenged.
To showcase how important the sizing is, for context, the popular Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue that’s universally loved for its perfect measurements for smaller to medium sized wrists comes it about the same slim-wrist friendly dimensions as that of the Sinn 104 series: 39×12.5×47.2mm.
At the end of the day, everybody has their own preferences, but I reckon dimensions make a big difference. It’s akin to looking like wearing your grandfather’s oversized suit versus wearing a suit tailored to your own specifications.
Look at the new Sinn U50 S Mother-of-pearl S for instance; it features the similar 41mm diameter and 11.15mm thick case, but with slightly larger 47.8 lug-to-lug spacing. And as much s it also sots every nicely on my wrist, I reckon the Sinn 104 St Sa I B manages to be just a little bit better.
- The Damasko DA 42 Black is another pilot’s watch from Germany that can potentially be a counterpart to the Sinn offering. It is very similar in specifications and retail pricing: 41.9mm diameter, 12.4mm thickness, 20mm lug interhorn spacing, though a bit larger 48mm lug-to-lug spacing.
I don’t have any personal experiences with the brand so can’t really talk about the build quality and QC issues (if any), but reading the forums online, it seems like a very good option too.
Solely based on pictures though, it does appear to be chunkier and busier than the Sinn 104 St Sa I B. Sinn is dressier for sure, and for those who would like to choose one daily wearable timepiece that can be more versatile, Sinn is a great offering. If you are in the market for a purely tool watch with black and red aesthetics, the Damascus is a great offering too. I guess it boils down to personal preference really.
- The Fortis x Roskosmos Official Cosmonauts Day-Date is again a great offering inline with the Sinn 104 series aesthetics. Retailing for 1’780 CHF (~2’600 AUD), it again features pilot’s watch aesthetics with a unidirectional rotating count-up bezel. It is water resistant to the same 200m but is a much larger watch at 44mm diameter and suitable for those with larger wrists. It uses the UW-31 movement which as far as I am aware is based on the same Sellita SW220-1
- The Oris Aquis Day Date retails for a higher 3’200 AUD and uses the Oris 752 movement with base SW 220-1. With 45mm diameter and a lug interhorn spacing of 24mm, it ain’t exactly sitting right on slim wrists. Beautiful blue dial though and a handsome piece for those looking at larger watches
- Marathon Jumbo Diver’s Automatic ref. WW194021 retails for 2’732 AUD and is a nice looking beast as well. It features the same ETA 2836 movement but an even larger 46mm x 18mm case
- Then there is the Ball Engineer II Skindiver Heritage ref. DM3208A-S4/P4-BK features the calibre BALL RR1102 and retails for north of the 3’000 AUD mark. The movement is encased inside a 42mm x 14.6mm stainless steel case with TiC coating. The case features a unidirectional rotating dome-shaped sapphire bezel with micro gas tubes for night reading capability and a sapphire crystal case back and a screwed-in crown. Very different aesthetics and unique thanks to the rainbow lume shots, but is again bigger in sizing
Bottom line: There could be other micro brands out there that may be less expensive than the Sinn 104 series, but throw in the brand credibility, their history, excellent minimalistic dial execution, tough tool watch quality, the countdown captive bezel that wouldn’t simply ‘chip off’, and unmissable pilot’s watch aesthetics, and what you get is a way to fly your way to an unbelievable horological destination for a steal for only 2’200 AUD.
That’s All Folks!
I will wrap this up with another quote. “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”, said Antoine de Saint-exupery.
The Sinn 104 collection may have been launched in 2013, but my favourite is this 2018 regular production model. Its affordable, dependable, and can actually be found to buy unlike some watches that are enticingly dangled in front of the enthusiasts without actually proving them with their availability. The case architecture can be given the red carpet and the minimalistic simplicity of the dial is perfect needing nothing more to add, and nothing left to take away.
Witness the sheer wizardry of this multi-purpose do-it-all tool watch that’s ready to take on whatever you may have to throw at it. Fly, recreational dive or drive – the Sinn 104 St Sa I B gets you ready for the world.
To find out more about the Sinn 104 St Sa I B and other Sinn watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are Copyright © WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Sinn watches here. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.