This is my Sinn 104 I St Sa. This wristwatch commemorates a personal achievement of mine, transitioning from my military career to earn my undergraduate degree and getting accepted into graduate school. Although it memorializes a single moment for now, the wear and scratches inherited across a lifetime will embody more stories to tell: this is the deep-rooted appeal of mechanical watches.

Helmut Sinn was a pilot instructor and a former German pilot in World War II. He founded Sinn Spezialuhren in 1961 and specialized in manufacturing pilot watches. Today, Sinn is arguably Germany’s finest watch manufacturer. The Sinn 104 is one of the latest models produced by Sinn, and while many pilot watches offer complicated dials, the Sinn 104 takes a modest approach, giving it a classic aesthetic. Though the Sinn 104 may lack sophistication and be one of Sinn’s entry-level wristwatches, it boasts the same elegance and inspiration offered by its more prestigious counterparts. At the end of the day, a watch is nothing more than a watch, but the personal recognition we assign to it is what makes it special. This is a mechanical masterpiece that deserves to be worn every day and it is a classy timepiece for any occasion. This is a watch that can one day become a family heirloom.

Sinn 104 Review: The classic pilot watch

Specifications

-Case diameter: 41mm
-Case thickness: 11.5mm
-Band lug width: 20mm
-Weight w/o strap: 73g
-Movement: SW 220-1 (automatic)
-Polished stainless-steel case
-Sapphire crystal in front (anti-reflective on both sides)
-Sapphire crystal case back (anti-reflective on the interior)
-60-click bidirectional pilot’s bezel with luminous key mark
-Day and date display
-Seconds stop function (hacking movement)
-Water-resistant to 200m (20 bar)
-Shock resistant (DIN ISO 1413 standard)
-Anti-magnetic (DIN 8309 standard)

 

Specifications courtesy of Sinn Spezialuhren

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Sinn 104 Review: The classic pilot watch

The specifications and features of the watch are perfect, and it has everything I would want in a high-quality watch. For starters, the Sinn 104 has excellent dimensions for most wrists. A 41mm diameter sits right at the threshold of being too big or small, a 11.5mm thickness offers a slim profile, and a 47mm lug-to-lug measurement ensures the watch won’t sit awkwardly on smaller wrists.

Sinn 104 Review: The classic pilot watch

The Sinn 104 features the SW 220-1 automatic movement by Sellita. The SW 220-1 is Sellita’s equivalent of the prestigious ETA movement which is owned and restricted to an extent by the Swatch Group to third-party watch manufacturers. Both the SW 220-1 movement and its ETA counterpart are nearly identical and perform exceptionally well, so the Sinn 104 is at least equal to some of the finest watches in the world. The movement features hand-winding, a hacking or seconds stop function (the stopping of the second hand to set the watch to an exact time), and certified magnetic and shock resistance.

Sinn 104 Review: The classic pilot watch

The watch is also equipped with a 60-click bidirectional pilot’s bezel. Common bezels like those on dive watches measure how much time has elapsed whereas the pilot’s bezel (also called a countdown bezel) is used to measure how much time is remaining. A countdown bezel can take a little getting used to at first but is just as useful, I personally like the change-up as I rotate my watch collection. The rotation of the bezel on the Sinn 104 is crisp and sits securely with no play. The one complaint owners may have is that a 120-click bezel would have been a little more precise at tracking time, but that is merely personal preference.

Sinn 104 Review: The classic pilot watch

The Sinn 104 can be purchased with an H-linked bracelet or a dark brown vintage calf leather strap. I ended up going with the leather strap to save a couple hundred dollars. The watch strap is thicker than your average leather strap and features a stainless-steel buckle signed by Sinn. While I usually find aftermarket straps for most of my watches, I kept the Sinn 104’s leather strap because of its high quality and because its thickness helps it from becoming distorted after repeated wear.

Sinn 104 Review: The classic pilot watch

At the time of writing this review, WatchBuys is the only authorized Sinn distributor in North America. Currently, the Sinn 104 I St Sa with leather strap sells for $1,290. While it may fetch a high price tag, it is only a mere portion of what some watch brands demand for the same level of quality. While the Sinn brand may not be as recognizable as some of the big-name luxury brands on the market, the Sinn 104 is on par with some of their best watches in terms of mechanical craftsmanship. I wear my Sinn 104 nearly every day, it is a quintessential wristwatch that will last a lifetime.

All photos courtesy of the author, Matt Jin