German watchmaker Sinn has its grips firmly in the tool watch scene at all levels. You can hardly begin a discussion about specialized tool watches without Sinn dominating the conversation — and rightfully so. The Frankfurt-based watchmaker has consistently churned out stellar watches that are tailored to a variety of professions and can frequently be found on the wrist of professionals operating at the highest levels of their fields. From oil-filled dive watches to multi-purpose emergency chronographs and minimalist pilot watches, the brand seems to have it all. To celebrate 25 years of the 356 PILOT collection, the brand has released a stylistic update after letting the collection sit on the back burner for a few years.

The original 356 PILOT is based on the 1996 Japanese market Sinn 256, which took a popular existing pilot’s chronograph and put it in a case with a fixed bezel. For two years, the popularity of the design continued to grow and form a cult following. Sinn finally issued the Sinn 356 PILOT as a standard production model in 1998. The 356 PILOT has remained largely unchanged over the past 25 years, receiving regular updates to movements, complications, colors, and materials, while maintaining its identity.

Advertising Message

The new collection features two standard-production designs and a limited edition, all featuring a bi-compax chronograph design. To my knowledge, this is the first time the brand has taken this cult-favorite pilot chronograph and reduced the amount of information on the dial. For purists, this may be a red flag, but for most, the symmetrical dial will have widespread appeal. Dials are the primary differentiating factor between each variant, with the limited-edition 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary receiving a premium touch. The 356 PILOT Classic W features a modern stark-white dial, and the 356 PILOT Classic AS E gets a beige-to-black- fumé-style dial with tan luminous material for those who want a more vintage aesthetic.

All three watches are cased in submarine stainless steel to improve their resistance to seawater, and all have non-magnetic qualities. The cases retain the dimensions found in the rest of the collection with a diameter of 38.5mm, 45.3mm lug-to-lug, and varying thickness depending on crystal choice. The 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary measures 15mm thick with a sapphire crystal, while the 356 PILOT Classic W and 356 PILOT Classic AS E are fitted with acrylic crystals. In line with the more premium crystal material, the 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary has a satin finish on the case, while the latter two models are matte-finished. All three watches are rated to 100 meters of water resistance and, in tool-watch fashion, resistant to negative pressure.

A short lug-to-lug measurement combined with the mid-size diameter and a notable thickness makes these watches wear fairly tall and top-heavy on the wrist. The crystal and caseback are domed, which helps mitigate some of the thickness, but it is quite noticeable. The winding rotor can also be felt swinging freely if the watch is unbalanced on the wrist, which may be bothersome to some wearers, but I find it to be a charming quirk. When fitted to the H-link style bracelet, the watches feel significantly more balanced.

Advertising Message


The new collection is powered by the self-winding Sellita SW510 BH b chronograph movement. This movement is based on the architecture of the Valjoux 775X, which powered the original 356 PILOT watches. While this movement is a proven reliable automatic chronograph, it is hardly revolutionary and ensures whatever watch it powers will be quite thick.

The 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary features an exhibition caseback that shows off a signed and numbered striped rotor, a mix of pelage and polishing on bridges, and colorful screws, jewels, gears, and escapement. Running at 28,800 VPH the SW510 has a power reserve of right around 60 hours on a full wind.

All three dials are configured in a symmetrical bi-compax layout with running seconds at 9 o’clock and a 30-minute elapsed time subdial at 3 o’clock. Many enthusiasts will be pleased to see that Sinn scaled these subdials and the Arabic numerals around the dial to ensure that no indices are overlapping or being “eaten” by the subdial. This aids in a very legible design that leaves little to be asked for. The Sinn 356 PILOT Classic W has a matte-white dial with glossy snailed black subdials. This deep inky black is found on the hands and dial text. The luminous material is relegated to small block indices around the fully graduated minute track. This provides a high-contrast sterile dial that is incredibly legible even when distorted by the acrylic domed crystal. The 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary and 356 PILOT Classic AS E receive quite a bit more lume, with the Arabic numerals printed in the material. Both models have a polished handset that feels a bit luxurious and increases legibility against the dark matte dials.

As previously mentioned, the 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary received premium treatment with sapphire front and rear crystals and a satin case finishing; the biggest standout for me is the polished applied logo. An applied logo is always the cherry on top when it comes to the dial. It is the little extra splash that draws your eye. In the case of the 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary, it strikes the perfect balance between the anthracite electroplated dark taupe dial and metallic silver subdials.

The 25th anniversary of the 356 PILOT collection comes after a few years of the 356 PILOT taking a back seat, but these new iterations fit well in line with the cult-like following the brand and model have. While the bi-compax update is surely less functional than its complicated siblings, the expansion of the flagship mid-sized chronograph line is welcome. As with many watches from Sinn, the bracelet or strap pictured on the website is not your only option. Pictured here is the brand’s h-link bracelet. It is available in matching finishes for each model and comes equipped with a flip-lock clasp and built-in extension. Additionally, sapphire crystal upgrades are available at a premium. Sinn has always had its end user and the consumer in mind with each product and the new 356 PILOT Classic Collection continues this trend.

The Sinn 356 PILOT Classic W and Sinn 356 PILOT Classic SA E are priced at $2,640 USD on strap and $2,850 USD on bracelet. The Sinn 356 PILOT Classic Anniversary is priced at $3,340 USD and is limited to 500 pieces worldwide. Learn more about Sinn at the brand’s website.

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter