Sinn is known for making dependable, well-built tool watches usually at an affordable price point. The latest watch in the 103 chronograph line, the Sinn 103 St Sa E is no exception. With a chronograph, bi-directional countdown bezel, day-date indicator, and crown-guards, this is a watch built to be a functional and trustworthy daily wearer in the group I’d call ‘vintage-inspired pilot chronographs.’ The 103 has been a staple of Sinn’s product lineup for years now – in one form or the other. This latest variant embraces its vintage roots with the use of faux-patina lume on the markers and hands.

All images by Ariel Adams & James Stacey

Collectors familiar with chronograph movements will recognize that the Sinn 103 is powered by the Valjoux 7750. The biggest giveaway is of course, the dial, which has the three-dial layout with sub-dials at 12:00, 6:00, and 9:00. Of all the modern chronograph movements still in production, I believe the Valjoux 7750 is the only one with this specific sub-dial layout. This is an appropriate movement for a tool watch as it is automatic, time-tested, reliable, and familiar to watchmakers and hence, easy to maintain and service. The Valjoux 7750 in the Sinn 103 is shock-resistant, has anti-magnetic shielding, and provides 42 hours of power reserve.

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With case dimensions of 41mm wide and 17mm thick, there’s no escaping that the Sinn 103 is a chunky watch. Though, considering the use of a display caseback in a 200m water resistant case along with the domed sapphire crystal on the dial, it shouldn’t be too surprising. Still, this watch is considerably thicker than many mechanical chronographs and you’d find tucking it under a sleeve pretty tough. Moving on, the case is machined from stainless steel and is polished all over. I believe the bezel is made from steel as well and some collectors may find this disappointing as more advanced materials like ceramic would’ve provided better longevity.

The crown and pushers are both screw down and large enough to be easy to use and not too fiddly. Despite its large size, the Sinn wears comfortably on the wrist. I don’t see it fitting in quite well with formal office wear but with jeans and a t-shirt or if you happen to have a non-desk diving job, the Sinn 103 should fit right in and not be too conspicuous. The watch is available on a rubber or leather strap, or Sinn’s solidly built H-link bracelet. While I am personally a fan of Sinn’s fine link bracelet, I think the H-link version is better suited here given the larger case size.

As a pilot’s watch, the dial on the Sinn 103 St Sa E is matte black with contrasting text and indices to maximize legibility. The hour markers are Arabic and painted on the dial with the faux-patina lume that is a signature to this variant. The syringe hands are also filled with the same lume and takes the vintage feel of the entire watch up a notch. The faux patina maintains the high contrast with the dial required for the legibility that pilot watches are known for.

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The sub-dial at 12:00 indicates chronograph minutes, the one at 6:00 the chronograph hours, and the one at 9:00 is for continuous seconds. At 3:00, we have the day-date indicator, which thankfully is black with white text on it. This preserves legibility while helping it blend in well with the dial. A white with black text version would look bad, to put it plainly. The date wheel in the watch we got our hands on was in German, which is quite common for Sinn. However, I do believe English date wheels are available, particularly if purchased through their American distributor, WatchBuys.

I think the use of faux-patina lume may be a bit too much for some collectors – though I personally dig it. If you do happen to be in the camp that would prefer it without, worry not, for Sinn has other variants of the Sinn 103. Quibbling over lume color aside, it’s hard to argue that this is a fine tool watch indeed. The only two missing Sinn technologies are the tegimented steel and argon humidity indicator for the water-proofing system, but those would add further cost to production, not to mention the tegimented steel’s dark grey will not suit this watch well.

To top it all off, The Sinn 103 St Sa E is manufactured in a limited run of 300 pieces, a number that I think really is exclusive unlike some of the 4-figure production runs we’ve seen this year. The Sinn 103 St Sa E ships on leather for $2,250 and on the H-link bracelet for $2,560. If you would prefer one of the Sinn 103s without the faux vintage lume, the non-limited versions start from $1,880 – a good value proposition for a German tool watch that’s built like a tank.

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