At Baselworld 2019 German Sinn announced two new models under the 206 family – which are in Sinn’s own fashion re-releases of two classic and highly-beloved tool timepieces from the 1990s. The two new 206 family watches are similar but different enough that I will be covering them each separately. They are this Sinn 206 Ar with the black dial, and the similar Sinn 206 Arktis II (debuted on aBlogtoWatch here).
Outside of calling the Sinn 206 Ar an “all-purpose tool watch,” it is challenging to define this particular timepiece since it is intended to do so much, so well. Sinn technically categorizes the 206 as a diver’s watch — and that it certainly is (but really not only that). As a diver’s watch it does some impressive things. In addition to having the full complement of excellent darkness visibility and a uni-directional rotating timing bezel, the case is water resistant to 300 meters. One addition feature as a diver’s watch that Sinn engineering into the 206 is actually quite uncommon — the chronograph pushers are designed to be used underwater. This is one upgrade over the historic 203 model.
That latter complication probably isn’t wise at 300 meters… but given that most diving is 100 meters or less, this is one of the rare diver’s chronograph watches on which you can actually start, stop, and reset the chronograph underwater. This is not wise or possible to do on the vast majority of diver’s style chronograph timepieces out there, and here it is part of Sinn’s D3 case security system.
Speaking of water… one of the key features that further sets this tool watch apart from the competition is the “Ar” part of the name, which now tends to mean a suite of technologies designed to keep water out of the movement and dial areas inside the watch case. “Ar” once stood for argon gas, which Sinn used to fill some previous watches of this type. Since then, Sinn has moved on to using other inert gasses, and “Ar” watches also focus on two different types of technology.
The inert gas in the case is designed to prevent any fogging from occurring, which is a real issue that happens when trapped moisture heats up and then forms condensation under the crystal. This not only obscures the wearer’s ability to read the dial, but moisture in the watch case can wreak untold havoc on a movement — especially if not dried out immediately.
The Sinn 206 Ar case also features special EDR (extreme diffusion-reducing) seals by the name of nitrile rubber that is supposed to be far superior to standard seals and case gaskets. Finally, this Sinn 206 and some other Sinn watches features the Sinn drying capsule — which is what the German company refers to as the “most important of the Ar-Dehumidifying Technology” suites of features. These replaceable capsules (if they absorb a certain amount of moisture they change colors and can be relatively easily replaced) are filled with copper sulfate and literally soak up any moisture that gets into the case. You can see the Sinn drying capsule on the dial of the case.
The point is that Sinn is one of the most serious makers of “professional” tool watches out there – and these features would never be found on mere “lifestyle sports watches.” Certainly you can go around and wear this pretty timepiece in a dry setting for its entire life, but should you need a seriously high-performing tool watch – the Sinn 206 Ar has you more than covered.
Sinn uses a 43mm-wide polished steel case (stamped “SUG” between the lugs which is Sinn’s traditional casemaker in Germany) for the 206, which is 2mm wider than the historic Sinn 203 watch it is meant to evoke. The case is also 17mm-thick with a roughly 49mm lug-to-lug distance. Over the dial is domed sapphire crystal, with Sinn’s almost legendary volume of AR-coating which is so well done because they use so many layers.
Around the dial is the elegant-to-operate rotating bezel which is in steel with etched markers and lume painted at the 60-minute mark. Indeed, steel will scratch and wear more than, say, a ceramic bezel, but the steel on steel look of the bezel and case is both fashionable and helps this particular watch design stick out. I’m not saying that a ceramic bezel wouldn’t be nice — but I am saying that the steel bezel is very handsome and helps complete this timepiece’s classic look, which is now well over 20-years-old.
Entirely devoid of unnecessary elements, the Sinn 206 face is a true tool watch dial by design. The only decorative feature is the slightly glossy face and recessed subdials that are in a deep anthracite almost looking black. Though most people would probably just call it black. Those looking for a bit more pizazz can opt of the Sinn 206 Arktis II dial which is a beautiful “arctic ice” blue dial.
The 206 Ar dial itself is very legible but also no-nonsense in its approach. It begins with the core concept that a legible watch dial must have a healthy volume of contrast. This, the hour markers, and hands are in white luminant, and the rest of the dial is darker. Then, you have the nice combination of proper dial proportions, mostly Arabic hour numerals, and a lack of distracting elements on the dial. I’m not sure I would consider this a traditional dive-style dial, but it certainly feels like a military-style dial in pure Germanic tradition.
Inside the 43mm-wide case and visible through the sapphire crystal caseback window is a Swiss Made ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement (4Hz with about two days of power reserve). It features the time, a 12-hour chronograph, and a day/date window. The date disc can be ordered both in German or English. Sinn doesn’t just throw in a stock 7750 and call it a day. They appear to be using a highly decorated top grade 7750 and we know that Sinn personally regulates the movements to peak performance in-house. I also like that despite the display caseback, the watch is still anti-magnetic according to DIN 8309 standards. In fact, if you visit the Sinn website you’ll the many DIN standards that the 206 complies with.
I’ve worn the Sinn 206 Ar on trips, around town, and just for casual wear. It seems to fit in where ever you take it. Strap options are just as varied with most people likely opting for the Sinn rubber strap with matching deployant, the matching steel bracelet, or this “vintage-style” leather strap. Now I have to say that this “trendy-looking” strap with its unsealed edges and contrast-color stitching wasn’t to my liking, visually, when I first saw it. I immediately thought to myself that I’d prefer another Sinn strap. After wearing it for a while, my tune has changed a bit. While the style of this strap is open to debate, it is thick, easy to bend (which means it doesn’t wear stiffly), and overall really comfortable. While the 22mm-wide leather strap design is on the trendier side, it very much performs like any Sinn should.
Between the Sinn 206 Ar and Arktis II, the choice is ultimately about taste, as you can’t go wrong with either. Sinn continues to make some of the best tool watches in the world with fair pricing, and excellent day-to-day user experience in comfort, style, performance, and sheer utility. Sinn ticks off so many boxes that it is easy to wholesale-recommend this watch to whoever finds it compelling. I’d say the only downside is that Sinn produces so many watches of similar utility and value, that I can see consumers being a bit confused when trying to decided between various Sinn watches. So for 2019 that choice just got a bit more difficult thanks to these really impressive Sinn 206 Ar watches that are now available. More so, it is the successor to the 203 that everyone was waiting for. Price in the United States (regional prices may vary) for the Sinn 206 Ar reference 206.010 on this leather strap is $3,270 USD. Learn more at the Sinn website here.
>Model: 206 Ar (reference 206.010)
>Price: $3,270 USD as configured in the United States
>Size: 43mm-wide, 17mm-thick, and about 49mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: It is truly a capable daily wear. On the bracelet, it can make for a handsome dressier watch, and on the rubber strap, it is very sporty. On this leather strap, it has a casual city vibe and is very comfortable for most any occasion.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone who loves the idea of a super well-made, super practical tool watch that also isn’t afraid to dress up nicely.
>Best characteristic of watch: Sinn did an excellent job of bringing back the iconic 203 in this 206 form for modern audiences. Small but appreciated upgrades help it feel as something better than a retro-redo watch. Overall build quality, components, and design leave little to be desired.
>Worst characteristic of watch: It is very challenging finding fault with such a successful formula. I suppose if you don’t like the design, then that would be a fault. For what it is, Sinn has covered most of its bases with a fairly priced and well-made tool watch that is about as nice as you can go without entering “lifestyle luxury watch” territory.