It’s clean and legible, it’s big and chunky, it’s “tegimented.” It’s German Sinn‘s latest characteristically no-nonsense “Instrument Chronograph” watch called the Sinn 936 Chronograph, and it features the brand’s pragmatic take on the 7750 chronograph movement. Though perhaps more somber in its appearance than many Sinn watches, the brand’s thoroughly utilitarian-first sensibility is present as ever.

All hands-on images by Bilal Khan

Emphasizing practical, unfussy watches that reflect those traits with masculine designs, many of Sinn’s “instrument” and “diving” watches (the majority of their offerings) are popular as much for their promised ruggedness as their technical looks. The Sinn 936 Chronograph is comparatively pared back and simple-looking for a level of legibility often associated with the pilot watch genre – even more so than many of Sinn’s other watches that actually have “Pilot” in the name. You could call it a pilot watch, and indeed people have, even though Sinn doesn’t.

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Sinn 836 (left) & Sinn 936 Chronograph

The Sinn 936 Chronograph was introduced at Baselworld 2018 alongside the Sinn 836 which basically shows you what the 936 would look like without those chronograph pushers and subdials. Both are 43mm wide, but as is typical for watches with the venerable Swiss ETA/Valjoux 7750 movement inside, the Sinn 936 Chronograph is more thickset at 15mm, and water resistance of 100m promises appropriate durability.

Let’s get right into what Sinn has done to the 7750 movement to warrant renaming it the Calibre SZ-05 – it is worth noting that Sinn is straightforward about naming the base movement. As you know, the ETA/Valjoux 7750 is easily the most common automatic chronograph movement out there, and it’s found in a diverse range of watches from different brands. In its most common form, the 6-9-12 sub-dials (perhaps cutting into indices) and maybe a date window at 3 o’clock or 4:30 make many watches immediately identifiable as 7750-based iterations. There’s often a day-of-the-week display in there as well. A fine illustration can be found in the Sinn 103 Sa B E Pilot Chronograph (hands-on here), for example. But the movement has also been modified in a number of ways making it less recognizable.

Most typically for 7750-based watches, the sub-dial at 12 o’clock counts the chronograph minutes up to 30, and the 6 o’clock sub-dial counts up to 12 hours. For the SZ-05 in the Sinn 936 Chronograph, this has all been cleaned up significantly. Here, the chronograph minutes are displayed at 3 o’clock for a symmetrical, bicompax look with the main time’s running seconds at 9 o’clock. It’s not the first time for the 7750 to power a “bicompax” dial, of course, but Sinn also made the chronograph minutes display up to 60 minutes. This is practical and user-friendly, and that is what Sinn is known for. The chronograph hours’ functionality is sacrificed for the sake of legibility and tidiness.

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Sinn has conformed to the watchmaking tradition of coloring the chronograph seconds and minutes hands red to distinguish them from the time-telling hands. In this way and others, the Sinn 936 Chronograph is another example of how functionality and practicality drive design at the brand. More evidence is in every detail, such as the lumed hands (hours and minutes only) and legibility against the matte black dial or the hands’ brushed finish. I will say it again: shiny hands might look pretty but they so often kill legibility (especially on dark dials) – and in my opinion, legibility is utterly basic to a good watch of any kind. For aesthetic reasons, many collectors may prefer no date display but, again, it is still a useful function, and here it is integrated in a harmonious way both in terms of balance and color.

The all-brushed steel case of the Sinn 936 Chronograph is newly designed for the brand with no crown protectors for a somewhat more classic look, and it features a couple of Sinn’s proprietary technologies. First, there is Sinn’s scratch-resistant “TEGIMENT Technology.” We’ve had a chance to discuss this a number of times before but – just quickly – it is not an applied coating but rather a process which hardens the material’s surface. Sinn claims it results in significant scratch-resistance – I am noticing in these pictures, however, what appear to be some scratches on the bezel (could be smudges and/or dust). It’s definitely cool-sounding science, but I think I need to test it myself – and if any watches would look appropriate all scratched up anyway, a Sinn would.

The brand’s “D3-System” means that the crown (screw-down) and chronograph pushers are mounted directly into the case with very precise tolerances and without the usual tube seal, and this is supposed to provide greater resistance to water and dust as well as long-term durability. A solid caseback likely also helps water-resistance as well as Magnetic Field Protection up to 80,000 A/m. Anti-reflective coating on both sides of the sapphire crystal further supports legibility and is something Sinn is known to do well.

But how does it wear? Pretty much like you would expect a steel watch of its dimensions (mentioned above) to wear. The Sinn 936 Chronograph is no dainty thing, that’s for sure, but with relatively short lugs it is probably still wearable for a good range of wrist sizes. A thin bezel provides plenty of space for the dial to stretch out, creating even more presence on the wrist. Sinn offers a wide strap selection (22mm lug-width), but I have always particularly liked the style of bracelet shown here that is similar to those found on other Sinn watches. The watch head with no strap weighs 111g and will be significantly heavier with the steel bracelet, but sometimes you want to feel that weight on the wrist.

Whew! I got through this entire Sinn article without using the term “tool wa…” Ooh, almost did it. That was a close one. For the tastes of this particular writer, the Sinn 936 Chronograph offers a lot of what I admire about the brand, but its plain and familiar looks don’t excite me as much as some of their more unique and aggressive-looking watches. The stout thickness dictated by the good-old 7750, I suppose, is inevitable but still a drawback for me. Don’t forget to consider Sinn’s modifications and added technical features when comparing the Sinn 936 Chronograph’s retail price of $3,240 USD to other watches in its genre.

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