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Sinn U1-D ‘Dune’ Limited Edition Watch Review

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

If you are a fan of Top Gear, you would have probably lost count of the number of times the boys have sung the praises of German engineering. German engineering, they say, is the best kind. For anyone who has driven or sat in an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz, there is some truth to that saying… and I expected to see nothing less while waiting for the Sinn U1-D “Dune” Limited Edition to come in for review. Let’s see how it managed to live up to the expectations.

In the world of horology, the term German engineering or watchmaker has a distinctly different meaning. It means to trod off the beaten path, it means being alternative and different, and it also means being functional yet beautiful. The heart of German watchmaking is arguably in the small town of Glashütte, where most of the German brands are based. However, outside of Glashütte and not so far from the financial heart of Europe (Frankfurt am Main) is Sinn Spezialuhren.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Translated, Spezialuhren means “special watches,” which should give you a rough idea about the kinds of watches Sinn makes. The brand, which was established in 1961 by flight instructor and pilot Helmut Sinn, specializes in making tool watches for professional use. Together with the Faculty of Aerospace Technology at the Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Sinn has even developed a new technical standard called TESTAF for pilot’s watches. And Sinn watches have even gone to space – German physicist and astronaut Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 140 S during the Spacelab D1 mission in 1985.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

As a result, when someone wanted a tool watch for a reasonable amount of money, Sinn tended to be one of those names that were thrown around and one of their most popular models is the U1 dive watch, which we reviewed some time ago. And in the 10 years that the U1 has been around, it has also been the subject of numerous limited edition models – such as this cool one in white. And for 2015, Sinn has collaborated to celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Hour Glass, one of Asia’s leading watch retailers and also Sinn’s exclusive retailer in the South-East Asia region, giving you the watch that you see here, the Sinn U1-D.

The D in the Sinn U1-D’s name stands for Dune, which explains the watch’s color choices. The markings on the bezel as well as parts of the hands and also the text of the watch are rendered in a sandy hue and the case has been given a special black coating to match. The end result is a watch that looks as if it were designed specifically for troops operating in desert environments. In fact, this is the first U1 to be done in a military style. Let’s take a look at each of the watch’s components in greater detail.


Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Sinn U1-D retains the 44mm dimensions of the standard U1, and also the use of special German submarine steel. According to Sinn, German submarine steel is highly resistant to seawater and also stronger, harder, and denser than regular stainless steel. This makes it ideal for diving. Speaking of which, the Sinn U1-D is water resistant to 1000m. Yet despite the high water resistance, it remains relatively thin, at around 14mm.

The Sinn U1-D’s case has also been given a special Black Hard Coating. The coating is expertly applied and gives the case a uniform matte finish. The special coating aside, the case has also been treated with Sinn’s special TEGIMENT process. The TEGIMENT process is not just a mere coating and is in fact a special process that actually hardens the surface of the material. What this means for owners is that the Sinn U1-D is extremely tough and scratch resistant.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Elsewhere, the case back has also been given a matching Black Hard Coating and matte finish, and proudly proclaims in German that the case material is German submarine steel and that it is resistant to saltwater. The crown too has the same Black Hard Coating and matte finish. The uniform finish on all components of the case translates to a very utilitarian look and feel for the watch.

Like the case, the unidirectional bezel has also been given the special Black Hard Coating and treated with the TEGIMENT process. And it’s worth noting at this point that I haven’t had any problems with scratches in the time that I have had the watch. The bezel also features a safety mechanism that prevents it from being knocked out off the watch, which could potentially be dangerous in diving situations. Additionally, the bezel clicks into sixty positions and the action is firm and reassuring, with no play whatsoever once the bezel moves into place.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

As mentioned earlier, the bezel features minute markings in a sandy hue, which gives it a military look that is unlike any other dive watch from a premium watch brand that I can think of today. Only the large 60 minute marker features lume, and it’s pretty bright too.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Like the standard U1, the Sinn U1-D has a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides. To match the blackened case, the dial is a shade of light grey (almost the color of concrete) with charcoaled indices, and text is printed in the same sandy brown hue as the markings on the bezel. The dial has a matte finish to it and doesn’t play much with the light, but under bright sunlight, it does change its tone a little and looks like its been bead-blasted. Finally, the hands are a mixture of sand brown and charcoal. The end result is a face that is similar in design to the standard U1, but distinctive enough to stand on its own.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The regular U1 is a standard bearer for what an ultra legible dial should be, but the Sinn U1-D is no slouch either, even if legibility is slightly hampered by the fact that the charcoal indices and hands are quite close in color to the light grey dial. Even so, I never found it too difficult to tell the time. I also especially like the large lollipop-style seconds hand, as one quick glimpse is enough to tell you if the watch is still running.

My only gripe about the Sinn U1-D is its weak lume. Because of the use of dark charcoal colored lume, luminescence in the dark is impacted even if the indices and lume plots are large. It takes a lot of light to get going, and even after being charged under the sun for minutes, the lume diminishes very quickly. Night legibility is definitely not one of the Sinn U1-D’s strong suits.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Under the dial beats a Sellita SW200-1 movement which – other than being one of today’s few truly reliable workhorse movements – is nothing much to write home about. For the uninitiated, the Sellita SW200-1 is a copy of the ETA 2824, and is widely used by companies now that ETA is cutting back on sales of its movements to companies outside of the Swatch Group. Sinn was one of those companies affected as it used to equip its U1 watches with the ETA 2824 caliber. In any case, the SW200-1 caliber beats at 4Hz and can be wound by hand and it also hacks – everything you would expect from a modern movement. Unfortunately, the Sinn U1-D is not chronometer certified, but it kept decent time in my experience. In my case, I found that it was fast by about 8 seconds per day; not fantastic, but not terrible by any stretch of the imagination either.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Despite the 44mm case size, the Sinn U1-D wears a little small to me and feels more like a 42mm watch. This is partly due to the compact and curved lugs, which create the impression of a smaller watch. And because it is just 14mm thick, it is large but not overly so. In fact, 14mm for a diver rated for 1000 meters of water resistance is pretty impressive. The Rolex Submariner is rated to 300 meters and it’s about 13mm thick. Overall, I found the Sinn U1-D is a comfortable fit for my 6.5-inch wrist.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Because of the design and color of the Sinn U1-D, it is best suited as a serious tool watch or casual watch for after work hours or the weekend. Its certainly not as versatile as the standard U1, which could be dressed up with a bracelet or dark leather strap. And I think Sinn fully recognizes this as it provides the U1-D with an additional two military-inspired camouflage-style Zulu straps in sand and army green.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Sinn U1-D also comes with a calf leather strap, which is the strap that you see in the photos here. The strap has a nice warm tan look and texture and is soft and comfortable on the wrist. What’s more, it even comes with a matching black buckle. My only complaint is that the edges of the strap are painted, because having raw-finished edges would have complemented the Sinn U1-D much better. Fortunately, the Sinn U1-D uses spring bars and has lug holes, so changing straps should be a cinch.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

All in all, the Sinn U1-D is just a really solidly built watch and there’s a lot to like about it. From a pure technical standpoint, the Sinn U1-D is built like a bomb. The use of German submarine steel coupled with the Black Hard Coating and Sinn’s own TEGIMENT process means the case is as tough as nails. The movement, though nothing fancy, kept decent time in my experience and is a tried-and-tested movement that runs well and is easy to service. The fact, that it is also easy and comfortable to wear is just the icing on the cake. Like the standard U1, the Sinn U1-D is the perfect example of a hardy tool watch.

But, like I mentioned earlier, the Sinn U1-D “Dune” is not exactly the kind of watch that you can take from the beach to the boardroom. Its colors and overall design means it’s best suited as a casual watch, or if your workplace does not enforce a strict dress code. Versatility is not one of its strong points. What’s also not one of its strong points is its rather weak lume – an issue that, to this day, remains unsolved when it comes to luminescent materials that are of darker colors.

Sinn U1-D 'Dune' Limited Edition Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Nevertheless, I think the Sinn U1-D deserves credit for its coherent overall design. So often have I seen limited edition watches miss the mark by having design cues that do not meld well, that the phrase “limited edition” has, to me at least, become almost a warning for “watch out, dubious design ahead.” Fortunately, the Sinn U1-D is not one of those watches. The desert military inspired design has been integrated nicely and everything else from the dial to the case and the straps and buckles all complement and fit each other to a T.

The standard Sinn U1 is quite a common sight, but since the Sinn U1-D is limited to just 350 pieces, exclusivity is pretty much assured. The Sinn U1-D is priced at S$4800 or at around US$3570, depending on the exchange rate.

Necessary Data

>Brand: Sinn
>Model: U1-D “Dune”
>Price: S$4800 (US$3572)
>Size: 44mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone looking for a tough watch with a military design.
>Best characteristic of watch: Tough watch case and coherent design.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Poor lume for a diving watch.



Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991173778

  • SantiagoT

    Very nice watch, thanks for the article Kenny.

    The price, however, is a sin. A sin! Ha! OMFG I kill myself!

  • The price is pretty wild and the lume (as implemented) on the hands is just a bad idea. Generally a nice, no nonsense Sinn. Lots of nice materials details but the price and hand choices make it a miss for me.

  • IanE

    Looks pretty pricey for a U1, even a fully tegimented one. The standard U1 is a truly handsome brute (as is the white limited edition), but this doesn’t fire me up at all, even if it had been more sensibly priced.  A shame – I hope Sinn is not trying to join the ranks of horribly over-priced status watches!

  • DG Cayse

    Nice watch. SINN does some righteous stuff to their watches. Good Rep.
    Having said that – Whose skinny hairy wrist is that?
    I am a hairy guy, so no offense. I live in a part of the world where “hairy ” is odd.
    Those pics are “Odd.”
    It’s the little things.
    I like the watch.
    Whoever suggested those straps should be horse-whipped with them.

  • Frauss

    I’d say, beef up a little and borrow Ariel’s clippers or stick to reviewing 36mm watches.

  • iamcalledryan

    Ok everybody, stop talking about arm hair and thickness! I never used to have a problem with it and you are starting to make me think there is! Must. Not. Buy. Clippers.
    Anyway, that’s a very cool, slightly out there, U1. I really like those Frankfurters, and put a crown at 4 o’clock and you can rarely fail.

  • Here is an idea (using more or less their theme) of how they could have done the lume.

  • I rather like how the tips of the hands are reflected in the shape of the indices – as well as how the minute hand (when on a five-minute mark) gives the appearance of a solid bar to the edge of the case.  Well done details, those!

  • Tomasina Covell

    Let Shai-Hulud decide!

  • iamcalledryan

    MarkCarson better…

  • JPonce

    Nice article! I agree U1 is the best 44mm watch for skinny wrists. I have 6.75 inches wrist and it fits nicely with great wrist presence. I am a big fan of Sinn but change of color way does not justify the steep price hike. I feel that nowadays Sinn has been playing this “limited edition color ways” trick a little too much. This deviates its tool watch perception. Damasko, although less prestigious, might be a better bang for the buck option for one looking for nice German tool watches.

  • DanW94

    Pedestrian movement,  a somewhat unique but lackluster design, and I don’t really like the nylon straps. The tougher than the man of steel case is cool but doesn’t quite justify the price.

  • Wow, I can’t believe Sinn thinks this is $3500+ worth of watch! Was not expecting that!
    Interesting texture on the ‘charcoaled’ indexes. Like they were cut from an old tshirt.

  • IanE

    Patrick Kansa Yes, but of course those details all come from the base U1.

  • spiceballs

    MarkCarson  yes better, but please not that second hand box. .

  • spiceballs

    SantiagoT  OMG  – – – :-)?

  • spiceballs MarkCarson Yeah, I don’t like it either but I was trying to keep the elements in the same form but just paint ’em up differently.

  • DG Cayse

    MarkCarson Well done!….(golf clap)

  • I_G

    ken2pp 12 year old and hairy like this? must be a chimp.

  • Ulysses31

    Ugly straps, cheap-looking dial.  It’s not worth what they’re asking.  The leather strap, if coloured to match the cream elements of the watch, might have looked a bit better.  Isn’t it weird when manufacturers seem to have no sense of colour coordination?

  • OnPointFirearms

    iamcalledryan That’s not an arm.

  • somethingnottaken

    MarkCarson looks better, and the “old radium” lume is more effective than black lume too.

  • egznyc

    About that last remark … Not if one is just a desk diver 😉

  • egznyc

    Must be true, but the black (dark gray?) lume is pretty cool.

  • Apalachicola

    I like the straps, not the face.

  • egznyc

    Cool look, actually. Not usually my style but I rather like the colors and shapes here – though I agree it’s overpriced. It’s also the hands with their dark lume: I’ve always wanted a watch like that. It’s the novelty of it, I’m sure. And how does something ordinarily dark become bright – a transformation. So with the complaint about the quality of the lume, why no shot of it in action?

  • Jimxxx

    Sinn Bathyscaphe? At a fraction of the price of the Blancpain.

  • Henry Collantes

    Great read… but It’s all about the U1B!!!

  • Will_F

    At that price point I expect more. Top or COSC movement as a minimum, probably a bracelet too

  • AndrewBistak

    I was a little disappointed when there was no mention of the ‘spice’ that this colorway is trying to add to the U1 line-up.