The 103 pilot's chronograph from Sinn has enjoyed many years of success. It's especially robust and meets the strict DIN criteria for pilot's watch certification. Its functional design also complements any business or casual outfit.
The 103 pilot's chronograph from the Frankfurt-based German watch manufacturer Sinn Spezialuhren is one of the brand's most famous and bestselling watches. The 103 first appeared in the late 1960s and has changed very little since. It has always been the perfect combination of all the things that make Sinn watches so special: functionality, optimal readability, and robustness.
Current models are resistant to low pressure environments, protected against shocks and jolts, anti-magnetic, and water resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft). Not even extreme heat or cold will put this watch out of commission, as it functions perfectly in temperatures between -49°F and +176°F (-45°C and +80°C) . Some models feature additional technology developed by Sinn, such as Ar-Dehumidifying Technology or their oil-free DIAPAL escapement system. These innovations only improve upon the already excellent reliability of Sinn watches. In fact, the 103 Ti IFR was the world's first watch to be certified as a pilot's watch according to the DIN 8330 standard. "DIN" stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization). This institute sets standards for nearly every industry in Germany and is also a member of the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.
The Sinn 103 is a classic chronograph with three subdials for the hour counter, minute counter, and small seconds. The automatic Valjoux caliber 7750 powers this timepiece and lends it its date display. White hour markers, numerals, and hands contrast beautifully against the dark dial and glow in the dark thanks to a generous coating of luminous material. Yet another professional feature of this timepiece is its bidirectional pilot's bezel. It is permanently attached to the case and has a precise minute scale with a luminous main marker.
You can choose from models with a polished stainless steel or bead-blasted titanium case. Titanium is lighter than stainless steel and has the added benefit of being hypoallergenic. A leather strap or bracelet made of steel or titanium keeps this watch securely on the wrist.
|103 Ti DIAPAL||3,500 USD||Titanium||DIAPAL escapement, second time zone, date|
|103 St DIAPAL||3,400 USD||Stainless steel||DIAPAL escapement, second time zone, date|
|103 Ti IFR||2,700 USD||Titanium||DIN 8330 certified, date|
|103 St Sa||2,200 USD||Stainless steel||Sapphire glass, date, day|
|103 St||1,800 USD||Stainless steel||Acrylic glass, date, day|
The 103 St is this series' entry-level model. You can purchase this timepiece for as little as 1,800 USD new and 1,200 USD pre-owned. At that price, you'll get a 41-mm stainless steel watch that shares its screw-down steel case back and domed acrylic glass with the original model from the 60s. The matte black dial has the typical Valjoux layout: a 12-hour counter at 6, a small seconds at 9, and a 30-minute counter at 12 o'clock. There's also a day-date display at 3 o'clock. A black aluminum rotating bezel completes this watch.
If you like the 103, but prefer sapphire glass, the 103 St Sa is the right watch for you. In terms of appearance, it is nearly identical to its sister model. The watches share everything from their dial design to their syringe-like hands. However, these watches are still easy to tell apart: The standard 103 St Sa has a sapphire glass case back and screw-down chronograph pushers. Set aside 2,200 USD for a mint-condition timepiece or 1,900 USD for a pre-owned one.
Sinn stayed true to the same basic design for the 103 St DIAPAL and 103 Ti DIAPAL ; however, they have equipped these models with a few extra functions. The most obvious is the additional hour hand for displaying the time in a second time zone. Since this hand is skeletonized and doesn't glow in the dark, you'll never mix up the times.
In addition to a GMT function, Sinn has outfitted these watches with two of their in-house technologies. First, there's the Ar-Dehumidifying Technology, which keeps moisture in the air from reaching the movement, where it could condense and destroy the lubricants. The other is Sinn's DIAPAL escapement. Since it doesn't require any lubricant, this escapement is better at maintaining accuracy over long periods of time.
Technically speaking, the two DIAPAL models are identical. The only difference is the case material: The 103 St DIAPAL is made of stainless steel, the 103 Ti DIAPAL of titanium. This has very little effect on the price. While the steel version costs about 3,400 USD new, its titanium counterpart sells for just over 3,500 USD. Prices for a pre-owned example of either model start around 2,400 USD.
The 103 Ti IFR and 102 Ti UTC IFR are among the world's first watches to be certified according to the DIN 8330 standard. These watches are fit for instrument flight, meaning they can completely replace an aircraft's onboard clock should it stop working. Sinn altered the design of the 103 greatly so it would meet all the criteria set out by the DIN. The syringe-like hands are now bar-shaped and filled with luminous material, and the 12-hour counter at 6 o'clock has been removed in the name of greater clarity. However, you'll still find a date at 3, a small seconds at 9, and a 30-minute counter at 12 o'clock. The 30-minute counter, indices, and the numeral at 6 have also all received a generous coating of luminous material.
Technically speaking, both watches greatly resemble the other models in the 103 series. They are powered by the Valjoux 7750, are shock-resistant, anti-magnetic, resistant to low pressure, water resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft), and feature Sinn's Ar-Dehumidifying Technology. Both have cases made of pure titanium and a captive, bidirectional pilot's bezel. The only difference is that the 103 Ti UTC IFR is able to display a second time zone.
Plan to spend around 2,700 USD for a never-worn 103 Ti IFR. Pre-owned pieces sell for about 2,100 USD. On the other hand, a mint-condition 103 Ti UTC IFR with a second time zone costs around 3,200 USD; it is rare to find pre-owned pieces.
Vintage Sinn 103s are coveted collector's items, especially those from the 1960s and 70s. These watches are easy to identify by the layout of their subdials. Since they also rely on Valjoux 72 or 726 movements, the subdials are located at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Another defining feature is their lack of a date display. Depending on the timepiece's age and condition, it can cost anywhere from 1,900 to 7,400 USD.
The Sinn 103 B Sa HD Moonphase from the mid-1990s is also popular. The manual Valjoux 7768 or automatic Valjoux 7758 powers each timepiece. Both movements feature a chronograph function with a central stopwatch second hand and a 30-minute counter at 12, as well as a date display at 3 and small seconds dial at 9 o'clock. There's also a moon phase indicator at 6 o'clock. Sinn only ever produced a few hundred copies of these timepieces, making them extremely rare today. Prices for these watches sit around 3,300 USD.
If you prefer more colorful timepieces, the 103 Sa B E might be the watch for you. While its technology is identical to that of the 103 St, it features a blue sunburst dial, blue bezel, and sapphire glass. What's more, the ivory color of the luminous material on the indices, numerals, and hands lends this timepiece a nice retro touch. You can purchase this watch for around 3,100 USD pre-owned and 3,600 USD new.
In recent years, there have been regular releases of limited edition 103 watches. One of the latest models debuted in late 2018. The stainless steel 103 St C has a retro design reminiscent of the popular Sinn 102 from the 70s. Its dial is black, and there are two silver-plated subdials at 3 and 9 o'clock. Unlike the original, the 103 St C is powered by an automatic movement, namely the Sellita SW 510 BH b. You can call this beautiful timepiece your own for around 2,300 USD.
You'll need about 1,100 USD more to purchase the limited edition 103 Ti Ar Die Zeit. This titanium watch has the same dial as the standard model, but features the hands of IFR models, giving it a modern feel that is only further underscored by its red stop seconds, minute, and hour hands.