Let he without Sinn wear this watch. Sorry, I’m a punny guy. (Just ask @oldwatchlady.) I promise to restrain myself while reviewing the Sinn 104 – a German pilot’s watch whose owners tell me its Sinnsational. An original Sinn. Let’s start where I normally finish: price . . .
My condescending colleagues call the Sinn 104 a “value proposition.” They’re not wrong. watchbuys.com will ship a Sinn 104 on an H-link steel bracelet from Germany to your door for $1,560. Considering the sticker for [what I consider to be] comparable watches – the $3700 Tudor Black Bays and $4k Breitling Superoceans of the world – the 104 is more of a steal than a deal.
The 104 mixes it up with higher-priced watches by dint of its august good looks and rock solid durability. Perched on its steel bracelet, the Sinn 104 is what a Rolex used to be: a subtle signifier of casual sophistication.
While Sinn hasn’t strapped the 104 to a bobsleigh runner à la Victorinox I.N.O.X., the German watchmaker earned a solid rep for rugged reliability by selling watches made out of submarine and TEGIMENTED steel. The 104 isn’t that, but Sinn clearly built the 104 to brand-faithful brick shit house standards.
For one thing, the Sinn 104 is a bit of beast. At 5.9 ounces, the 104’s got all the heft tool watch buyers used to cherish – before the Porsche Design titanium chronograph convinced Swiss watchmakers to lighten-up. You always know the 104’s there – in a good way.
For another, the 104’s rotating bezel shows a clear commitment to indefatigability. It’s screwed on, rather than friction-fitted. This setup stops the bezel from being snapped off. If the bezel’s bent, chipped or dented, it can be removed and replaced. It’s saying go on, abuse me. I’ll be back.
That would be a shame. Snapping off the bezel I mean.
The Sinn 104 has a distinctive, distinguished demeanor. Its dial answers the question “what do you get when you mix a pilot’s watch with a dive watch while shooting for a vintage vibe that looks modern and sleek?”
How do you say “it sounds crazy, but it just might work” in German? (Es klingt verrückt, aber es könnte funktionieren.)
As the Sinn 556i proved, the Frankfurt watchmaker is a master of the dark arts. The 104’s anthracite dial isn’t as black-hole-black as the 556i’s, but the 104’s white indices, syringe-style hands and date window frame are a lot whiter.
The result is handsome in a bold yet understated way [sic]. Riding on ball bearings, the bezel’s silver numerals add a welcome touch of glimmer glamor.
The 104’s polished steel case is a dress shirt-compatible 11.5mm thick, flanked by nominal crown guards. No doubt the guards were kept on the down-low to avoid dinging the impression that the Sinn 104 doesn’t have a case.
At least not viewed from the top. From that angle, all you see is the dial and the top of the bracelet, which makes the watch appear smaller than 41mm (7″ wrist in pics).
Fooled ya! The Sinn 104’s integrated H-link bracelet isn’t integrated; the last satin-polished “missing link” is actually part of the case.
As the bracelet isn’t fully tapered where it meets the case, the design draws attention to the high-polish architectural lugs. It’s not perfectly executed – that faux link bulges a bit in the wrong place (who doesn’t?) – but it is perfectly comfortable.
Quality-wise, the Sinn 104’s bracelet punches above its weight. I’ve cautioned cash constrained buyers to avoid watches at around the $1k mark on steel bracelets; they’re usually nasty. It’s amazing what five hundred extra dollars buys you.
The 104’s bracelet falls below the OMEGA standard for silken sexiness, but only just. I’m no fan of the 104’s stamped steel clasp cover, especially as prising open the safety is a worrying test of fingernail strength.
According to the website, the Sinn 104’s powered by an “automatic mechanical” movement. That’s Sinn’s way of saying “pay no attention to the Sellita SW220-1 behind that curtain.”
I’m not sure why. The top grade Sellita is a tough, reliable, serviceable engine. Besides, Sinn puts it on display, complete with a branded gold rotor with Geneva stripes (no less).
The movement’s not COSC-certified, but the Timegrapher puts it within the Swiss accuracy standard. The 28,800 A/h amplitude ensures that the second hand sweeps through space with grace.
The Sinn 104’s day right-sized screw-down crown offers a choice of English or German day designation. The quick set date doesn’t interfere with the hacking seconds function, and the white frame around the white day/date complication is a solid legibility win.
Pilots flying in unpressurized cabins will be pleased to note that the Sinn 104’s engine remains operational at low atmospheric pressures, and up to 20 bar. Divers will appreciate the 104’s DIN 8310 (German for ISO 2281) water resistance, while electronic engineers will appreciate its anti-magnetic adherence to DIN 8309 (German for ISO 764).
Sensible land lubbers will be more impressed with the Sinn 104’s nighttime display. While it can’t compete with a Bell & Ross Diver Full Lume, the 104’s thick hands and indices lume large. The long-lasting C3 Super-LumiNova is an ideal aid for those wonderful “what the hell was that?” moments OFWG’s enjoy.
The über-reliable Sinn 104 has one quirk: its 60-click bi-directional bezel is a countdown timer. You twist the arrow to an event’s end time to follow your progress towards a goal.
It’s an excellent system for cooking Völsing Rindswurst or enforcing a ten minute warning to children, but not so great for lawyers looking to maximize billable hours.
If you’re looking to maximize your tool watch dollar with an elegant everyday everywhere timepiece designed to take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the Sinn 104 fits the bill.
Sinnply the best? The Yema Navygraf gives the Sinn a run for the money, but the 104’s beefy H-link bracelet, handsome dial and perfect proportions make it a Sinngular sensation. An entirely Sinncible choice. Sinncerely.
Model: Sinn 104
Case material: Polished stainless steel
Case diameter: 41mm
Case thickness: 11.5mm
Case lug width: 20mm
Lug to lug: 46.5mm
Dial color: Anthracite
Case back: Transparent
Movement: Top grade Sellita SW220-1, hacking seconds
Functions: Day/Date (English or German), hour, minutes, seconds
Weight: 5.9 ounces
Water resistance: 200 meters
Manufacturer’s limited warranty: 2 years
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * * *
Shows Eberhard how it’s done: elegant minimalism, perfect proportions.
Legibility * * * * *
Whiter-than-white hands and indices on a clutter-free black dial make it the Timex Easy Reader of German pilots’ dive watches.
Comfort * * * *
Hefty, but the bracelet is an upmarket delight. Star deducted for having to torture a fingernail to pry open the clasp (should loosen in time).
Overall * * * * *
A rock solid tool watch at an excellent price.
TTAW is an independent watch review website.
We don’t receive a commission on any links.
“The 104 mixes it up with higher-priced watches by dint of its august good looks…”
Thank you for the dictionary links, but I’ve known what “dint” and “august” mean since high school.
“For another, the 104’s rotating bezel shows a clear commitment to indefatigably.”
“Indefatigably” is an adverb. You want the noun, “indefatigability”. Too bad you didn’t make this a dictionary link, too.
You should check the meaning of “farrago”, it describes your style of writing.
Good save on indefatigability! I assure you it was a typo reflecting my advancing years rather than a vocabularical [sic] faux pas. Fixing now.
FYI I add dictionary links for our many ESL readers.
As for your opinion that my writing style is “a confused mixture,” I submit that your accusation is more an attempt to flaunt your erudition than deride my literary abilities. In any case, I’m always ready to be schooled by someone with greater insight into the coherent and compelling assembly of the written word than I, your humble horological hack.
Please feel free to submit an article on any watch-related topic that inspires your muse. It will be given full and fair consideration. Any edits will be subject to your approval, and reflect our mutual desire to appease critics who share your unabashed arrogance. I mean, your admirable level of discernment.
Hi Robert, excellent article. Am interested in a watch to replace my Longines Master, which was so unreliable and inaccurate that Swatch gave me my money back after multiple attempts at fixing. Anyway, I found your observations about the Sinn 104 informative, while the humour and wordplay were bonuses. Regards, Geoff
Buy it. No regrets.
[…] the left-handed EZM-watches. When Sinn planned to release a new watch to complement to the 103/104-range, one could think of a great number of ways to develop this hugely successful design. While […]
A google search for my favorite watch lead me to this site, and I was very pleased. I was a regular TTAG reader for years, who coincidentally posted a pic of my own Sinn 104 ST SA as part of a pocket dump post on that site awhile back.
Robert, I’m glad to see you are back at it with this new horological endeavor. Hopefully it attracts fewer trolls and crazy types than TTAG. Cheers and good luck!
By the way, this watch will break your heart the first time that perfect polished case gets a scratch, but you’ll get over it and will eventually embrace the ‘character’ it collects over time. Mine spends time on the H-link bracelet that I ordered separately, the vintage leather strap it came on, and various NATO straps. If your spring bars start to show fatigue from strap changes, email Sinn directly. They sent me a 4-pack direct from Germany, free of charge. Great service!