“I’m looking to buy my first expensive watch (up until now, a Khaki Field had been the pinnacle) and what I expect will be my one-watch collection,” a TTAW reader writes. “I’ve narrowed it down to the Sinn 104 St Sa in matte, or the Tudor Pelagos in black.” Sinn vs. Tudor! It’s on!
I understand both to be exceptional in terms of tool watches, and I expect that I wouldn’t go wrong in buying either. What I’m most interested in is . . .
which offers the best tactile experience. I’m a big fan of precision engineering and high quality “feels.” My edc is a Small Sebenza [knife] and a Maxmadco bolt pen in titanium, and I value both for the aforementioned reasons.
Slow-opening and closing the Sebbie and hearing that click each way, and the smooth rolling of the bolt in the Maxmadco and the logo milling in the finial…good stuff. Basically, I’m looking for those qualities in a watch: bezel action, crown action, build quality, bracelet quality, all of it.
So our reader isn’t bothered about his first “nice” watch’s national origin or brand rep. Its dial, hand or date window design. Luminosity. Water or shock resistance. The movement’s origin (SW220 vs. in-house), accuracy, quality or reliability.
Either that or our aspiring luxury watch owner has already gone through all that, rated the two timepieces roughly equal and settled on his final criteria for his Sinn vs. Tudor cage match: tactility. How the watch “handles.”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an extremely important, immediately apparent difference between these two timepieces that cannot be ignored in our Sinn vs. Tudor tacility showdown. Price.
Assuming you’re paying full retail for a box fresh example, the German contender clocks in at $1,720. The Swiss Miss runs $4,575. Given the Tudor’s $2855 price “premium,” you’d expect the Rolex sib’s tactility to win the day.
And you’d be right. While both watch’s bezels click with precision and certainty, while both watches are a joy to set, while there aren’t any perceptible flaws in their workmanship or assembly, the haptic difference between the bargain basement Sinn and the barely sub-Rolexian Tudor is far from immaterial. In fact, it’s all about the material.
The Pelagos’ case is fashioned from a blend of titanium and satin finish steel, attached to an all-titanium bracelet. The Sinn’s corrosion resistant 316L stainless steel case affixes to a stainless steel H-link bracelet. Titanium is a corrosion resistant metal with high heat transfer efficiency. Stainless steel – an alloy with carbon – is also corrosion resistant, but it transfers heat less efficiently. Body heat makes it feel warm to the touch. Which it is, along with significantly heavier. And some people prefer that.
What our reader won’t prefer: the Sinn’s finishing. Specifically, the bracelet.
Don’t get me wrong. Sinn’s bracelet is excellent for the price – beautifully polished and assembled. (Sinn 556i on an H-link bracelet above). But even setting aside Tudor’s patented, on-the-fly adjustment advantage, the Pelagos bracelet’s fit and finish wins the battle walking away.
The Sinn’s bracelet’s edges aren’t particularly sharp. You might even say they aren’t sharp. But they’re not rounded to riverstone smoothness like the Tudor’s. The German’s H-link bracelet sports a diver’s extension that’s nothing less than an ergonomic disaster; closing it requires one-handed origami. To finish it off, the Sinn’s stamped, lower-quality steel clasp is just plain nasty. Thin and flimsy.
The Tudor’s bracelet doesn’t match up to Rolex’s orgasmic Oystersteel, but it offers a lot more than foreplay (if you know what I mean). So unless our tactile-oriented reader orders the Sinn 104 St Sa on a leather strap and compares it to the Pelagos on its “free” rubber strap, there’s no comparison.
Or is there? In this case and throughout the line, Sinn watches provide 90 percent of what watches that cost more than twice the price offer. If you want brick shit house durability, Sinns are better. But if you’re fanatical about feel, if you want absolute tactile perfection, you have to pay the piper. Oh, and there’s no such thing as a one-watch collection. So, eventually, I recommend buying both.
I remember once upon a time when “tactility” was a review rating category here. Like vehicle suspensions, the best you’ve known is the best you know.
Hey, I’m sort of in the same boat as this person, Khaki Field (every day for three years now, hasn’t been serviced), but my EDC is a Spyderco Native 5 lightweight in black and a Pilot VP.
And I bought my Khaki on what they claimed was a leather strap, which I eventually switched to a two-piece seatbelt-material strap from watch bandit with nice hardware.
I’m not a metal strap kind of guy, but maybe it’s because I haven’t handled something like a Rolex — all of the metal straps I have handled make me feel like I probably need a tetanus shot afterwards, and it’s *always* the clasp.
So who’s got nicest feeling bracelets, with the nicest feeling and functioning clasps, closest to the bottom end of the market?
Longines hydroconquest isn’t a bad choice.
There is no “closest to the bottom of the market” if you want the good stuff. I reckon OMEGA is as close as you’re gonna get.
The clasp is the weak point on a lot of dive and sport watches. Omega made nice machined clasps first, and Rolex caught up in the mid-2000s as it switched from five to six digit reference numbers. Look at the clasp on a five digit Rolex and it’s not that great. A lot of Grand Seiko watches still have chintzy clasps. Anything over $200 should get you a solid bracelet and solid end links, but nicer clasps are hard to find. That said, a lot of the cheap looking clasps are still durable and comfortable.
It’s cheap feeling clasps that grinds my gears.
For a quality bracelet and clasp check out Monta watches.
So here’s the take from one who’s got both the 104 and the Pelly…
I think the post misses out on more important aspects when mainly focusing on the bracelet quality and case material. These are all together two completely different watches, with completely different purposes.
Type: the 104 is a pilot watch and the Pelagos a diver. The former has a cleaner design which makes it much more versatile and can fit in formal settings where a diver can’t. The 104 has traditional pilot syringe hands which gives the watch a rather classy feel, whereas the Pelagos is an ultramodern, professional diver.
Size: the diameter of the 104 is 41 around the bezel but 39-40 around the case. The Pelly is 42mm and comes with a slightly larger L2L. More importantly, the former has 20mm lugs and the latter 22mm lugs. That makes a huge difference in terms of prospective strap choices. On the topic of straps; the 104 works with a much larger array of various straps (ranging from canvas to leather, nato’s and bracelets).
Complications: The 104 has day/date, where the Pelly sports a simple date.
Movement: Here’s a small error in your post. The 104 is powered by a SW220 and not ETA. The first generation (two-line) Pelagos also had the ET2824, but now runs with the in-house powerhouse MT5612. The 70 hours power reserve is a thing and all things equal, this should be one of the prime reasons for chosing the Tudor.
Recommendation: none. This is apples and oranges.
All my correspondent wanted to know: tactility. Hence the post.
Instead of “none,” I thought the recommendation for “apples and oranges” was always, “BOTH!” Get both! 🙂
Or neither and buy the avacado
The Tudor seems to have a great case and bracelet design and a good quality movement. Unfortunately all that good work is completely undone by its very boring dial. So I would go for the Sinn, and then save up for a high end Seiko prosper diver.
I have never read such a load of anal nit picking drivel. Sinn is value for money because the Tuder price has to cover all the advertising, PR and paying that twerp David Beckham to endorse it.
I resemble that remark!
The fact is that there really is no comparison between the a Pelagos and Sinn 104. One is a titanium true diver with 500M water resistance, a helium escape valve, an extra rubber strap, arguably the best bracelet out there with on the fly adjustments, an in house movement with a 70 hr power reserve, a COSC certification, and insanely great lume on the dial and bezel. The Sinn has none of these qualities or specs. Compare the Sinn 104 to a Longines. Compare a Tudor Pelagos to a Sub or Seamaster.
The Tudor is nice, but I’m a big fan of the Sinn 104. Great insight and information Brent Schuller.
My wife bought me the blue Pelagos for Christmas 2017. I love it and wear it for work Monday to Friday and to the beach. It is absolutely bomb proof EXCEPT for the fact that the lume on the larger batons and pearl on the bezel have one by one fallen out.
I am going to get one of the new FXD Velcro straps for it