There is something very visceral about an automatic watch. It’s a tiny machine that sits on your wrist and uses what amounts to simple motion to power itself. Open one up and you’ll find a wonder world full of cogs, springs, and other engineering feats in miniature. There aren’t many art forms in the world that are so purely mechanical. It all calls to me in a major way.
I am a watch collector I guess. My eye is drawn to “tool” watches – watches built for a singular purpose rather than for fashion. I like watches that are built to be ignored and abused until they are needed in a pinch. What time is it? A single glance and you know… No bullshit, no buttons, no fashion.
The epitome of this nature is built by a small watch manufacturer in Germany – Sinn. Sinn makes a number of different model watches for different activities such as diving and flying, but they are all driven by simplicity of design and usability. For years I have wanted my own Sinn watch, but I have never been able to afford one. Last week, I through caution to wind, sold a number of my watches, and bought a Sinn 856.
The 856 is built on a stainless case that features something Sinn calls “tegmenting.” Essentially, “tegment” technology hardens steel to the point that it is up to 5 times harder than untreated steel. At the end of the day, this just means your watch is incredibly scratch resistant. It’s not uncommon to see a Sinn that is worn daily for a number of years, but still looks fresh.
Inside the durable case is a swiss made ETA 2893-2 movement. This is a GMT movement that is known to be durable, reliable, and smooth. I’ve been wearing my 856 for four days now and as I write this, my watch is averaging +.5 seconds per day. You simply aren’t going to get better accuracy than that from an automatic.
And this accuracy is protected in a couple of different ways past the case. For one, the 856 features magnetic field protection of up to 80,000 A/m. While I don’t really have a clue as to the number, I do know that this amongst the highest rated of any mechanical watch in the world. If you work around speakers or big magnets of any kind, this is protection worth noting.
Secondly, the watch features a copper sulphate capsule (viewable on the plain side of the case) that reacts to moisture and keeps humidity out of your watch. In other words, your crystal will not fog no matter the conditions.
However, all of this science and all of these statistics isn’t what makes a Sinn watch. It’s the fact that all of this technical stuff creates a watch that gets the hell of your way until you need it. Technically, the 856 is a pilot’s watch. It was built to be highly readable, very comfortable, and unobtrusive. The case is just about 40mm wide and just under 11mm tall. The watch has the heft of a mechanical, but it’s not heavy. When you wear it, the watch simply feels like an extension of your arm. It’s natural.
As mentioned, the 856 is also a GMT watch. For those of you not in the know, in its most simple of terms a GMT watch is a watch with two hours hands that allow you to track two different time zones. I travel quite a bit and figured this would be useful. Plus, I really fell for the looks of the second hour hand. The simple face combined with the aircraft inspired hands creates a look that is not all that different from an altimeter gauge on an airplane. I love that.
Despite all of the technology used to create this machine, this is still a very simple watch that was built with functionality in mind over any kind of style. So simple, that I bet a number of you aren’t quite as enamored as I am with the piece. This one doesn’t jump out at you and kick you in the teeth like a Rolex or Breitling would. And I think that might be a big reason that it calls to me. This one is a lifer.
It all comes at a price, of course… The 856 on a bracelet comes in at just over $1800 while on a strap it is a tad over $1500. Certainly not Rolex pricing, but a hefty chunk of change for a working man like myself. There is only one authorized dealer in the US and they are an “online only” organization. This might be a put off to some of you, but I found Watchbuys to be a really thoughtful dealer. After my order, they called me on the phone to pamper me a bit and that was very much appreciated. I get the feeling that like Sinn, Watchbuys is a small and family run organization.
In any case, that’s the review of the Sinn 856. I hope you guys enjoy the photographs…