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05/08/2024
 5 minutes

Flight Test: A Review of the Sinn 103 St Ty Hd Pilot’s Watch

By Sebastian Swart
Sinn-2-1

Flight Test: A Review of the Sinn 103 St Ty Hd Pilot’s Watch

On February 14, 2024, the German brand Sinn sent a ripple through their community of fans and followers. Their new model, the 103 St Ty Hd, is a visually and technically stunning variant of the legendary chronograph from the 103 series. The watch’s name provides a first glimpse at some of its features – St for steel, Ty for tachymeter, and Hd for hand-wound. It also stands out for its colorful design, with red accents on the hour indices, the chronograph seconds hand and the subdial at 3 o’clock.

From a technical perspective, the 103 St Ty Hd is the first watch from this series to sport a hand-wound caliber in 20 years. The model is limited to 1,000 pieces, and the first batch sold out within just a few days. That means the watch isn’t exactly a rarity, but I was convinced by its features and decided to buy it on the spur of the moment. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Sinn 103 in general and the 103 St Ty Hd in particular.

A Look Back at the Sinn 103

The history of the Sinn 103 is long and full of enough interesting details to fill a book. Below, I’ll give a brief overview of a few selected variants of the 103.

The brand takes its name from founder Helmut Sinn, who died in 2018 at the age of 101. He was a seasoned professional pilot and started the company in 1961 as “Helmut Sinn Spezialuhren”. From the very beginning, he concentrated on making affordable instrument and pilot’s watches that were very precise and reliable. The 103 was one of these watches and launched in the late 1960s. Early models exhibited the influence of pilot’s watches from important manufacturers like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Breguet, and Mathey-Tissot.

It thus comes as no surprise that some of those manufacturers’ models from that time bear a technical and visual resemblance to each other. In many cases, they even share components. As far as calibers go, the hand-wound Valjoux 72 or 726 was frequently used, giving the watches their characteristic tricompax design with subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.

The late 1980s saw a new chapter in the history of the 103. For the first time, Sinn used the automatic caliber Valjoux 7750, in addition to the hand-wound Valjoux 7760. What the two movements have in common is their arrangement of the subdials at 3, 6, and 12 o’clock, with date and day at 3. Today, Sinn uses movements sourced from Swiss manufacturer Sellita and the lesser-known companies Concepto and La Joux-Perret.

Sinn Under the Leadership of Lothar Schmidt

In 1994, mechanical engineer Lothar Schmidt took over the company. Schmidt, who had previously served as head of production and development at IWC Schaffhausen, brought with him a wave of fresh ideas. For example, many of the brand’s models, including 103 variants, were equipped with AR dehumidifying technology. The technology involves a capsule filled with an inert gas that is integrated into the case and removes moisture from the watch.

Moderne Sinn 103 mit automatischen Kaliber Valjoux 7750
Modern Sinn 103 with automatic Valjoux caliber 7750

Schmidt noticed that very early and rare variants of the 103 were highly sought after by collectors and fans, often fetching high prices. It thus made sense to cater to that clientele with innovative new watches that reinterpret classic models. That’s how several exciting limited editions of the 103 were born, all of which revive the classic dial design with subdials at 3, 6, and 9. Those watches include the 103 Klassik, 103 Klassik 12 H, and 103 St Klassik C. Another notable model is the 103 St C, a bicompax variant with subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock.

Auf 200 Exemplare limitiert – Sonderedition Sinn 103 Klassik C
The special edition Sinn 103 Klassik C, limited to 200 pieces

A Closer Look at the Sinn 103 St Ty Hd

As soon as the 103 St Ty Hd appeared on the Sinn website, people on online watch forums began discussing the model’s look, which was anything but ordinary for a 103. In addition to the red accents, the white tachymeter scale stretching over the entire rehaut caught everyone’s attention. Many found the scale far too dominant from certain angles, while others considered it perfect. A matter of taste. What just a few of those passionate voices knew – myself among them – was that the 103 St Ty Hd has a historical role model, the Sinn 103 C. Sinn released that model back in the 1970s and based it on a design from Mathey- Tissot.

Vintage Chronograph von Matthey-Tissot
Vintage chronograph by Matthey-Tissot

The 103 St Ty Hd has a fully polished stainless steel case. Measured over the slightly protruding bezel, the watch has a diameter of 41 mm, while the diameter of the case on its own is 40 mm. The bezel is made of black anodized aluminum and fit with a pilot’s scale. At 14.8 mm thick (including the high acrylic crystal), the model is a whole 2.4 mm flatter than the standard 103 St Sa with an automatic caliber and sapphire crystal. The lug width is 20 mm, while the lug-to-lug measurement is 47 mm. Basically, these are the kinds of watch dimensions that look good on the vast majority of wrists.

Notably, the watch is vacuum sealed and water-resistant up to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft). Sinn achieves this with the D3 system, in which the push-piece pins and crown shaft are mounted directly in a case aperture and sealed seamlessly with the case. The 103 St Ty Hd is powered by a Sellita caliber SW 510 M with a power reserve of 62 hours. However, like the original, this model is fit with a screw-down stainless steel case back, meaning that its fascinating workings are hidden from view.

Hommage an die Sinn 103 C der 1970er – Sinn 103 St Ty Hd
Homage to the Sinn 103 C from the 1970s: The Sinn 103 St Ty Hd

Dial

The 103 St Ty Hd dial design largely follows the that of the original. The color of the subdials can best be described as a silvery beige, giving rise to a popular reverse panda look. As with its predecessor, this model has silver applied indices that truly shine thanks to their fine polish. On the upper end of the indices, below the red markings, there’s a dab of luminous material that’s supposed to glow in the dark. I say “supposed to” because the result is a bit disappointing. The indices only glow briefly and weakly, meaning that if you want to read the time in the dark, you’ll have to rely on the hour and minute hands alone. The hands do glow better than the indices, but are still far from what more affordable manufacturers and microbrands have to offer.

Is the tachymeter scale too wide? Ultimately, you’ll have to answer this question for yourself. The angle you look at the dial from will be decisive. Viewed from above, the heavily curved acrylic crystal seems to enlarge the scale. But when viewed from the side, the scale is in perfect harmony with the dial, which appears pleasantly compact.

Summary

The 103 St Ty Hd is a very special addition to Sinn’s 103 series. With great attention to detail, the model embodies the spirit of the chronographs of the 1970s, in particular the Sinn 103 C and the corresponding models from Mathey-Tissot. The watch is especially attractive because it’s the first 103 in 20 years with a hand-wound caliber. Unfortunately, the dial is rather difficult to read in the dark, which is a bit of a negative. On the positive side, the watch is very comfortable to wear due to its small size, and it fits most wrist sizes. With a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, the 103 St Ty Hd isn’t particularly rare, but it’s still exclusive enough to be of interest to collectors.


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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