A Bloom in the Tundra: Sinn 104 st sa
In the array of watch choices presented at Baseworld 2013 (see here), Sinn provides a standout. Though a classic military pilot watch, meaning it has both navigation functionality and emblematic style, the Sinn 104 st sa possesses the rare versatility of being at home in the office or on the driving range; taxiing down the tarmac or navigating a romantic evening; playing the financial markets or playing with the kids. It is an everyday watch.
Mountaineers climb to great heights from which they gain a vantage point, surveying the landscape below. At a certain altitude, they reach the timberline above which no trees will grow, and only a bald slope remains. This so-called barren landscape is the tundra. At this height, the couloirs extend like roadways to the valley floor, the congregation of fellow peaks gathers in solemn witness, and patches of winter’s snow defy spring’s arrival. When you are near the top, walking on the tundra, your field of vision is a panorama of majesty. Like tourists with their necks arched to view the skyscrapers, many fail to see what lies just at their feet: the beauty of the tundra and its miniature blossoms, which are rugged enough to survive at altitude.
Attending Baselworld, I felt like a mountaineer, and not just because of the gear hanging off my shoulders or the camera dangling from neck, but because of the glorious view of watch brands, booth after booth, and the literal miles of freshly laid carpet. Certain brands claimed the summit, and journalists, myself included, scrambled over one another to gaze upon these brands’ ascendancy. Besides the Hall 1.0 showcases, I also wanted to see the proverbial flowers growing in the tundra, those easily overlooked models, which are rugged enough to survive at the highest echelons.
A gem of a watch caught my eye, “Wow, this is cool!” and I stopped in my tracks. Having a penchant for tool watches, especially pilot watches, I keep my eyes open for models that distinguish themselves. Sinn’s model 104 st sa (steel, sapphire) fits nicely into their pilot collection, but more importantly, fits into the niche of being an everyday watch. If you are reading this article, it is unlikely you would be satisfied with having only one watch, but for someone, the 104 could fit that bill nicely, and for the rest of us, it makes a great addition to our collection.
Would it be an exaggeration to say that Sinn is synonymous with tool watches? Through and through, Sinn is a tool watch company; they know who they are, and they manufacture to the highest precision. Their pilot watches are simple and to the point without being simplistic.
The military style hands, high contrast black and white color scheme for added visibility (not to mention the lume), and the bi-directional countdown bezel, used for waypoint navigation, make the 104 an aviation tool. The bezel deserves closer scrutiny.
It is a captive bezel, which means that instead of the usual snap-in mechanism, this bezel has a safety feature to prevent the bezel from snapping off. The countdown feature measures time to completion rather than time from the start. The latter function is common on dive watches, but the countdown feature is specific to aviation. Also, if you have a two o’clock appointment, you can check how much free time you have left for reading Monochrome.
The day/date function breaks the symmetry on the watch and introduces its everyday functionality. Military style pilot watches lack the day/date window, but how often have I been wearing one of these watches only to look at my wrist and find nothing but the time? For me, those moments end with “ugh.” With the 104, you get heritage, but you also get greater usefulness.
The 104 uses a Sellita 220-1 movement, which you can view through the see-through case back, its golden rotor there to greet you, complete with logo and Geneva stripes. Six screws affix the case back. At 41mm, the entire case sits modestly on the wrist. The rugged leather strap with white stitching underscores the pilot motif, but the watch is also available with a silicon strap or steel bracelet.
Like a flower in the tundra, the Sinn 104 st sa is not to be overlooked. Classic, modern and unobtrusive, this watch is a smart find among Baselworld’s many offerings.
The Sinn 104 St Sa comes at a retail price of around € 950 Euro including tax/VAT (or around € 800,- Euro befor tax/VAT). Please visit the Sinn website here, to see all specs and to order one online.
Agree completely. I’ll be buying one at release. The reason? A rare Sinn w/o Arabic numerals, something I don’t care for.
Classic, sporty. And the usual good Sinn pricing.
I love this new model. But I already have a 103 St Sa. Still, my resolve may crumble.
Great pics, too!
Great story! I have a minor correction: the bezel on the 104St is a “captive bezel” which only means that it is not a snap-in bezel but has retaining screws to reduce the possibility of the bezel snapping off. The only Sinn watches with the push-to-turn safety feature are the T1, T2, and U1000 models which are all diving watches.
Dan Lee. Basel is a mad dash of appointments, watch viewings, and interviews. In the midst of this chaos, I am careful to photograph and take notes on each piece. At Sinn, I viewed the T1,T2 and 104 together, and mistakenly jotted a bezel note that only applied to the T1 and T2. Thank you for pointing this out, and I will correct the article.
Great article, Max. Agree with impressions as I have my downpayment placed. Looking forward to wearing this one.
An excellent article, Max – very well written and entertaining to read. I’ve owned a couple of Sinns in the past and there aren’t many models in their range that I don’t find attractive. This one looks like a future classic.