When the idea of standards or certifications come on the table in watchmaking, you probably have in mind COSC or observatory certifications. However, it will somehow be a shortcut. For instance, dive watches have to meet certain standards, like for instance the DIN 8306 / ISO 6425 standards. Well, you won’t be surprised to know that such standards exist for pilot watches too – and you won’t be surprised either that it comes directly from Germany, a country which doesn’t joke with rules. Sinn developed the TeStaF standards in the past, which now comes to something institutional, the DIN 8330 standards, and here are the 3 first Sinn watches to meet up with these requirements.
The TeStaF standards and DIN 8330
German DIN standards are well respected and known for the quality and the serious of their certifications. We’re not going to fall into the easy jokes about Germans and rules, but clearly, DIN standards have a huge recognition both nationally and internationally, and represent a very high level of quality. In March 2016, the new standard “DIN 8330 Horology – Aviator watches” came to life. It sets a new benchmark for safe, functional and reliable pilot watches. Watches certified in accordance with DIN 8330 are designed to fully assume the functions of the instruments for time measurement in aircraft and helicopters. This means that pilot watches must meet certain requirements in terms of functionality and reliability, resistance to external stresses, safety and compatibility with the environment they will evolve in.
DIN 8330 – Low pressure test
Everything started in 2012, when Sinn developed, together with EuroCopter and the University of Aachen (Germany), a new standard to certified the good run of pilot watches; TeStaF. TeStaF is a German abbreviation for ‘Technischer Standard Fliegeruhren’ or Technical Standard for Pilot’s Watches. Until this, there were no technical requirements for Pilot’s Watches, like there are the DIN 8306 / ISO 6425 standards for Dive Watches. This standard brought functional requirements as well as requirements for the stress a watch can be exposed to in practical use.
On the contrary of many brands, Sinn does watches with a purpose, watches that are build for a certain use, and not watches that are made to be used for fashion. This is why, in 2012, they developed the TeStaF certification. Building on this standard – again on the initiative of SINN, and with the broad participation of the German watchmaking industry – the “DIN 8330 Horology – Aviator watches” was developed over a period of several years by users, testing institutes and scientists, and introduced in March 2016.
DIN 8330 – magnetic field test
DIN 8330 defines what a pilot watch must be able to do and which stresses it must be able to withstand. This includes fast, clear readability of the dial both during the day and at night, the ability to operate the watch even while wearing pilot gloves and accuracy not only at room temperature but also at ranges of between –15°C and 55°C. The DIN tests to determine physical resilience include a simple low-pressure test, but also a several-thousandfold pressure change cycle which simulates the stresses on the watch caused by changes in pressure during take-off and landing of an aircraft in daily long-haul operation. Resistance to liquids typically found in aircraft (fuel, lubricants, cleaning fluid and de-icing fluid) is also tested. A DIN-certified pilot watch must also be able to withstand clearly defined vibrations, impact and centrifugal force loads, temperature changes and, not least, magnetic fields. The complete watch must prove that it meets the requirements even when placed under these various physical stresses.
DIN 8330 – impacts and vibrations test
DIN 8330 standards also make sure that the watch doesn’t visually interfere with the rest of the equipments, especially night-vision equipment. Light reflections that could distract or dazzle the pilot are minimized, and the possibility of any interference with the plane’s avionics and emergency compass is eliminated.
All of that has of course one single goal: creating watches that are safe, efficient and reliable, in use condition for pilots. Note that this DIN 8330 is of course not proprietary and that other brands, at least those capable of creating such robust and efficient watches, could have their watches certified by these standards – which have been developed by Sinn, based on TestaF, but also by Stowa, Glashütte Original, Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Lufthansa Cargo, Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter), DNV GL (formerly Germanischer Lloyd) and others.
3 new Sinn meeting the new DINN 8330 Standards
Well, you won’t be surprised that after such serious processes, Sinn actually applied them into production watches. The other way would have quite disappointing anyway. So, based on these new DIN 8330 requirements, Sinn Spezialuhren just introduced 3 watches, of course all pilot-oriented, with a great dedication to this purpose, maybe less for the design – but that’s actually what makes these watches desirable, as being some functional, well designed tools.
All these watches share several features, like a capacity to perfectly work in a –45 °C up to +80 °C range, some bead-blasted cases, to prevent reflections, they have pilot bezels, bi-directional, with 60 minute scale, sapphire crystals, water resistance to 20 bars or 200m, and finally (useful in the context of a plane cockpit), a resistance to low-pressure environments. Dials are black, with highly contrasting numerals and tracks. Tool-watches in their purest forms.
The first DIN 8330 certified model is clearly not a surprised for those who are familiar with the brand. The Sinn 103 Ti IFR is actually based on one of the most famous and historical watch of the brand, the 103 St – an already solid, functional and reputable pilot watch. This chronograph, to meet with the new criteria, has been slightly modified, with first a case made out of matte titanium (bead-blasted). This chronograph measures 41mm x 17mm and is equipped with a rotating bezel, with 60m scale printed in an anti-clockwise way – it will be used as a countdown and not as a timer. Hands are large and highly luminous and the matte black dial shows a slightly different display, as it gets rid of the 12-hour counter at 6. The movement is a classical Valjoux 7750 with date (visible through a transparent back). Price… Well that’s the good point, as it starts at 2,380 Euros on leather strap.
The second model of this DIN 8330 range is rather close in terms of design, as based on the same titanium case, with still a chronograph but with the added UTC function. This Sinn 103 Ti UTC IFR consists of a second time-zone indicated by a centrally mounted grey hand – a feature that is extremely practical in long flights, when you have to cross several time-zones. For the rest, this watch is the same as the other chronograph. Price will start at 2,880 Euros.
The third and latest watch being DIN 8330 certified is the 857 UTC VFR, this time a non-chronograph version, still with a rotating pilot bezel and UTC / second time-zone function. This watch comes in a stainless steel case, treated with TEGIMENT Technology (a chemical process that hardens the surface layer of the steel to approximately 1200 vickers, when normal steel is around 220 vickers). Thus, it becomes a watch solid as a rock and extremely scratch resistant. It measures 43mm x 12mm. The dial is all about a pilot layout, with huge numerals and tracks in white, printed on a matte black dial. In the center is an orange 24-hour scale, indicating a second time-zone, pointed by an orange arrow hand. The watch is power by an ETA 2893-2 automatic. Price is 1,990 Euros.
These 3 watches are expect to be delivered during the 4th quarter of 2016. Orders can already be made through the official website.