Sinn (watchmaker)

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Sinn
Industry watches (especially for use in aviation)
Founded 1961
Founder(s) Helmut Sinn
Headquarters Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Products watches and timepieces
Website www.sinn.de

Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH is a manufacturer of mechanical wristwatches based in Frankfurt am Main. The company was founded in 1961 by flight instructor and pilot Helmut Sinn under the name ‘Helmut Sinn Spezialuhren’.

History[edit]

Following its foundation in 1961, the company focused on the manufacture of navigation cockpit clocks and pilot chronographs and sold these through direct selling, bypassing retailers. The clocks and watches were produced according to Helmut Sinn’s specifications in the private label sector in Switzerland. By eliminating the trade margin of the retailers, the company was able to offer its clocks and watches at a lower price than through traditional sales channels. Word of their quality and value for money spread quickly among pilots, aided also by the fact that Helmut Sinn was a pilot.

In 1994, Helmut Sinn sold the company to Lothar Schmidt. Following the sale, he acquired Swiss watchmaker Guinand in 1996. In 1998, he set up a new company in Frankfurt am Main. With this company, he offered brand watches from Jubilar, Chronosport and the newly acquired Guinand. In 2006, he retired from business activity. Since handing over the management of the business to his long-standing employee Horst Hassler, he now acts as an advisor to the company.

Certified engineer Lothar Schmidt began working for Sinn Spezialuhren in September 1993. Prior to this, he had been working since 1981 for International Watch Company (IWC) in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, first as a freelancer, then as an authorised representative. He was responsible for setting up and operating case and strap production, as well as construction and design. Subsequently he was in charge of setting up and operating component production. From 1990 up until his retirement, he was also in charge of overseeing the development of production and logistics at the then subsidiary of IWC, A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte, Saxony, which had been restored following the collapse of the East German government. Under his leadership, Sinn Spezialuhren underwent major change. It split from the private label sector, expanded its model range, and developed its own watch models and innovative technologies. In addition to direct selling, Lothar Schmidt introduced the concept of distributors: selected watchmakers who also sell the watches. Furthermore, the name of the company was changed to Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH. Most of the company’s watches are assembled and regulated in Frankfurt am Main. Over 12,000 watches are currently sold every year.

Mission timers for professional users also play an important role. These include special forces such as the marine unit of the German federal police GSG 9, the fire service, divers and pilots. German physicist and astronaut Reinhard Furrer wore the 140 S on his wrist during the Spacelab D1 mission in 1985, thus proving that a mechanical SINN watch with automatic movement also works with zero gravity. During the Mir ’92 mission in 1992, astronaut Klaus-Dietrich Flade flew into space with a 142 S from Sinn Spezialuhren on his wrist. In 1993, it was the 142 from Sinn Spezialuhren that was on board the Columbia on Mission D2.

Sächsische Uhrentechnologie GmbH (SUG)[edit]

In 1999, Walter Fricker (owner of the watch-case company Fricker in Pforzheim, Germany), Ronald Boldt (former head of technology and quality assurance at the German luxury watchmaking company Glashütte Uhrenbetrieb) and Lothar Schmidt founded their own watch-case firm, Sächsische Uhrentechnologie GmbH (SUG) in Glashütte. Walter Fricker is no longer involved in the firm. Besides Sinn Spezialuhren, other well-known watchmakers make up the main customer base for the cases.

Technologies[edit]

Sinn Spezialuhren is considered a technological and engineering brand, i.e. the company develops new technical solutions for special areas of application and for solving the typical problems experienced with mechanical watches. Accordingly, the company produces robust timepieces suitable for both everyday and professional use, which should actually be regarded as instruments. This is achieved primarily using technologies developed in-house.

  • TEGIMENT: greatly increased scratch resistance thanks to surface hardening
TEGIMENT Technology increases the hardness of the base material, e.g. stainless steel, many times over and is highly scratch-resistant. This method is not, however, based on the application of a coating. Instead it is the surface of the material itself which is hardened by means of a special process, thereby creating a protective layer (tegimentum in Latin). The surface of any watch hardened using TEGIMENT Technology has a significantly greater level of protection against scratches than that afforded by the hardness of the base material.
  • Black hard coating – only in combination with TEGIMENT
Such hardened surfaces can be used as a basis for applying high-quality hard coatings (so-called PVD coatings) using the PVD technique. Sinn Spezialuhren therefore uses hard coatings exclusively with TEGIMENT surfaces. The reason for this is that paint coatings applied using the PVD technique are exceptionally hard. The great and sudden difference in hardness between the hard paint coating and base material means these tend to crack when under stress because the hard shell (PVD paint coating) is applied seamlessly to a very soft core (case material). When suddenly subjected to stress, the base material yields and cannot support the outer layer sufficiently (eggshell effect). The hardness of the TEGIMENT surface, by contrast, supports the hard coating. This prevents the eggshell effect and dramatically reduces flaking of the paint coating.
  • Ar-Dehumidifying Technology: greater functional reliability and condensation protection
Ar-Dehumidifying Technology solves a basic problem of mechanical watches: the ageing of oils due to moisture in the air contained inside, or diffusing into, the watch. The movement is mounted in a nearly anhydrous atmosphere thanks to the three Ar-Dehumidifying Technology elements of drying capsule, EDR seals (extremely diffusion-inhibiting) and protective gas filling. Ageing processes and fogging of the cover glass due to sudden cold (e.g. immersion in cold water) are prevented, and reliable functioning and accuracy are ensured.
  • DIAPAL: the lubricant-free lever escapement
In the case of DIAPAL technology, Sinn Spezialuhren selects special material combinations that work together without lubrication and without causing friction, ensuring the long-term accuracy of the movement and particularly of the Swiss lever escapement. This also extends watch maintenance intervals. Empirically, the lever escapement is the most sensitive component of the movement with regard to accuracy, i.e. the quality of the lubrication at this point has the largest impact on the accuracy of the entire movement. In 1995, Sinn Spezialuhren began testing numerous material combinations and in 2000, applied for the first patents.
  • HYDRO: reflection-free readability under water
In a HYDRO watch case, the movement, dial and hands are held in a crystal-clear bath of fluid with the same refractive index as that of the sapphire crystal glass. This means that the light reflected by the dial and hands is not refracted as it enters the sapphire crystal glass. The filling fluid is also incompressible and replaces the air inside the case, which inevitably contains moisture. Thus HYDRO watches offer reflection-free readability under water from every angle, absolute freedom from condensation and pressure resistance at any accessible diving depth.
  • Magnetic field protection: greater accuracy
Magnetic fields such as those of electric motors, loudspeakers or magnetic clasps cause the Nivarox balance spring to become magnetised and adversely affect the accuracy of the watch. Sinn Spezialuhren solves this problem by using a protective sheath consisting of a closed, magnetically soft case interior that includes the dial, the movement holding ring and the case back. With this magnetic field protection, Sinn Spezialuhren far exceeds the DIN standard for anti-magnetic watches and thus minimises magnetic interference. The DIN standard for anti-magnetic watches requires protection only up to 4,800 A/m. The solution offered by Sinn Spezialuhren offers magnetic field protection up to 80,000 A/m.
  • Temperature Resistance Technology: functionally reliable from –45°C up to +80°C
The long-term accuracy of a watch movement crucially depends on the lubrication of its moving parts – particularly at extreme temperatures. Sinn Spezialuhren uses a special oil to ensure reliable function under even the most extreme conditions. This universal oil can be used in the balance bearings, train wheel or the escapement pallets. With its outstanding properties, it provides lubrication that is highly resistant to ageing at temperatures of between –45°C and +80°C.
  • Safety bezel: increased diver safety
To prevent any risks to divers, the design of the rotating bezel used in certain Sinn diving watches is based on two elements. One is the captive design of the rotating bezel. This secure attachment differs greatly from that of conventional snap-in mechanisms. A special design prevents the rotating bezel from becoming detached as a result of catching or being accidentally knocked, causing the set time to be lost. In addition to the secure attachment, the safety bezel is also protected against accidental rotation – a feature which goes beyond the specifications laid down in DIN 8306. This standard stipulates that it should only be possible to adjust the set time of a diving watch by turning the bezel anticlockwise on one side. A patented mechanism prevents the safety bezel from being unintentionally rotated. This makes it impossible for the set time to be accidentally knocked and changed.

Besides titanium, Sinn Spezialuhren also uses high-strength seawater-resistant German submarine steel for its diving watches. This special grade of steel was developed by ThyssenKrupp for the outer hulls of the world’s latest non-nuclear submarines of the German navy. The steel is also non-magnetic and extremely crack-resistant.

Tests and certifications[edit]

  • Pressure and water resistance
Sinn Spezialuhren watches are certified by independent institutes according to existing standards and guidelines in order to document their suitability for professional use and ensure the company’s commitment to quality. Germanischer Lloyd, the world’s largest classification society for maritime safety, has therefore been testing and certifying SINN diving watches for pressure and water resistance since 2005.
  • European diving device standards
The fact that SINN diving watches have been classed as part of diving equipment and tested and certified according to the European standards for diving devices EN 250 and EN 14143 by Germanischer Lloyd since 2006 is something of a novelty in the watch industry.
  • TESTAF (the technical standard for pilot watches)
Selected pilot watches from Sinn Spezialuhren have been tested and certified by Aachen University of Applied Sciences according to the technical standard for pilot watches TESTAF (Technischer Standard Fliegeruhren). Developed on the initiative of Sinn Spezialuhren, TESTAF ensures that a pilot watch meets all time measurement requirements during flight operations in accordance with visual flight rules and/or instrument flight rules and is qualified for professional use.

Awards[edit]

1. First place at the Goldene Unruh awards

  • 1998: 103 Ti Ar (watches up to 2,000 Euros)
  • 2006: Frankfurt Financial District Watch in white gold (watches up to 10,000 euros)
  • 2008: 6100 REGULATEUR rose gold
  • 2010: 900 PILOT
  • 2010: 6100 REGULATEUR rose gold
  • 2012: Frankfurt Financial District Watch in platinum

References[edit]

Schmid, Hans Heinrich: Lexikon der Deutschen Uhrenindustrie 1850–1980 (Encyclopedia of the German watchmaking industry 1850–1980). Villingen-Schwenningen: Förderkreis Lebendiges Uhrenindustriemuseum e.V., 2005, ISBN 3-927987-91-3

External links[edit]