A different look at a fantastic new release - with the help of some Cornish views...
“We feel that our watches need to be experienced properly, not just sat by a desk. The U50 is a little submarine on the wrist. It is made for rough environments so please go ahead and fully experience the watch.”
After receiving an email including the above from a company who is about to loan you a watch for a few weeks, only excitement and adventure fills your mind. Many companies say similar things when planning and organising these types of articles but not many go the extra mile like Sinn did to openly communicate that they want their new U50 watch to be put through its paces. Challenge accepted.
The U50 is a new watch for 2020 with some familiar visual features that were originally found in their U1 model. The U1 is their 1000m water resistant, 44mm diver whereas the U50 is 41mm and comes with 500m. So what better way to experience this new release than by taking it on a new experience for 2020, a holiday.
Its assignment was simply to survive a week-long break in Cornwall. And yes I know, this isn’t exactly a hard task for the U50. It is a watch that can survive any day-long hike on the edge of a sea cliff in the rain without blinking. This week with the Sinn was less about what brutal tests it can be put through but rather how well can the watch perform when in situations where the watch on your wrist should be the least of your concerns.
At the end of the day this watch carries an obtainable, but still noticeable price tag. So what is it like when you let go of all concerns about its price tag or potential damage it could pick up and just simply use the watch when not sitting behind a desk?
Putting the Sinn U50 through its paces
As the desired destination was punched into the sat nav I immediately instinctively aligned the soft, matt black hard-coated bezel with Tegiment technology to the current hour. It’s a funny habit I tend to do every time when setting off on a long journey because at a quick glance you can quickly see how far into your journey you are, without having to rely on memory. It’s a quick and easy way of feeling more connected to the watch on your wrist, and in the case of the Sinn, it worked like a charm.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say the bezel click on the U50 is solid but rather it is deliberate. Think of the bezel like a reliable release buckle on a backpack, as you slide the two parts together they click into place and you know you have a secure fit. Case in point is the construction of the bezel and its dimensions. At 5mm wide with grippy edges, the bezel is always a pleasure to adjust.
Right from the start of my time with the Sinn U50, it was clear that this was going to be a comfortable 7 days for my wrist. When a watch is 41mm wide, 11.1mm thick and has a lug to lug just a hair over 47mm there is just no way that comfort is going to be an issue. This came in useful as the watch was worn all the time. Be it out on an all-day hike or back at the accommodation where WiFi felt like an ultra-modern piece of tech and the ominous lack of signal bars on my phone meaning mornings were filled with reading and planning the day.
Crossing The Congo Over Land and Water in a Hard Place by Chloé Baker and Dr Mike Martin was the book of choice for this week-long stretch which turned out to be a fantastic story filled with adventure, roadblocks (both physical ones and metaphorical ones), Land Rover Defender goodness and also a perfect companion for the Sinn. Through the U50, the illusion and imagery found in Crossing the Congo increased that primitive, ‘essentials only’ connection between what was on my wrist.
When it was time to venture out and tackle the British summertime (for those wondering, that's a little bit of sun, then overcast cloud which naturally mutates into a heavy downpour) the U50 put its head down and cracked on with the task at hand.No surprise then that when we were inevitably stuck in the middle of an infamous English summer downpour with the heavens deciding it was over providing us with 20°C heat, the bold and large hands of the U50 remained ever legible. This was ‘wear shorts but pack a waterproof coat wherever you go’ weather (something we’re all used to here in the UK). Even when covered in rain, smudges and dirt the Sinn refused to be unreadable. This whimsical handset adds something very special to the connection with the watch.
It was moments like this when the clever little design choices from Sinn really jump out. One of my personal favourites is how the hour markers match the tips of the hands. It’s a small thing, but it made time adjusting through the 4 o'clock crown position (although fiddly) enjoyable, as I could perfectly place the minute hand over the correct hour indices like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
The lume was also seriously impressive on the U50. It's to be expected, with the sheer amount of lume presence on the dial it's no surprise it was like sleeping with a Christmas tree on the bedside table when the Cornish activities were over.
Part of the pleasure of being away is never really quite knowing what the date or day is. It reflects that relaxed mindset you’re in when the only thing that matters is how much you’re enjoying a long hike and which spot to stop at for your next drink/meal. This was certainly true for me as it was day 2 or 3 before I even noticed the date on the U50. Neatly nestled within the parameters of the hour marker width is a black date window, matching the matt black dial it sits on.
This in part might show how little the date mattered to me when away but it also is a testament to the work of Sinn. Date windows are known to ‘ruin the symmetry of watches’ but in the case of the U50, I simply did not experience this at all. Of course, this window place is only possible thanks to the SW300-1 movement powering the watch.
Something that my appreciation has grown for with watches is a solid execution of the understated. Of course, I love the polished surfaces, eye-grabbing design and out there looks of certain watches. But most of the time I like a watch to do the task at hand effectively and quietly. This is one of the main reasons why three-hander watches appeal so much and in this case, the U50.On the occasion where I had to be in close proximity to fellow holiday goers (2 metres apart, of course) the Sinn didn’t attract any unwelcome attention. A huge reason for this is down to the bead blasted German submarine steel case. Easily one of the best watch cases for more practical activities, the U50 case favours increased scratch resistance and a subdued metal aesthetic over high levels of polishing or chamfered edges.
It’s probably time to be open and honest with you all. For all the times the Sinn was out in the field working away, when it came to evening meals at popular Cornish restaurants the U50 stayed off the wrist. There is a time and a place for this watch which for other watches could be seen as a negative but here it is one of its strengths. For a practical reliable watch, it didn't have any interest in it being paired with a shirt and chinos.
Which is fair enough, focus on the job and hand and execute it extremely well. The U50 is one of those watches that looks better when it has been battered, used and shown to have lived a life. It doesn’t need babying at all. You can strap it onto your wrist and forget it is even there, knowing that it is always going to remain unphased by anything you can throw at it. It’s quite normal to spend the best part of £2,000 on a watch to then be overly cautious about wearing it in potentially stressful situations that could cause unwanted damage. The U50 is a different story.
Treating this watch as a ‘beater’ is the best way to enjoy it. Sure, you’ll be throwing £2,000 around on your wrist but the price of the watch isn’t inflated for the wrong reasons. It has that price tag because of the sum of its parts. For some time now I’ve always liked the idea of buying an entry-level priced watch, probably second hand, and using it as a beater. I’d like to try that at some point and the Black Bay 36 would be a solid choice because of the similarity to vintage Rolex Explorer’s. However, if I go off the BB36, the U50 has easily gone straight into the #2 spot.
Replacement Watch Straps for the Sinn U50The Sinn U50 arrived with us on their white rubber silicone strap, along with their familiar metal bracelet. This bracelet is the same one we saw on the 356 Pilots Chronograph which (like the case) is fully bead blasted. It’s a truly great option for the U50 and we’d recommend getting the watch on the bracelet. The rubber is no doubt a quality option, with Sinn branding throughout and a solid buckle, but due to the thickness of the strap and the weight of the buckle it just felt a little counterproductive on a watch that is sold as the smaller, thinner and more slender version of the U1.
Let's push through those drilled lugs and give the U50 a different look...
ZULUDIVER Seacroft Waffle FKM Rubber Dive Watch Strap in Black
When it's time for a change, the Seacroft FKM in black is the perfect rubber option for the U50. This simple yet effective strap adds some much-needed texture and detail to a watch that is quite flat visually. The Seacroft Waffle uses FKM rubber and comes with buckle holes throughout each side of the strap meaning all wrist sizes will be able to enjoy this one. As you can probably tell by the sheer amount of images the Seacroft FKM fitted to the Sinn, this was my go-to option.
ZULUDIVER Quick Release Sailcloth Waterproof Divers Watch Strap with Red StitchingThis ever-popular strap shows yet again how it can suit pretty much any watch with some tool DNA behind it. You may notice we haven’t put the Sinn on a leather strap. Simply put, the watch suited these equally durable and long-lasting straps far better for my week away with it. The reason why I didn’t wear the watch for smart occasions is the same reason why leather straps feel a bit odd on the U50.
The Vintage Watch Company Military Nylon by Geckota in Admiralty Grey
Considering it is still military nylon season, we felt it was only right to stick one of our newer additions to the range on the U50. Here the Admiralty Grey VWC was the go-to pick thanks to the bold colour scheme of the U50. Although we see no grey on the watch, the blasted case is extremely reminiscent of it as it helps the white and red seen on the dial jump out even more. Who doesn't love a good grey watch strap?
Things we would change on the Sinn U50
As we always do with our watch reviews, we like to highlight aspects of watches that we would change if we could. Not many watches are 100% perfect so in the interest of fairness let’s suggest some changes.
Crown position - Now although I appreciate that a crown at 4 does assist comfort, I always find the slight inconvenience of the awkward position when adjusting the watch outweighing that added comfort. A crown at 3 would always be my preference (unless we’re talking the Cartier Basculante or the Romain Gauthier Logical One, but those are very different watches).I’ve spent a good amount of time with the U50 contemplating desirable changes and I’ll be honest, I've really struggled to come up with anything else. People could comment on the price tag being quite high, but it feels fair when paying for a watch that is as good as bulletproof. Maybe the lack of versatility is another point, but that is not what this watch is about. It’s not trying to look good on an evening out. The U50’ only interest in life is to excel in the field of performance.
Some lasting thoughts of the U50
Soaking wet hikes on the edge of sea cliffs, beach adventures being covered in sand or just more familiar practical day to day tasks, the U50 experienced it all during this fast pace week away - all without missing a beat. It also happened to match that practicality in the looks side of things as well.
This watch isn’t just able to take what you throw at it, the watch actually deserves to be treated in that way. The German stainless steel case that is incredibly scratch resistant deserves to be tested. The designers who spent time deciding on the dial details deserve it. The time and effort Sinn put in to make sure the watch can keep up with challenging lifestyles simply means you have to really use this watch as it was intended for. Yes, if you own this watch you need to use it and not worry about it.Of course, you can get ‘beater’ watches for less, but if you spend more you can get a watch that you won’t have to worry about because of its quality rather than the lower price tag. With the U50 you pay a higher price, but you’ll pay it for the right reasons. It’s one of the first watches that has a noticeable price tag to it that has provided me with such reassurance that it can perform when you really need it to. If you’ve ever looked at Sinn and been impressed with their offerings, you won’t be disappointed with the U50.
The Sinn U50 is now available through the Sinn website starting at 2060€ Euros. We'd like to thank Sinn Spezialuhren for sending the U50 SDR in on loan. To find out more and order your own, click here.