Historic cockpit clock provides design inspiration for 717 model
16 April 1980 was a Wednesday that will forever be remembered in the history of German military aviation. It was on this historic day that a Panavia PA-200 (P04 prototype) combat aircraft – better known as a ‘Tornado’ – crashed on German soil for the first time. Both test pilots working for the company Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blom died in this tragic accident in Geiselhöring in the district of Straubing.
A Helmut Sinn advert from the 1970s with an image of the NaBo 17 ZM in the centre. As the advert shows, the watchmaker had already equipped a whole range of civil and military aircraft with chronographs by that point.
Sinn Spezialuhren, the renowned Frankfurt-based watchmaker, has recently unveiled an incredible story of resilience and design inspiration. The story revolves around the NaBo 17 ZM, a historic cockpit clock that not only survived a Tornado crash but also played a significant role in shaping the design of Sinn's acclaimed 717 model.
The Tornado, a twin-seat multirole combat aircraft used by the armed forces of Germany, Britain, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, featured two NaBo 17 ZM cockpit clocks, one for the pilot and one for the weapon systems officer. These clocks, supplied by Sinn, boasted a unique central minute counter (ZM), making them exceptionally practical for reading stop times during flights.
The Tornado featured two NaBo 17 ZM cockpit clocks made by Sinn – one for the pilot and one for the weapon systems officer
In a twist of fate, retired lieutenant colonel Volkart Rothweiler, a seasoned pilot with an impressive background, stumbled upon the indestructible NaBo 17 ZM among his saved memorabilia. Recognizing its historical significance, Rothweiler decided to entrust the clock and other belongings to Sinn Spezialuhren, an apt choice due to their extensive expertise in aviation timekeeping.
The NaBo 17 ZM's endurance and historical value served as a wellspring of inspiration for Sinn's 717 model. This cockpit wristwatch features the signature central stopwatch display with large orange hands, housing the revered SINN chronograph movement SZ01. The dial ensures excellent readability, even in low-light conditions, thanks to the sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating.
Technical drawing of the NaBo 17 ZM from 1977.
In 2022, the Sinn 717 model earned two prestigious awards, the iF Design Award and the German Design Award. These accolades recognized the timepiece's exceptional blend of historical significance and contemporary design, combining the functionality of the NaBo 17 ZM with the wearer comfort of a sporty wristwatch.
The cockpit wristwatch won the ‘iF Design Award’ and the ‘German Design Award’ in 2022.
Sinn Spezialuhren's commitment to pilot watches dates back to the 1960s, and the 717 model showcases their unwavering dedication to quality and innovation. The company's journey, spanning decades, culminated in the development of the German timepiece standard DIN 8330 for pilot watches, ensuring functional excellence and reliability during flights.
The story of the NaBo 17 ZM serves as a testament to Sinn Spezialuhren's legacy and pays tribute to the individuals who have shaped the history of aviation timekeeping. For more information about the historic NaBo 17 ZM and the award-winning 717 model, please visit the Sinn Spezialuhren website.
This NaBo 17 ZM survived a Tornado crash on 16 April 1980 unscathed
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