Sinn 556 Review
 

Sinn 556 Review

6 min read
Richard Brown

Brands

Sinn

Categories

Reviews

Richard Brown

Brands

Sinn

Categories

Reviews

Every so often, Sinn gets the accusation of "dated" thrown at it. It's not a fair observation as the company philosophy is based on the adage - if it's not broken, don't fix it. When you handle some of their watches, particularly the 140 Space Chronograph, you can see where the arguments come from because you get the feeling that the watch hasn't evolved in all its years of creation, which is accurate but understandable because the 140 is technically one of the best space chronographs ever flown in Zero-G and outclasses the Omega Speedmaster in almost every way. Yet we laud the Omega.

Sinn556Sinn556 - Credit WatchGecko

There is something gloriously Teutonic about Sinn's philosophy in the same way there is with something like a Mercedes G-Wagen. It is beautifully engineered, rock solid, and hasn't changed its external looks in over 30 years.

From a luxury perspective, Sinn's are not so expensive, with their top-of-the-range model peaking at around the £5000 mark. However, at the entry-level end of the scale, we find the 556 at £1320.

So what do you get, or not, for much less money?

Sinn556Sinn556 - Credit WatchGecko

Sinn made their mark by making dials and chronographs for aircraft, and there is unquestionably an aviation theme cutting through all of their designs. Even with its simple three hands, the 556 looks like it's been lifted straight from the cockpit of a vintage propeller-driven aircraft.

Four 556 designs are available, all of which are a variation on a theme. There are two basic designs, one with batons and one with Arabic numerals and each of those is, in turn, offered with either a white or a red seconds hand. First sight of the watch leaves an overwhelmingly militaristic appearance which could even, at a pinch, slew into the world of field watches. Whilst the pilot DNA is always present, this watch does feel like military-issue outdoor equipment.

Sinn 556Sinn 556

Sinn 556Sinn 556

We tested both examples, one with a super clean, date-free, baton dial and one with a classic white 12-3-6-9 layout and microscopic date window between the 4 and 5 batons. White sword hands stand proud against the dark dial on both models.

When you first handle the watch, the overwhelming impression is of pure engineering. Passing the watch to fellow watch enthusiasts, the reactions were universal: "Beautifully made, but it is a Sinn after all." So, the brand has a reputation, which is odd because you don't often come across people who own them.

Sinn556Sinn556 - Credit WatchGecko

In more detail, the dials are simplistic, so legibility is second to none. The white Super Luminova printing is pinpoint clear, so you can read the dial from across the room or in any light conditions. There is virtually no text besides the company brand name and a small Made in Germany at 6 o'clock on the date variant and Automatik printed on the non-date. The fit and finish are exemplary and belay the lower cost. When you consider other watches you could buy at this price point, we would challenge you to find one that is constructed with this level of expertise and precision.

At just 38.5 millimetres in diameter and a thickness of 11 millimetres, the watch wears small, in fact, smaller than the size would suggest, especially if you take it off the metal bracelet and put it onto a leather or fabric strap. Lurking inside, we find robust anti-magnetic properties and waterproofing (yes, it says waterproof on the case back, not water-resistant ) to 200 metres. 

Sinn556Sinn556 - Credit WatchGecko

The 556 is powered by the venerable Selitta SW-200-1, which is on full view through a crystal display back. It's not the most elaborate movement to look at although you do get a gold embossed rotor, and for a very plain watch, it does bring some technical interest. Does the movement on display clash with the simplistic front? Possibly? This may be a rare case where the watch was better with a solid case back embossed with some navigational or historic aviation engraving. Nevertheless, Sinn has decided to fit a crystal display back and it's always lovely to look at your watch alive.

In a world of increasingly complex watches and pastel colours, there is something gloriously simplistic, almost brutalist, about the Sinn 556. This watch is the paragon of "less is more". It's not a case of style over function because this is a hugely reliable and rugged timepiece. It would be a perfect candidate for your one-stop shop watch, giving you the kudos of a slightly mysterious but high-end brand and the elegant simplicity of a military-style watch that can either be dressed up or down.

Sinn556Sinn556 - Credit WatchGecko

The elephant in the room is bracelet clasps. One subject where Sinn seems to attract some criticism. Yes, the 556 clasp is a very simple fold-over steel one but it is well-executed and solid. Sinn engineers would no doubt say,

"It works, so why change it"?

The 556 will not be to everybody's taste, but it deserves a following due to the sheer bravery of the design and the fact that it does everything so well. Anything you don't like about this watch will purely be personal design preference because, technically and with an eye on capability, you can't fault it - a bit like the Mercedes G-Wagen mentioned above!

Sinn556Sinn556 - Credit WatchGecko

Everyone who had hands-on experience with the 556 had the same impression, and it was fascinating to watch the process. It was a combination of not being that familiar with the brand, initially raised eyebrows at the design, and then a slow falling in love process over the exceptional build quality and functionality culminating in the inevitable "I'd like to own one". If you're looking for an outstanding military or pilot-style watch, the Sinn 556 should definitely be near the top of your consideration list.

We mentioned earlier that the 556 can look very different depending on what strap it's on so here are a few alternates which complemented the simple yet sophisticated look of the watch.

Sinn556 on Endurance Extreme Rubber Watch StrapEndurance Extreme Rubber Watch Strap – Nimrod - £58

Combining two of ZULUDIVER's toughest strap designs into one bullet-proof model seemed like the perfect platform for those in 556. The Endurance Extreme Rubber and Sailcloth Watch Strap has been tried and tested and has proven to be the ideal strap to withstand the extreme elements of the great outdoors.

Available in five colours the Endurance Extreme will be the perfect partner for your tool watch accompanying you across the globe, under the waves or just for a walk through the countryside. We chose the Nimrod grace trap to be the perfect partner for Sinn.

Sinn556 on Ridge NylonWatchGecko Ridge Military Nylon Watch Strap - Green - £24

Overtly military-style watches can easily pull off military straps and the green WatchGecko Ridge Military Nylon and Sinn 556 case is a perfect combo. Designed to stand up to the rigours of active military service, and as it’s made from durable nylon it can keep your watch secure in some of the harshest environments in the world. First created in 1973 for the British Ministry of Defence, the key reason for its creation was the security it offers. Thanks to its one-piece construction, this strap will ensure your watch doesn’t fall off your wrist if a spring bar fails.

Sinn556 on Vintage HighleySinn556 on Vintage Highley

Vintage Highley Genuine Leather Watch Strap – Black - £68

A classic strap for a classic watch. The Vintage Highley was born to fit onto simple tool watches like the Sinn 556.

This strap is very much a staple in the watch Gecko range of leather straps and we don't feature the black variant often enough. It's proven to be incredibly popular among customers and continues to be a top seller. It is thickly padded (6mm thick at the lug end) and made from the very best Italian vegetable-tanned, full-grain leather. The supple pull-up leather is oiled and will age with grace, picking up patina as it's worn. The Highley incorporates quick-release spring bars for easy strap changes.

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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