The Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph Review - A Sub 40mm Chronograph Built To Last

The Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph Review - A Sub 40mm Chronograph Built To Last

8 min read
Tim Vaux




Tim Vaux




10 for 10 Episode 7: Another brilliant offering from Sinn Watches that can survive anything and look great at the same time...

Welcome back to another instalment of 10 for 10. This is a series from WatchGecko that sets out to inform you, the reader of 10 watches branching over 10 different categories that combined offer an extremely versatile, enjoyable and rounded collection. All together coming in at a value less than £10,000. Some watches maybe more expensive, some may be extremely affordable but together they will all come in less than £10,000.

Stay tuned to the blog for regular new episodes as well as our YouTube channel for extended looks at each watch featured.

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph -

The Chronograph Watch

Now, the diving watch was a big one and depending on who you ask, the chronograph is potentially even bigger. At its core, 'a chronograph is an instrument for recording time with great accuracy.'

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph

Over the years, these precise tools have been fairly important for the whole world, let alone just the watch world. The chronograph has worn many hats as well whether it be a racing chronograph for timing a hot lap at the track in the 60s, harnessing a telemetric scale on a military chronograph or it’s for accurately timing 14 seconds to ensure crew members of Apollo 13 successfully make it back through the earth's atmosphere on Apollo 13. The mighty chronograph has been the go-to option for them all.

With that very brief summary of the historical relevance of the chronograph aside, it should come as no surprise to hear there are quite a few different types of chronographs available...

The Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph - what it does

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph -

Introduced over a decade ago, the Sinn 356 Pilots Chronograph has clearly managed to stand the test of time with its classic proportions, high level of build quality & strong origins - that's not even mentioning the watches impressively obtainable price tag. This chronograph is yet another watch in the Sinn line up which further builds on the high reputation its made for itself as a brand which started off making navigational clocks and pilots chronographs back in 1961.

The fully stainless steel case on the 356 comes in with a width of 38.5mm, a lug to lug distance of 45.6mm and a thickness of 15.5mm. These dimensions tell us a lot about the watch straight away however, in the world of watches the dimensions of a watch won't tell us the whole story (more on that later...). Not only is the case well sized it's also complete with a bead-blasted finish, further pandering to core traits of the Sinn brand.

Both a screw down case back and crown contributes to the 356's 100m of water resistance, not essential or even expected on a chronograph, but a welcomed addition nevertheless.

The Sinn 356 fitted with the acrylic crystal option -

The bezel on the 356 is stepped in design, effectively flowing into the domed acrylic crystal on the watch. It's worth noting here the 356 can be fitted with a sapphire crystal if preferred, however, I believe the acrylic once again hits those core Sinn traits. It really plays on those traits, adding another level of character and personality to the watch something which could be easily lost with a sapphire crystal.

This classically elegant chronograph captures your attention with its clean, aesthetic style. There is nothing to distract from the essentials. Everything is designed to ensure accurate reading of various times.

That's a lot of information in a watch just 38.5mm -

Looking through the acrylic, long syringe hands impressively dominate the dial on the watch. These hands work to accurately represent a whole sub-genre of chronograph and once again, hit that Sinn branding brief. Another stand out feature of the watch is the sheer amount of information this watch offers you when wearing it. Excluding the obvious (minutes and hour) at a glance of the wrist the Sinn 356 Chronograph comes with running seconds, chronograph feature (naturally), elapsed minutes counting from 30, elapsed hours, day and date function. Not bad at all for a watch which is sub 40mm.

Each of these subdials are ever so slightly sunken into the dial adding subtle shadowing details, really assisting the definition of each subdial. These features sit on a matt black dial which perfectly contrasts the white Arabic numerals and details on the dial.

Based on the layout of the subdials and addition of the day date function, some of you will be able to predict the movement powering the watch. The SW 500 from Sellita is the automatic engine behind this mechanical timekeeping tool. It’s hard to argue with this popular mechanical movement for the 356, especially when considering the overall cost of the Sinn.

How it wears

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph On Wrist -

The Sinn feels incredibly comfortable on the wrist. The most noticeable feature of the watch for me was that bead blasted stainless steel case. Much like the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical from episode 2, the fully bead blasted approach leaves you with a sense of confidence in the watch, knowing it can take a knock or a scratch and it tends to not leave any visual reminders. The watches width is ideal, any more so and it would lose the charm, wearability and balance.

The Sinn 356 Flieger Fitted To The Vintage Highley Dusty Black

Admittedly there is a lot happening on the dial of the Sinn (The dial is popular real estate for the 356). This may lead you to believe legibility suffers because of this, however, I found quite the opposite. The syringe hands of the watch are very thick and noticeable meaning if you are looking at your watch purely for the time at a glance, the Sinn 356 has no problem delivering that information to you. Each sub-dial and function of the watch is symmetrical and appealing to the eye which once again, assists the legibility.

Sure the 15.5mm thickness is pretty substantial, but I genuinely didn’t find it that noticeable on the wrist, wearing the watch from day to day office wear to relaxing weekends without any hassle.

The Sinn 356 is 15.5mm thick -

One of my favourite parts about this watch is the fact you can clearly see Sinn fully understand what fans of the Sinn brand look for in watches. They understand customers seek a deeper, more hands-on relationship to their watch for example, each link is adjusted by two Allen keys.

Their customers love purposeful construction which is why a bead blasted case strong lume and a screw down crown features.

Drilled lugs feature on the Sinn's case for easy strap changing. And once you strap the watch to your wrist, the last action need is to engage the deployment buckle and fold over that extra lock safety. Top marks to Sinn here for truly understanding what their customers really look for and appreciate in watchmaking.

Time for a replacement watch strap...

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph On Wrist -

The Sinn we received came fitted to the fully bead blasted bracelet, incorporating an H link design. This option really plays on the watches personality and character, another key point which enhances this chronograph over the competition.

Let’s see how we can give the 356 a completely different look…

The Geckota Vintage Highley in Dusty Black

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph Fitted To The Vintage Highley Dusty Black

The Vintage Highley seen here is easily one of our most popular straps. The padding around the top of the strap makes it a brilliant option for watches that are a little thicker than others. Here the new Dusty Black uses Gump leather which has a thin layer of wax to help add some real character.

The Geckota Lenchwick Racing Horween in Brown

The Sinn 356 Flieger Fitted To The Lenchwick Horween

This is a new strap for the Geckota range, and its easily one of my favourite. This superior Horween leather was an easy choice for this strap due to its renowned durability, comfort, refined smoothness and quality. The Dark Brown option combined with the perforations in the strap really compliment the 356’s Flieger origins and DNA.


The Sinn 356 Flieger Fitted To The 141  by ZULUDIVER

Finally, we have a military style strap. The 141 by ZULUDIVER is our most practical, tough military style in the range which is why it only made sense to be the pick of the bunch for the Sinn. Both the satin hardware and green colour pick up on the practical aspects of the 356 to complete not only a vastly different look but also a very appealing one.

What we would improve

So for all of the Sinn's positives, what are some of its negatives? Where does the 356 lose a few marks? Let's take a look...

The deployment buckle on the Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph -

Overall buckle quality - For as impressive, comfortable and relevant the metal bracelet is on the 356, it did lose a few marks for me when it came to the deployment buckle. One thing that is very obvious right from the outset is how heavy this watch is on the bracelet (around 150 grams). However, the thin, stiff and clunky buckle did let the overall bracelet down a little.

Want to change the link? You'll need to use the two Allen keys provided with the Sinn 356 -

Allen key for links - as mentioned previously, this is something that suits the Sinn brand down to a tee. But for me, a simple standard screw link is more than acceptable for modern-day watches. As enjoyable as removing and adding links was on the Sinn, I can see where some people may find this whole process a little time-consuming.

The Sinn 356 is 15.5mm thick -

The thickness - First things first, for a 15.5mm watch the 356 genuinely wears impressively slender on the wrist. However, if the watch shaved a few millimetres of the width and came in around 12-13mm it would make this great watch just that little bit better. The phrase ’splitting hairs’ comes to mind.

See it for yourself

Find out more about the 356 and see the watch hands on in our latest video below…


Why this watch?

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph On Wrist -

A chronograph in a collection for many is a must have. It's up there with one of the most useful complications in horology which, in a world where moon phases, minute repeaters and tourbillons are still popular, the chronograph manages to also remain useful and modern.

This is something I don't see changing any time soon either, the ease and accessibility of being able to instantly set the chronograph off with a click of a pusher is a lot quicker than a pulling an iPhone out of your pocket, let alone navigating an Apple Watch.

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph On Wrist -

The 356 from Sinn embodies not only all things the German brand stands for, but also the chronograph in general. The watch is littered with genuinely useful features and additions all while sitting in a highly wearable and now quite a desirable size. When you consider the 356 can be ordered from Sinn directly for less than £2,000, it doesn't get much better than that...

The Sinn 356 Flieger Chronograph is currently available starting from €1,650 to find out more and explore whole Sinn line up - check out their site here.

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Tim Vaux

About the Author: Tim Vaux

I don't think I can remember a time in my life when watches weren't in my life. I've been writing about watches online for a handful of years now, enjoying every moment of it. I'm passionate about experiencing the world of watches and translating those experiences via articles and images for the wider audience to consume.

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