Monday, January 17, 2011


Anyone who's been following my delicious feed knows I've recently become slightly obsessed with watches. Specifically: mechanical watches, the kind that are powered by stored kinetic energy (potential energy?) and don't require a battery to tick the minutes by.

So after a lot of research, and a lot of obsession, I bought myself a Sinn 756s UTC. I've been eyeing it for some time (it's one of my earliest posts on Svpply). I'm in love with it.


Founded in 1961, Sinn has been
since owned by
Lothar Schmidt of Porsche Design,
 IWC and A. Lange & Söhne.
Sinn is a relatively unknown German watch brand located in Frankfurt, and is known for tool/instrument watches and advancing case technology. For example, they've got a range of watches that are filled with oil to prevent damage from deep-dive compressive forces. Intense. More on that later. They've got about 70 employees and manufacture around 14,000 watches every year, primarily using Swiss ETA movements, with a range from around 600-20,000 euro in price.

Fascinating aside: many of the mid- to high-range mechanical watches sold every year use an off-the-shelf movement from ETA or modify an ETA base to match their specifications. Much of the industry has standardized on their internals, though a few stalwart manufacturers (notably Rolex, Panerai and IWC in the imaginably affordable range) still build their own movements from scratch. I suppose this is similar in nature to Mac using Intel processors, but I didn't expect that level of standardization in such a pricey category that prizes handmade/artisanal values. Anyway.

My watch

My particular watch contains an ETA Valjoux 7750, running at 28,800 beats per minute, parts of which are shown in the above. It's apparently quite reliable. Which is good, because the case of the 756 is a beast and should be damn near apocalypse ready: the stainless-steel case has been hardened to 1,200 Vickers, is pressure-resistant to 200 meters, and includes a soft-iron case around the movement to prevent it from being affected by magnetic forces.

The case is 40mm wide and 14mm tall and there's a little removable capsule of copper sulfate crystals that absorb moisture, prolonging the life of the lubricating oil and keeping the crystal fog-free. It'll play well with leather bands, and is offered on a bracelet. I'm thinking about swapping in a nylon strap, or a custom Horween job as below. Photos to come if that happens.

Left: with Horween strap, a one-off DIAPAL model, uses low friction elements in the movement to eliminate the need for lubrication.
Right: with nylon strap, also not mine.
In any case, no matter the specs, it's designed to take some abuse. Which I like.
Generally speaking, though, I love that as a designed artifact, it's all about purpose.
  • It's heavy because steel and soft iron are dense materials.
  • The numerals are huge to make them instantly legible.
  • The hands are sword-shaped, to give them width for visibility and a fine point for accuracy.
  • The second time-zone hand is yellow and open to distinguish it from the normal hour hand.
It's perfect for me, and that's that.

**Editor's note**
Clay is a digital strategist and ping pong paddle craftsman extraordinaire. As a co-worker and friend, he's been a great influence and trusted advisor in getting this blog off the ground for which I thank him very much. If you enjoy this I strongly suggest you follow his blog and Tweets for more good stuff. - M

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