If after looking at our Gallery of Sinn and our review of the Sinn 103 ST, you are not craving a Sinn chronograph with military roots, then either you have a great collection or very odd taste. Luckily, there is another option out there for those who love the Sinn aesthetic. The original Sinn aesthetic that is, which is to say the one created by Sinn’s founder, Helmut Sinn. After leaving Sinn in 1994, Helmut did not stop making watches. In fact, in 1996 he took over Guinand, a brand and manufacturer that formerly had made all Sinn watches, which he ran until 2006, when he, at the age of 90, finally handed over the reigns.
But here’s the best part: Guinand not only produces watches that any Sinn-ophile will drool over, they do so at remarkably low prices. It was always Helmut’s intention of selling watches directly and not inflating their prices with any unnecessary marketing, distributing or what he would deem as superfluous tech…and clearly, from the look of the website, web design… What you have in the end is a line of straightforward watches, ranging from pilot chronographs to dressier manual winds, that too are part of Helmut Sinn’s watch legacy. There are also a few surprises offered, such as a very unique five time zone watch, discussed later, and a pricier chronograph that is powered by a Buren 12 movement.
Perhaps the most tempting watches that Guinand offers, in terms of both price and aesthetic, are their Valjoux powered chronographs, all of which are available with a plethora of options. First there are the Series 20 + 21’s, which have 38.4mm steel cases, making them about the same size as the Heuer/Sinn Bundeswehrs, and a remarkable starting price of 860 EUR…which to a US customer, after removing the VAT, comes to around $900. For a larger model more reminiscent of the Sinn 103, there are the Series 40 + 41 models. Featuring a 40.6mm case and bold lugs, this is definitely a more modern option. These ones start at 1,080 EUR or about $1,100 – VAT. Lastly, is the barrel-cased series 60, which goes for 960 EUR or about $1000. No matter what option, you will be getting a Helmut Sinn designed chronograph that definitely has the feeling of the older era Sinn watches. For more reading and some much nicer photos check out these posts: Gallery of a custom Series 40 & Series 40 review and gallery & Photo of a series 60
Guinand also has a handful of 3-hand watches available, most notably are their Series 31 watches, which feature the Caliber HS 81. The first interesting thing is the movement. The HS 81 (HS for Helmut Sinn) is a modified Unitas manual movement with central seconds. Unitas 6498’s and 6497’s typically feature sub-seconds at 6 or 9, making this unique. While a modified Unitas is not that unheard of, it does add to the overall appeal of the watches. The Series 31’s are available in many different variations, from classic pilots to brightly colored aviators (sort of) to a few dress options. 31’s start at 1130 EUR or about $1,200 – VAT, making them more expensive than the chronos, but that is likely do to the movement.
Easily the most unique offering from Guinand would be the WZU-5, five time zone watch. Typically, multiple time zone watches, GMTs or UTCs employ a second hand to track a second time zone. For a third time zone, the use of a 24-hr bezel usually comes into play. Time zones beyond three, however, get tricky. The WZU-5 displays 5 time zones by employing 5 dials. While this is an obvious and very simple solution, it takes a specially developed movement to do so, as only 1 movement powers the whole watch. Each sub-dial then has its own crown. The movement is a variant on their in house caliber called the HS 81 WZ. Though this is watch that would most strongly appeal to people who need to be aware of multiple time zones, the solution and design are both elegant and appealing. It actually looks like a watch you would want to wear, mixing formal and pilot elements with a hint of a retro aesthetic. You are also given the option of labeling each sub-dial with your choice of name…so they could be the names of all of the cities your empire has offices in, or they could be the name of your 4 kids, who now live all over the world. It should be no surprise that the WZU-5 carries a higher price tag, starting at 2,435 EUR or about $2,500 – VAT.
One very quirky thing about Guinand that you should be aware of is that they have an ordering process that hearkens to the pre-internet era. Or, more to the point, to Sinn’s desire to sell watches directly and in person. To order a watch, you have to print and fill out a form, fax or mail(!!!) it in, wait for confirmation by mail, and then pay by bank transfer. The upside is that it appears as though you can request custom features, such as red hands or white dials. Needless to say, you wont have your watch in a week from placing your order, but given the look and prices of the chronographs, it might be a necessary inconvenience.
by Zach Weiss