We’ve covered Sinn plenty in the past, so most of our readers already know the spiel when it comes to this German favorite. But outside of their line of rugged over-engineered mechanical wonders, Sinn is also known for producing some fantastic low-tech entry-level watches like the 556, the recent 104, and the discontinued 656. Most who handle these timepieces would agree that their level of finish puts other brands selling similarly priced watches to shame.
However, none of these hold a candle to my favorite timepiece in their more affordable line-up, the Sinn 356 PILOT chronograph. In many ways, the 356 is everything one could hope for in a military-inspired tool watch, which shouldn’t come as a shock since the design is reminiscent of a pilot chronograph favorite, the IWC 3706. There are a number of variants in the 356 line: the 356 Sa with sapphire crystal, the 356 PILOT UTC with, you guessed it, a UTC complication, the 356 Sa GR with power reserve indicator, and the 356 Sa PILOT II with a copper dial.
There is also the 358 series, featuring a larger 42mm case for those with heartier wrists. But I’m a traditionalist when it comes to the 356, and I believe that the basic model is perfect in both form and function. Sinn obviously agrees, or else they wouldn’t have made the 356 a staple in their collection after initially releasing the Sinn 356 SPEZIALEDITION as a Japanese limited edition in 1996. So let’s get to the nitty gritty, shall well?
*Note: The 356 featured in these photographs is my own and is my most worn watch. As such, it has a number of dings and scratches.
That is a great looking watch. It is nice to see you do a review on a piece from your personal collection. I would like to see you do more of that.
On top of that Sinn is a brand I have always been intrigued by and it is nice to learn some more about their brand.
Agreed. Please review more personal pieces!
I’m glad you enjoyed the review. Both the Halios Tropik B and the Stowa Antea KS I reviewed for W&W are from my personal collection, so check them out if you’re into either of those pieces. They’re fantastic watches.
I would love to see a comparison of the 356 to the Damasko DA56.
I finally bought myself a 103 St Sa chronograph four years ago after lusting after it for six years, and I was impressed at how much bang-for-buck this watch offered compared to the IWC 3706 Pilot’s chrono. Sure the 3706 was COSC-rated, but that didn’t justify the more-than-double the price of the 103. And the Sinn offered 200m water resistance and screw-down pushers. Sinn is definitely a brand to be reckoned with and definitely underrated among some watch collectors that I’ve known.
Great write-up and photos, as usual!
One of my favourite pieces. For one reason or another, it has aways eluded my grasp. Perhaps it’s time to look more seriously into acquiring one…
Just thought I’d mention I ended up buying a 103 st with acrylic after seeing the one on your website with the black leather nato. I got it on the bracelet which has polished center links. I remember trying on either a 356 or 358 and it was a lot heavier than the 103, I wonder why. The 103 won against stiff competition including a preowned breguet type xx, says it all! I got a recent model and there is lume on the hour indexes as well which is a nice touch. Love it, highly recommended as written many times here.
this probably pushed me over the edge on the 356
103 or 356?
Great review on a beautiful watch! While it might be their entry level watch, it’s still on the expensive side (at least for me as a beginner collector). Is there anything you can recommend that may be similar in look/size/function in the $500-750 range? Thanks!
I’ve seen some Ollech and Wajs that might fit the bill. But if you can, save for a bit and pick one up second hand. Someone is selling a 103 for a little over 1K right now, so it’s definitely possible to find some reasonably priced Sinns.
Great review. Being a Sinn 356 owner myself I am thrilled to see some coverage and really beautiful photography on this watch.
Thanks for the in-depth review. The 356 has always been on my radar. Much appreciated. BTW…may I ask where did you get that riveted strap? It’s stellar.
Ther strap is actually the stowa flieger strap. One of my favorite straps on the market for pilot watches.
Nice write up and great pics! I recently purchased a 356 sa as my first real watch and I love it. It really shines as a casual watch. In my opinion, the finish on the case is probably a bit too dull to wear with a suit… but I wear it anyway. What can I say, I like the watch.
Are the utc versions of these not being made anymore? They aren’t on their website.
Really nice watch! I see that you have English days on your 356. Most of the 356 watches I have seen in Europe have German days. Does the 356 come with both languages or do you have to specify the language when you buy it?
The watch has drilled-through lugs so it’s a relatively simply process to swap out the strap/bracelet. The links are also held together with one sided screws, so they’re easy to remove. Sometimes, the factory will put thread locker on the screws, so my suggestion would be to run that part of the bracelet under warm water to loosen up the glue. And no, thread locker really isn’t necessary. It’s a precaution, but one that is overkill IMO.
IIya, Awesome review, I really enjoyed it.. Where can I get that leather strap band used in the photos?
Very tempting. What does the group think: Sinn 356 or the ORIS Big Crown ProPilot Chronograph?
I just notified Watchbuys about the movements that are currently being used in the acrylic crystal/solid case back versions of the 356 and 358. Here are my findings after a quick chat with their representative:
The Sinn 356 with acrylic crystal uses a Chronometer Grade SW-500. The Sinn 358 with acrylic crystal uses a Top Grade Valjoux 7750.
(But remember that 30% of movements labelled Valjoux 7750 are built by Sellita.)
I remember the good old days when I bought these all day long at $600 and Sinn 156 for $1100 brand new.
Godd*m, that is a good-looking watch! I came back to re-read Ilya’s review after seeing the photo of it again on W&W “Most Worn Watches of 2017” article. I also tried this on for the very first time at the San Francisco WatchBuys show this past October, and I just completely fell for it. Having tried it on, I just cannot get this watch out of my mind….*loved* it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/439414ba340637f1b4110663a19fbec9683e17fdeef28c0e1aa004ee02157e18.jpg