Lothar Schmidt, the owner and general manager of Sinn must have quite a sense of humor and, dare I say, irony. Why else would his company, best known for making serious tool watches, celebrate a major milestone by taking a steel dial, purposely scratching the shit out of it and sealing it in an otherwise indestructible case? Well, that’s just what they did to mark their 60th year in business.
The Sinn U1 DS is limited to 500 pieces and features a dial that is scratched and a case that can’t be. The U1 series of dive watches already has several variations but the standard U1 has glossy red accents on the hands, dial and bezel. Other variants add blue dials, ivory hands and markers as well as a version with a camouflage dial. The DS does away with all color distractions and puts what they call a Decorative Grinding Dial front and center.
Each of the 500 galvanized steel dials will be uniquely ground by hand and no two will be alike. This is where I have to chuckle because the hand-grinding process takes all of five minutes. While other watch companies boast of dégradé, lacquer, enamel and other complex dial processes, Sinn hands their watchmakers a sharp object and gives them free reign to scratch away.
It’s actually not the first time that Sinn has produced this type of dial. In 2019, Sinn partnered with The Hour Glass, an Asia Pacific watch boutique, on a Sinn 356 chronograph that featured a “distressed” dial using a similar process.
Mechanically speaking, this new offering is standard U1 fare, that is to say, it’s a damn fine dive watch with state of the art metallurgy, 1,000 meter water resistance rating, a signature hand set and robust build quality. Sinn uses submarine steel for the U1 case and crown and they literally buy it by the ton. This type of steel is well-suited for the dive application as it is seawater resistant, totally non-magnetic and very difficult to crack or tear. When combined with Sinn’s tegimenting process (applied to the case, bezel, locking buckle and bracelet), you’ve got a scratch resistant watch that will maintain its rugged good looks in the long run.
There is an obvious duality at play with a scratched up dial inside of a case known for its ability to fend off battle damage. It is somewhat reminiscent of a meteorite dial although the design feels a bit less random due to the human element that produces the grind patterns. Some will like it, some won’t. This is a watch for Sinn collectors as well as those who want a U1 that is a little bit different.
The U1 DS is the first of several new releases that Sinn will introduce in 2021 to commemorate their 60th anniversary. While the case backs are numbered up to 500, there is no other indication that this watch is an anniversary edition. It is available in North America through Sinn’s exclusive distributor, WatchBuys, with initial shipments expected in March, 2021. It sells for $2,850. on bracelet and $2,780. on rubber strap.
Please also check out this episode of Sinn. Time. Talk. about the new U1 DS.
Mark retired in 2018 after 37 years in the financial services industry. He “Discovered” watches in 2015 after seeing a photo of a Steinhart OVM1 in a car forum. Ever since then he’s filled two watch boxes (and is trying to decide between buying a third one or thinning the herd). His additional pastimes include hiking, working on cars, exploring and photographing abandoned military bases.