Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at the battle of the ages – the Sinn 903 vs the Breitling Navitimer.
Some quick history for those not in the know – at the height of the quartz crisis, Mr. Helmut Sinn (gee, I wonder which company he was in charge of) secured the rights from Breitling to produce a watch with a slide rule, logarithmic bezel that also functioned as a chronograph. Since it seemed as though everyone was hurting for money, Breitling offered up the design for some unspecified price and, just like that, the Sinn 903 was born.
The Breitling is indisputably the “better” watch. The B01 movement is just a total powerhouse of movement mechanics, with a 70-hour power reserve and vertical clutch (a mechanism designed to improve efficiency and, moreover, make for a smoother chronograph operation). Tudor even borrowed it from Breitling for the Black Bay Chronograph. It’s also a pain to service without sending it back to Breitling, and this is where the scale starts to balance.
The Sinn is powered by a Sellita movement which, though certainly not “in-house” by any means, is undoubtedly the more common movement, meaning it’s easier to service. Any decent watchmaker can take care of one of these things, and parts run rampant for them. Now, okay, $3500 (give or take) for a Sellita movement seems like a lot, but really, Tag does the same thing with Sellita and ETA movements (or did, at least, for a really long time), so for Sinn to do the same thing isn’t entirely out of left field.
Breitling Navitimer GMT
On design, there is a debate to be had. On one hand the Sinn is technically truer to the origins of the Navitimer. It’s a tool watch, fundamentally, with no pomp and circumstance, extra complications, or extraneous design choices – it’s a pure, unadulterated pilot watch. On the other hand, much like dive watches today are more likely to see the inside of an office than a submarine, pilot watches are only likely to find themselves airborne if you just so happen to be wearing one while taking a flight on your way to your jealousy-inducing Cancun vacation. It’s no longer a fundamental tool in its most common applications, and as such, I will always have a soft spot for one in rose gold with a moon phase and other complications that would render it useless as a tool.
Verdict: The Sinn’s design is more true to what the Navitimer should be, but what the Navitimer should be isn’t as thoroughly essential as it used to be. That, and I just can’t get past that damn extra pusher at the 10 o’clock position. It bugs my OCD to such an extent that I simply can’t overlook it, but if not for that, I’d probably be saving my way up to one of these as we speak.
Finally, size – the Sinn comes in at 41mm, while the Breitling comes in, typically, at 43mm. “But it’s only two millimeters!” I hear you saying. Yes, yes it is, but that two millimeters adds up pretty quickly when it comes to wrist real estate. Now, 43mm is not overly large, especially with modern standards, but it’s just not quite as versatile as 41mm. That being said, it’s important to wear the size you’re the most comfortable wearing and, if that size is 43mm instead of 41, then rock it, just as long as you remember to keep it classy, watchfam.
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