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Rover Haven is a maker of custom shell cordovan watch straps. 

Sinn 156 -- A Modern Classic finally lands at Rover Haven.

The Rover Haven Blog

Sinn 156 -- A Modern Classic finally lands at Rover Haven.

Myron Erickson

If you are a watch person, and it seems likely that you are, then there's a good chance that you can think of at least one watch that's always out there for you.  This is the watch you've always wanted, always known you've needed, but for some reason has always eluded you.  And I'm not referring to that watch that's just plain too expensive.  We can all think of a watch we'd love to own if only it didn't cost $10,000.  No, I am referring to the watch that's within reach but always eludes your grasp either because when it reveals itself you're broke or, if you do have a little cash to spend, there are none, literally none, available anywhere on the planet.  For me this watch was the Sinn 156.  I finally caught up with one, however, so I thought I'd write a post about it and share with Sinn fans and watch fans everywhere how enjoyable this watch is.  

A close up of the superb 156 dial.  Color-coded chronograph hands in action, reading 1:40:20.

A close up of the superb 156 dial.  Color-coded chronograph hands in action, reading 1:40:20.

Regular readers will know we at Rover Haven are big Sinn fans.  My first Sinn was an 856 UTC.  I still have this watch and love it; it is a daily driver for me.  I followed this up with a 356 Sa UTC, a watch that had gem-like qualities but ultimately the smaller size, or the perceived need to downsize the collection, or the distraction of some other shiny object caused me to sell it.  I'm still good friends with the gentleman who bought it, however, so I guess that was its role in my life.  An 8826 Ti followed, one of the watches from Herr Sinn's personal collection allegedly, and a beautifully built little watch with a great vintage vibe.  I never really felt the Helmut Sinn aura that I unrealistically expected from it though, and so it didn't last with me either.  

Far from quenching the fire, my various Sinn dalliances made the 156's siren call all the louder.  Numerous opportunities presented themselves, but for one reason or another the time was never right.  At some point I picked up a 103 Ti Ar, perhaps the quintessential Sinn chronograph and a watch I love to this day.  Then came a modern piece, the EZM-13, a brilliant chunk of engineering and performance.  Seriously, did you realize the case of the EZM-13 has 500 m of water resistance and that you can operate the pushers underwater?  Its 60-minute chronograph is perfect for the odd athletic endeavor involving water. 

The Hamilton 156/Bund-alikes.  If you know a reference number for these watches, please get in touch!

The Hamilton 156/Bund-alikes.  If you know a reference number for these watches, please get in touch!

And then I lucked into the Hamilton Bund-alike twins, just a few months apart.  The black-dialed Hamilton is the separated-at-birth twin of the 156, so it became a lot harder to justify a 156.  Still though, other 156 opportunities came and went and I thought I had found just the right watch when a NOS specimen came up for sale.  I sent the seller the funds immediately, but on the day he promised to ship he wrote to say that although he felt terrible about it, he had decided to keep it.  About a month later he ended up selling it, of course, and offered me the right of first refusal but the thing felt tainted to me so I passed.  

The Hamilton 156/Bund-alike and the Sinn 156.  Twins separated at birth?

The Hamilton 156/Bund-alike and the Sinn 156.  Twins separated at birth?

Then came the Sinn chronograph to end all Sinn chronographs, which is actually a Heuer.  The 1550 SG came into my life and with it a new pen pal in Germany.  For details on this incredible watch see my previous blog post.  It is a fantastic watch; the One Sinn to rule them all, the One Sinn to find them, the One Sinn to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.  

A Seuer?  A Hinn?  Better just stick with 1550 SG Bundeswehr. 

A Seuer?  A Hinn?  Better just stick with 1550 SG Bundeswehr. 

My new friend in Germany who located the 1550 SG for me wrote one day to say that he'd been visiting a friend of his, a master watchmaker at Sinn and major collector himself, and that this friend of his was selling his 156.  He described the watch as virtually NOS, perfect in every way.  Was I interested?  My first thought was "At last!  A call!  A cry of distress!  This could be the sign that leads us to the Holy Grail!"  Ok, it wasn't really a cry of distress, but it did seem like finally the time might be right.  

Some people might call this dial "busy," and I guess it is.  In the same way that a Saturn V rocket is "technical."

Some people might call this dial "busy," and I guess it is.  In the same way that a Saturn V rocket is "technical."

My friend in Germany sent me three video postcards of the watch, and it was amazing.  Just as he had said, the watch was almost perfect.  It looked like it had never been worn and came complete with its unworn bracelet, box, and strap changing tool.  In fact the watch was so nice that he said he was just going to go ahead and buy it from his watchmaker friend and if I wanted it I could buy it from him although I was under no obligation to do so.  

A clean caseback in the later style.  The 156 came with several caseback styles across its 20-odd years of production. 

A clean caseback in the later style.  The 156 came with several caseback styles across its 20-odd years of production. 

So I committed to the watch, of course, and then waited impatiently for transatlantic shipping.  The 156 arrived in 7 days and was everything my friend had suggested it was, but unfortunately it stopped running after only a couple hours on my wrist.  Hardly worried, I took it to my own watchmaker who diagnosed hardus knockae transitum.  Not a watch doctor?  In lay terms, the poor watch must have received a nasty shock in shipping, but whatever jeweled assembly was out of alignment was quickly remedied and $30 later I was on my way.  

Viewed from any angle, this watch is design perfection. 

Viewed from any angle, this watch is design perfection. 

Signed crown.  Note also the drilled-thru lugs, enabling the use of shoulderless spring bars.  Very secure. 

Signed crown.  Note also the drilled-thru lugs, enabling the use of shoulderless spring bars.  Very secure. 

One of my pet peeves is little blogs restating what the big bloggers have already told us all (and hence what you probably already know).  I will therefore spare you the details of what makes a Lemania 5100 so technically different compared to other more conventional chronograph movements like the Valjoux 7750.  Rather, let's say you're taking your dogs for a run.  As you round the last turn before home and are beginning to wonder how cold that beer you put in the freezer before leaving has gotten, you glance down at the Sinn 156 on your wrist.  Even at a good pace and with the chaos of managing your dogs while running, the dial is instantly readable thanks to the full-dial chronograph minutes hand.  Now you realize with horror that you've been running 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 20 seconds, long enough to freeze a beer, so you kick in the overdrive, all that's left anyway, to liberate the beer from its zero degree prison in time.  See how useful a good chronograph is?  

So now I have my elusive mini-grail.  No longer can shiny new things distract me, and the group of other Sinns feels a little more complete.  Logically, an EZM-1 should be next, but maybe to shake things up a little my next Sinn chronograph might have to be a 956 or a 903.  Time will tell, but if I materialize the Ring Lore in Sinn chronographs, I'm in for a fun ride... Thanks for reading! 

The Hamilton 156/Bund-alike, Sinn 156, Sinn 103 Ti Ar, and Heuer/Sinn 1550 SG.  A great set. 

The Hamilton 156/Bund-alike, Sinn 156, Sinn 103 Ti Ar, and Heuer/Sinn 1550 SG.  A great set.