While many luxury watch brands market themselves as the preferred timepiece of divers, pilots or professional explorers, German company Sinn keeps itself quiet. While it is the choice for many seasoned adventurers, the company is uncommonly restrained, making it the insider’s accessory.
Sinn watches have long been distributed solely by direct sales – today around 70 German jewellers sell them but still a third of all domestic customers travel to the company’s headquarters in Frankfurt am Main to tour of the workshops before de- ciding on a model. This is one reason why the brand is still not recognised outside Ger- many – only 40 per cent of sales come from exports.
The company was founded in 1961 by pilot and flight instructor Helmut Sinn. His professional connections – as well as the attractive pricing made possible by bypassing traditional retailers – made Sinn watches popular among pilots. In 1994 Sinn sold the company to Lothar Schmidt, an engineer who had worked for IWC and A. Lange&Söhne.
Under Schmidt, Sinn became an engineer’s brand with many new innovations inspired by the demands of its professional customers. Some Sinn watches, for example, replace the air inside the mechanism with a gas to keep moisture out and prevent the glass from filming over. Others are filled with silicon-oil to keep them waterproof even at depths of 12,000m and Sinn divers’ watches are made from German submarine-steel.
Fortunately, all this tech- nological tinkering doesn’t come at the expense of good looks – with minimalist pro- files and black faces, a Sinn watch looks refreshingly understated and elegant. “We don’t design watches to look
appealing but to be easy to read,” says spokesperson Simone Richter. Since Sinn never compromised for the Russian or Asian markets, sales have been steadily growing with expansion in Germany making up for losses overseas.
Today, the company’s 70 staff produce 12,000 to 14,000 watches a year with an entry price of €600 and reaching €20,000. “We are bigger than the small brands, but smaller than the big ones,” smiles Richter. This is a com- fortable position for Sinn to occupy, allowing it to concen- trate on their core values – solid German engineering and constant improvement of the product.