One of the perks of my line of work is that I sometimes get to experience watches I wouldn’t have normally sought out. Nacho requested the Sinn 903 for himself to test but found his schedule overfilled with management responsibilities and handed the watch to me. So I strapped on the newly revamped Sinn 903 St II and wore it for about a week. Here is how we got along.

I love these impromptu hands-on sessions as I tend to approach them with more of an open mind. Of course, our job is always to be as neutral as possible. Still, when we request certain watches for ourselves, it is usually because we already have some positive or negative feelings about them. In the case of this particular style of watch, it kind of lives outside of my field of view, so this was a great opportunity to learn something new.

Sinn 903 St II pocket shot

The newly revamped Sinn 903 St II

Sinn has produced this style of watch for 45 years now, but we’ll get into more about the model’s history later. This year, 2024, sees a major update from the 903 St to 903 St II. At a glance, you might mistake this for the previous model. Indeed, aesthetically, much has remained the same. Still, the updates (and upgrades) are significant.

The old Sinn 903 St B E

Most noticeably, the rotating slide-rule bezel is no longer operated via a crown at 10 o’clock. The wearer can now utilize it simply by turning the bezel. The crown at 10 was characteristic of the Sinn 903, but now it makes way for a sleeker overall appearance. Sticking with the case for a moment, it sees its water resistance upped from 100 meters to an over-specced 200 meters.

Another instantly noticeable update is the use of applied solid ceramic lume indices on the dial. There are eight stick markers and the numeral “12” around the chronograph’s three sub-dials. I am happy to report the lume is super bright. This is the kind of lume you already see glowing ghostly greenish before you have even moved out of the light. Speaking of applied dial features, the Sinn logo is now also applied.

Other Sinn 903 St II specifications

You know I love to downplay the importance of specs, but come on; this is a Sinn! This is all about the specs, so indulge me, will you? What you get here is an automatic chronograph with a 41mm diameter. This is paired with a 14.5mm thickness and 48.1mm lug-to-lug. There is a mildly domed sapphire crystal up top and another sapphire window in the screw-in case back. The crown is of the screw-down variety. As mentioned, Sinn manages to provide water resistance to a whopping 200 meters.

Inside ticks the La Joux-Perret L110, a chronograph caliber boasting a column wheel. This Valjoux 7750-derived movement beats away at 28,800vph and has a healthy power reserve of 60 hours. It provides the Sinn 903 St II with running seconds at 9 o’clock, a minute counter at 3, and an hour counter at 6. Additionally, there is a date between 4 and 5 o’clock with a disc neatly matching the color of the dial.

Speaking of the dial, you get to choose between the black sunburst you see here or a matte blue (903 ST B E II). There was a limited pale blue version as well, but that one already sold out. As always with Sinn, you get to choose from a ton of strap and bracelet options. My review unit came on a black leather strap with red stitching. Admittedly, this is my least favorite strap from Sinn, so I wore it on a brown suede strap.

Sinn 903 St II lume blocks

The Sinn 903 and the Navitimer connection

Now, I have to address the elephant in the room. You may find yourself reading all the above while constantly thinking, “All well and good, but it looks like a Navitimer!” And you would be right. This is a little bit more than a straight homage, though.

The Breitling Navitimer first hit the market in 1954, but Sinn didn’t get involved until the late ’70s. Breitling struggled during the Quartz Crisis and, as a result, closed part of its operations and sold off rights to designs and even parts in 1979. The rights to the Navitimer design (and some parts for it) were acquired by Helmut Sinn. The Navitimer name remained under the ownership of Sicura, but Sinn could now start building its version under another name, the 903. The brand has done so for 45 years now.

I am not 100% sure what I make of this. On one hand, at the time, it looked as if Sinn would save the Navitimer, which is great. On the other hand, this doesn’t solve the issues I have with homage watches in terms of a company’s creativity and originality. Owning the rights doesn’t make it one’s creative effort. To me, this watch shows how fine the line can be once you have entered a certain realm of dedicated enthusiasm about a field. I am not taking a stance here; I am merely expressing that I honestly don’t know what I think of it.

Sinn 903 St II wrist shot

Wearing the Sinn 903 St II

With that out of the way, let’s get back to the watch itself. I am happy to report the Sinn 903 St II wears extremely well. Its dimensions, specifically the 14.5mm thickness and 22mm lug spacing, suggest this is a big watch. I found this to be untrue. Yes, it has a commanding presence on my 17.5cm wrist, but it’s not overpowering. In fact, I wouldn’t make it any smaller if I could. Thinner? Maybe. But I can surely live with it as is.

What I love about this watch is its build quality. As we now expect from Sinn, it feels solid as a rock. The German brand is known for over-engineering its watches, and you can feel it. Sadly, watches this solid are getting rarer in the sub-€5K segment. It is great to see Sinn fully uphold these standards while remaining competitive.

I found the black version to be extremely versatile. Yes, it is a chunky sports watch. However, its classical styling gives it some formal appeal as well. I can truly see this as a “one-watch collection’ for people infatuated with the style.

Buying advice: Sinn 903 St II versus Breitling Navitimer

The 903 and the Navitimer, as similar as they are, aren’t playing the same game. Which one is right for you depends entirely on your preferences and priorities. Allow me to elaborate.

The Sinn is by far the better value proposition and much easier to defend from a rational perspective. It saves a ton of money on its ébauche caliber, which is easier and cheaper to service to boot. Yet it also offers a build that rivals the Breitling’s and trumps it on specifics like water resistance. The price gap — the Sinn is just over a third of the price — is significant, to put it mildly.

So why do I feel the Breitling still has its place? I will skip the movement, which you could also use as an argument, and jump straight to design. The Breitling has a significantly more refined design, especially when it comes to the dial. The placement of all the different elements, use of negative space, and visual hierarchy are just of a higher level. The Sinn’s dial, although beautifully made, isn’t as refined in design. I am a fan of ceramic lume, for instance, but it looks a little out of place on this more classical dial. The numerical “12” also bothers me because the red tip of the chronograph hand sits right on top, making it look messy. Add to this the historical significance of the Navitimer, and you have a solid alternative offering to this. I will let you be the judge of how much all of this matters to you, but I, for one, am happy that both watches exist.

Sinn 903 St II

Closing thoughts

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the Sinn 903 St II. My week with it confirmed that it isn’t exactly my style, but I certainly have warmed up to it. There is no denying that this watch just makes a ton of sense. Except for some minor aesthetic quibbles, I cannot fault the 903 St II in any significant way. It is built supremely well around a reliable and easy-to-run movement. This is a very compelling offering, especially if you consider the quality at the price.

I may have been unfair in focusing on the Navitimer connection so much. These two watches truly do operate in different segments, targeted at different audiences. Still, if you love the style, the choice between a secondhand Navitimer and a new Sinn 903 can be challenging. I admit I could not tell you which I would pick. The purist in me favors the Breitling, but the Sinn is just so well made that it is hard to ignore. Luckily for me, I am not in the market!

The Sinn 903 ST II is priced at €3,250 on a basic leather strap and goes up to €3,550 on a steel bracelet.

What do you think of the new Sinn 903 St II? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch specifications

903 St II
Black sunburst with silver sub-dials, applied ceramic Super-LumiNova indices, and date window
Case Material
Stainless steel with polished and satin finishes
Case Dimensions
41mm (diameter) × 48.1mm (lug-to-lug) × 14.5mm (thickness)
Sapphire with antireflective coating on both sides
Case Back
Stainless steel and sapphire crystal with antireflective coating on underside, screw-in
La Joux-Perret L110: automatic chronograph with manual winding and hacking, 28,800vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve, 26 jewels, column wheel
Water Resistance
20 bar (200 meters), also resistant to low pressure
Available on a wide range of leather, canvas, textile, or silicone straps or stainless steel five-row bracelet, 22mm width
Time (hours, minutes, small seconds), chronograph (12-hour and 30-minute counters, central seconds), date, slide rule bezel with logarithmic scale
Two years