Sinn has launched the R500 — a chronograph tailored for racers and drivers with a design specially made to suit functionality behind the wheel. This might be the most specialised racing watch we have yet seen.
Since the 1950s, the German brand Sinn has produced some of the most effective and pragmatic tool watches. Originally designed to be the perfect pilot’s watches, Sinn products soon spread to other fields including diving with their successful U-series watches. One area, however, which never seemed to be Sinn’s bag was motorsport.
Until now, the key racing watch for Sinn was the 917: a very conventional-looking chronograph with a rotating bezel for the use in rallying. With the new Sinn R500, though, this brand introduces a much more coherent and imaginative racing watch with unique looks, engineering and functionality.
On the face of things, the Sinn R500 is rather a simple product. Housing the sale Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph with a power reserve indicator as the 917, it should be a very similar product. As a result, it has the same specifications with a cam-operated chronograph and tri-compax layout. Still, this is where the similarities end.
In the creation of this watch, Sinn have made their racing watch more unusual in order to add functionality. When holding a steering wheel, it is inevitably easier to push down from the top of a watch than from its side. Consequently, the R500 features a ‘bullhead’ layout with the movement rotated 90° to place the crown and pushers on the exposed upper edge of the near-circular, Grade 5 titanium case. Speaking of the case, this watch is finished in an entirely non-reflective brushed finish whilst the usual Sinn trimmings remain including low-pressure and 200-metre water resistance.
Where dimensions are concerned, this piece is 42mm across with a wedge-shaped profile ranging from 16mm thick at the crown to only 13mm at 6 o’clock. Whilst undeniably peculiar, this profile promises to angle the dial towards the wearer whilst clutching the steering wheel. Topping off the ergonomics is a wide, 24mm lug width which should provide stability when operating the chronograph on the wrist.
Where the dial is concerned, the change of movement orientation has shown an uncommon and rather appealing symmetry available courtesy of the venerable Valjoux 7750. In this configuration, a horizontal tri-compax layout is achieved with a truly beautiful reverse-panda colour configuration. The sub-dials have a delightful, off-white colour and very legible hands and markings. Most pleasingly, one can simply read the chronograph across the dial due to the placement of the date and running seconds — relatively unimportant features on the racetrack — at 6 o’clock. Topping off the arrangement is a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock.
Adding to the functionality, the dial is surrounded by an internal tachymetre which reads to 500 units-per-hour whilst the brushed hands and balance legibility with minimal sub-dial obstruction.
Features aside, the new Sinn R500 is a curious product. Its design clearly fits the stranger end of the spectrum although, in the world of racing, I can see the benefits provided by such a format. With that being said, with its toughness and power reserve, I can see this watch suiting the driver and co-driver of a rally car in, perhaps, the 1980s. After all, Walter Röhrl wore an Omega Speedmaster Mark III.
Consider the Sinn R500 this way: this isn’t the stylish Rolex Daytona or perhaps Chopard which you might see in a Lancia Stratos or 037 but a piece of German engineering at home in the fire-breathing, turbocharged animal which was the Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2.
The price for this new Sinn is, it must be admitted, steep at 3950 euros. Even so, knowing Sinn, the quality will be exceptional and, if actually used for racing, the choice of an easily-serviced movement may be a godsend. This is also a watch offered in only 300 pieces thus adding to the rarity of such a specialised and, I think, desirable product.
Availability: EUR 3,950 in 300 pieces
- Dimensions: 42 mm x 16 – 13 mm
- Material: Grade 5 Titanium
- Crystal: Sapphire Crystal with Internal and External Anti-Reflective Coatings
- Display: Matte Black and Cream ‘Reverse Panda’ dial / Tri-Compax Sub-Dial Layout / Date Window at 6 O’Clock / Power Reserve Indicator at 12 O’Clock / Internal Tachymetre / Luminous Hands & Applied Markers
- Water Resistance: 200 m / 660 ft / 20 ATM (and Low-Pressure Resistant)
- Movement: ETA / Valjoux 7750: Automatic & Manual Winding / Time, Date, Chronograph & Power Reserve / 25 Jewels / Hacking / 4 Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second / 48 Hours / Anti-magnetic as per DIN 8309