Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer
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  1. #1
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    Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    Has anyone owned both the 903 and the Breitling Navitimer?

    If so how would you compare them? Does the Sinn hold up well against the Breitling in terms of fit and finish? Is the Breitling worth all that extra money?

    I'm seriously considering purchasing a 903 new (none available used at the moment)
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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    There is a lot of shared history here and both have their merits and fans. The newer Navis have the in house movement while the 903 has a tried and true "pedestrian" movement of that matters to you. I have seen a version of the 903 with blue dial which is drop dead gorgeous and I would get in a second! Plus, it is less money than the Navitimer. You can't go wrong with either.


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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    I had Sinn 903 and it is a beautiful watch with a great finish (dial is especialy beautiful) and it has more WR than Navitimer.

    On the negative side - while outer design is similar to Navitimer, slide rule is operated using crown at 10 'o clock position.
    While this is good regarding greater WR, slide rule is unusable while wearing 903 on the wrist. It was a deal breaker for me.

    So, for me, if you are a Breitling fan - Navitimer is a way to go.

    Edit: The following claim I made is highly unlikely so I appologize for making it without checking the source:
    BTW it is interesting to note that Sinn has rights on Navitimer design (bought when Breitling was closing down) so Sinn is entitled to collect a percent on every Navitimer that leaves factory.
    Last edited by Hunterfate; June 2nd, 2016 at 09:33. Reason: Correcting the unsupported claim
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    Member CastorTroy3's Avatar
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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunterfate View Post
    BTW it is interesting to note that Sinn has rights on Navitimer design (bought when Breitling was closing down) so Sinn is entitled to collect a percent on every Navitimer that leaves factory.
    I don't know this to be true or false but I find it unlikely that this is still the case. Sinn acquired the Breitling design patents in the 70s and I beleive that design patents are only good for 25 years. As such I have to believe these patents are long expired. No one pays Rolex for Sub-like designs so why would Breitling have to pay Sinn or vice versa. I do believe that the life of trAde names (I.e. Navitimer) is indefinite and that is why Sinn doesn't refer to the 903 as a Navitimer rather it is a Navigational Chronograpgh.

    Now back lack to the topic. This is an interesting discussion and it would be nice to hear some first hand responses. I actually struggled with the same question when I was purchasing my Navitimer as well. It's well known that Breitling spends a ton on advertising and it's clear that the advertising dollars spent per watch manufacturer end is likely more then every other watch manufacturer. Sinn is also pretty well respected on the quality front. On this sight I would venture to say it is praised way more than Breitling. Ultimately, I looked at the Breitling in the metal and was wowed and was unsure whether the Sinn would give me the same wow factor as the Breitling. Looking at the two in pictures it seems that there are some little details that I like more about the Breitling like the option for no Arabic numbers, the black window dials, the more fluted dial, Hyde differences in polishing, the quality of AR, and the additional slide rule pusher. If I had the chance to see the Sinn in person I may well have ended up With a Sinn. Without ever seeing the Sinn I can say I'm one happy Navitime owner.
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  5. #5
    Member Hunterfate's Avatar
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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    OK, now the discussion is going further, here are my other arguments on Navitimer vs 903 while I was holding them in my hands (never owned Navitimer, it was from another forum member in Croatia):
    - ETA 7750 modified Sinn has different proportion of subdials - they are smaller and more apart than on Navi - one point for Navi
    - 903 is a little thicker and not always comfortable on (my) wrist - another point for Navi
    - I love Breitling wings on the dial
    - Navi is just 30m WR - it is not a watch for all situations... Big (-) for Navi but there is no solution to this question while retaining the original design of slide rule which is more usable than one on 903

    In the end - I sold the 903 but never bought a Navitimer :). Still cannot justify the price to myself because it isn't 'do-it-all' watch.

    When the time came to buy a 30m WR watch, I bought a Moonwatch :).

    IMHO if someone is wishing a Navitimer, 903 is nice watch for what it is, but it is not a substitution for that Navitimer urge. It would be nice having them both
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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    It would be nice having them both
    The longer you stay interested in this hobby, the greater the chance of that happening......
    "Either he's dead or my watch has stopped"
    Groucho Marx

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    Member Kurt Koerfgen's Avatar
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    Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    With respect to Sinn collecting fees from Breitling for Navitimers, this is the first I hear and I consider it highly unlikely.

    The history was as follows:
    1. In 1978 the original Breitling Company was dissolved and the remaining workforce laid off as, like many other Swiss watch companies, Breitling found it difficult to compete against Asian quartz watches. Shortly afterwards Willy Breitling, the last owner, passed away, effectively ending the era where the company was controlled by a member of the Breitling family.

    2. Breitling and Navitimer names, remaining part-assembled watches and watch parts were sold off during the liquidation.
    Ernest Schneider, owner of the lesser known Sicura watch company, bought in 1979 the rights to the "Navitimer" and Breitling" name.
    Part-assembled watches and parts where bought among others by Sinn and Ollech & Wajs, who continued to assemble and- in Sinn's case - further develop the watch, but could use neither the "Navitimer" nor "Breitling" name that was now owned by Ernest Schneider.

    3. The new Breitling company under Ernest Schneider relocated and resumed production in Grenchen, Switzerland, successfully adapting to the quartz age and at the same time re-introducing models like the venerable Navitimer, relying extensively on Valjoux 7750 movements before more recently introducing Breitling movements.

    Before I further discuss the rather outlandish claim that Sinn collects fees from Breitling, I would thus like to see some supporting evidence as there is as far as I know nothing in the Breitling history to support this claim.


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    Last edited by Kurt Koerfgen; June 2nd, 2016 at 06:19.
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    Member Hunterfate's Avatar
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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    @Kurt and others
    I apologize for foolish speed while I was writing the post and not verifying the source of the claim I made, so I cannot support this with anything substantial.

    I don't know why I even wrote it, because it is not the subject of this thread and not relevant in 903 vs Navitimer decision.

    Sorry.
    Last edited by Hunterfate; June 2nd, 2016 at 09:34.

  9. #9
    heb
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    Re: Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    The biggest drawback to the Sinn variant is the obliteration of so many minute chapters by the subdials. Back in the old days, aircrew members had to know the exact minute, not guess. Today, with GPS this and that, who knows.

    heb

  10. #10
    Member Kurt Koerfgen's Avatar
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    Sinn 903 vs Breitling Navitimer

    The 903 is a good watch at a significantly lower price point than the Breitling Navitimer.

    I own several Cosmonaute models of the Navitimer range and own a few 903's as well.

    Craftsmanship and finish is better on Navitimers, as should be expected considering the higher price, but the 903 has nice heft and looks, and feels and behaves like the quality watch it is.

    I regret to have to say though that Sinn watches are more likely to go back to the service center shortly after purchase to have hidden defects rectified. This has happened to me only once on a Breitling (that was replaced straight-away by the local dealer), but has happened sufficiently often with Sinn watches to become noticeable. I believe I own enough watches from both brands (more than 20 each) to be entitled to make such a statement.
    Combined with the different Sinn distribution model and the limited availability of Sinn certified service centers, this may be an important consideration. After the break-in period, any Sinn I ever bought became a dependable and reliable watch though, and accuracy is comparable to Breitlings.

    As far as the movement is concerned, the ETA/Valjoux 7750 is a tried and tested movement that Breitling used to install in Navitimers and continues to use it in large numbers. I do not believe that an in-house movement is inherently "better", even though it may give the watch owner (bragging) rights to claim the the movement is made by Breitling, but this would not bias me against the Sinn 903.

    Both watches are legitimate successors to the original Navitimer and while Sinn was more successful in increasing water-resistance of their 903, it came at the price of a somewhat awkward additional crown.
    Before holding that against the 903, one would have to ask oneself how often one expects to use the slide-rule function (once the novelty has worn off), and how often the watch is likely to be immersed in water. The ultimate preference may thus depend on the owners circumstances.

    Both are nice watches and the ultimate choice may be influenced by price, intended use, and to a lesser extent by ease of access to a service center.


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    Last edited by Kurt Koerfgen; June 3rd, 2016 at 17:38.
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    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

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