Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?
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    Member Pascal S's Avatar
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    Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    It is common knowledge that German astronaut Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 during his stay in space for the German Spacelab "D1" mission as part of the STS-61A Space Shuttle launch in 1985. For a very long time, his Sinn had been credited as the first automatic chronograph in space until new evidence recently gave that title to Seiko.

    While Sinn also based some of its marketing on that achievement, I always had some doubts. Not that a Sinn did go to space, but rather about which particular model made the trip. So now I will share my thoughts on this topic, and I welcome any feedback of new elements you might have to either confirm or invalidate my theory.

    First, let's have a look at the well known picture of Reinhard Furrer in the Space Shuttle:



    On his left wrist is clearly visible a large watch with a black PVD coating, an option made available by Sinn on several of its watches, including the 142. And it sure does look like the latter. But my problem with that version of history is that we never saw any other pictures of this watch, let alone any kind of close-up shot. Given the importance of this timepiece in Sinn's marketing, it is not unreasonable that they would have tried to have further material to put forward, and that well before Reinhard Furrer's tragic death in 1995.

    Also, an other details caught my attention. The 142's caseback has an engraving commemorating the D1 mission, but it refers to the watch as "model 140/142". For those of you who don't know, the Sinn 140 used the exact same case, but was powered by a Lemania 1341 movement that also featured a GMT complication. Definitely a close cousin to the 142, but not the same watch though. This prompted me to dig a bit deeper, until I found a better resolution version of the picture above, from which I cropped the following close-up:



    Not supremely detailed, I admit, but enough so that we can draw a few conclusions. The first one is that the watch visible on this shot is NOT a Sinn 142. The element that allows me to be so sure is located at 12 on this watch's dial: the luminous marker. Because of the Lemania 5100's 6-9-12 subdial layout, the Sinn 142 does not have such a luminous marker, as shown on the following picture taken from Sinn's own promotional material:



    On the picture above, it is clear that the presence of the 24 hour register, typical of almost all Lemania 5100 chronographs, does not leave room on the dial for the kind of large luminous marker visible on Reinhard Furrer's watch. That is why I can confidently say that, based on the photographic evidence, this chronograph was not a Sinn 142.

    So the next logical step is to consider the other possibilities for what this watch might have been. As I mentioned before, a likely contender is the Sinn 140 with its Lemania 1341 automatic movement. But there too, there is a problem. Let's have a look:


    Photo by Chuck Maddox

    First of all, there is an obvious issue with this theory: all the Sinn 140 I have seen had contrasting subdials, just like Chuck's example above. And such an characteristic should be plainly visible on the Space Shuttle picture. Then there is the small date window, as the Lemania 1341 only provided date display. On Reinhard Furrer's watch, the window seems larger, probably to accomodate day and date.

    So it is my belief that there is only one candidate left, a watch that was briefly produced by Sinn before the introduction of the 142 and which, I believe, was known as model 141:



    This chronograph used a less common variant of the Lemania 5100 family, the calibre 5012. Apart from the absence of a 24 hour subdial at 12, leaving room for a large luminous marker, the 5012 beats at a slower beat (21,600 bph) than its more famous cousin. But it also does have day and date display, and its apparence is therefore fully consistent with what is visible on the picture of Reinhard Furrer's watch.

    In the end, my theory is that by the time the D1 mission took place, the model 141 had already been replaced by the 142 in Sinn's range. So when the picture of Reinhard Furrer wearing a Sinn in space surfaced, Sinn had to seize the opportunity, but on the other hand had to advertise the family of chronograph and not simply a specific model which had been discontinued. They sure were happy about the ambiguity, but their stance was certainly not worse than Omega's regarding the current Moonwatch model. This would therefore explain the puzzling "model 140/142" engraving on the back of the 142s produced after 1985.

  2. #2
    Member Chicagoland Chuck Maddox's Avatar
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    Thumbs Up Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pascal S View Post
    In the end, my theory is that by the time the D1 mission took place, the model 141 had already been replaced by the 142 in Sinn's range. So when the picture of Reinhard Furrer wearing a Sinn in space surfaced, Sinn had to seize the opportunity, but on the other hand had to advertise the family of chronograph and not simply a specific model which had been discontinued. They sure were happy about the ambiguity, but their stance was certainly not worse than Omega's regarding the current Moonwatch model. This would therefore explain the puzzling "model 140/142" engraving on the back of the 142s produced after 1985.
    [/SIZE] [/SIZE]
    Pascal,

    Some excellent detective work. I don't see any flaw's or mistakes in your thoughts or logic. I suspect the true story of which model Sinn Herr Furrer actually wore in space is probably either dead on with your assessment, or much closer to your "laying out" the terrain above as anyone's previously.

    Very nice work!



    Chuck

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    Member eptaz's Avatar
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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Indeed, that's some fascinating research, Pascal. Your analysis looks dead on. I guess I'd never looked that closely, but that photo certainly does not show a 142 with a 24-hour subdial c.5100, and we know that the c.1341 did not offer a day wheel.
    Very well done!

    eric

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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Reinhard Furrer died ten years after his flight in Berlin. Too bad we've lost the possibility of asking the man himself. Anyone know what happened to him?

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    Member Pascal S's Avatar
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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    I think he died in the crash of a Me-108 Taifun vintage plane.

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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Hi Pascal, nice Story here

    Actually i think i can solve this puzzle quite easily Reinhold Furrer gave his watch back to Sinn and as far as i can remember it is displayed in the showroom in Frankfurt. As i live nearby Frankfurt and have to go to Sinn respectively Jubilar watches (Helmut Sinn´s new Company) anyway i could have a look at the watch and tell you which model it is.
    Now to your conclusions you are stating in reference to the close up of Furrers watch. I do believe that it is a 142 and will tell you why.
    As you can see on the watch it is about 1245 AM or PM. Assuming that it is
    1245Am in the morning, the 24hr dial hand would be almost pointing to 12o´clock position and due to the bad lighting of the picture could easily be mistaken for a lume marking at the 12o´clock position.

    What do you think

    Ciao Ciao

    René
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    Member Pascal S's Avatar
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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Quote Originally Posted by sulaco View Post
    I do believe that it is a 142 and will tell you why.
    As you can see on the watch it is about 1245 AM or PM. Assuming that it is
    1245Am in the morning, the 24hr dial hand would be almost pointing to 12o´clock position and due to the bad lighting of the picture could easily be mistaken for a lume marking at the 12o´clock position.

    What do you think
    I suppose it's possible, but I personally don't believe it is the case. The 24 hour hand has a distinctive triangular shape, and even at its base it is not any wider than a regular hour marker. What we see from Furrer's watch appears to be a noticeably wider marker, which could well be the double luminous marker found on the Lemania 5012 powered chronos.

    Besides, if his watch is indeed a Sinn 142, why make a reference to the entire model family on the commemorative caseback? Sinn had no reason to make a reference to models that were no longer made...

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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Maybe the 141 was the Predecessor of the 142, obviously they share a lot
    of similarities. Isn´t it a bit like the Speedmaster 321/861 movement story?
    No matter which movement works inside the Speedy they all have the same
    statement written on the back "First watch....." and not to mention the different dials and hands that where made in the line of production.
    Either way as i said, when i give Sinn a visit, i will take a picture of the
    watch, then we know for sure.
    By the way, what makes you so sure that the 141 was only produced with a
    1341 movement, could also be a 5100, just think about the EZM 1 also powered by the 5100 and there is nothing the dail that gives a hint about that fact, they reduced the day/date window to date only and no subdials are left.
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    Member Pascal S's Avatar
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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Quote Originally Posted by sulaco View Post
    Maybe the 141 was the Predecessor of the 142, obviously they share a lot
    of similarities. Isn´t it a bit like the Speedmaster 321/861 movement story?
    Both the 140 and the 141 were predecessors to the 142. And yes, the history of this watch is very similar to the one of the Moonwatch. I actually said as much in my original post.


    Quote Originally Posted by sulaco View Post
    No matter which movement works inside the Speedy they all have the same statement written on the back "First watch....." and not to mention the different dials and hands that where made in the line of production.
    Yes, they do have the same engraving, and I actually find Sinn's stance a lot more honest than Omega's since the German company actually acknowledges the entire family of watches and not just their model 142.


    Quote Originally Posted by sulaco View Post
    Either way as i said, when i give Sinn a visit, i will take a picture of the watch, then we know for sure.
    I would very much welcome pictures. But I am surprised that the posters from the Sinn forum who visited the factory a few days ago apparently have not seen this watch. Maybe they just were not looking for it.


    Quote Originally Posted by sulaco View Post
    By the way, what makes you so sure that the 141 was only produced with a 1341 movement, could also be a 5100, just think about the EZM 1 also powered by the 5100 and there is nothing the dail that gives a hint about that fact, they reduced the day/date window to date only and no subdials are left.
    The Sinn 141 did not have a Lemania 1341, the latter being used in the earlier Sinn 140. The 141 had a Lemania 5012, which is a much closer relative to the 5100 despite its slower frequency. And while I imagine that Sinn might have produced some watches powered by a 5100 and with a 141 dial, I have yet to see an example of these...

    As for the Sinn EZM1, it was a conscious choice from Sinn to make the dial as uncluttered as possible given the purpose of this watch as a mission timer. That's why all subdials were scrapped leaving only the central chrono hands and an unobstrusive date window.

    I am certainly not trying to nail Sinn here. It's a brand I like very much and for which I have a lot of respect. But precisely because they took the step of acknowledging a series of watches rather than a specific model for Reinhard Furrer's space flight, it gave me the idea to dig a bit deeper. And what I found leads me to believe that it actually was a model 141, powered by a Lemania 5012 movement, that made it to space in 1985. It is merely a theory I admit, but one I feel pretty confident about.

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    Re: Reinhard Furrer wore a Sinn 142 in space, or did he?

    Hi again,
    sorry for the mixup about the movement in the 141 misread your posting there.
    There sure is no miscreditation in any of your comments here and i didn´t understand it that way either
    Just wanted to bring in some thoughts here.
    As for Furrer´s watch at Sinn´s showroom, i have no idea why they didn´t mention it.
    I tried to find some pictures in the NASA database, but their files start with
    Shuttle Mission STS-68 in 09/1994.
    Found on other picture of Furrer (kind of an autograph card, where he wears this watch too, but the quality is also not good enough to supersize it. Actually we are not getting to a conclusion here unless i visit Sinn

    Ohhh
    One last thing, don´t you think a 24hr subdial would be a good idea on a spaceflight to keep track on day and nighttime? So if he had the chance to choose, then why take the 141 instead of the 142?

    Was nice discussing with you

    Kind regards

    René
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