903 Impressions
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Thread: 903 Impressions

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  1. #1
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    903 Impressions

    I have done some reading of older threads available through the search function that speak to the high quality of the Sinn 903 and its relative value to the Breitling Navitimer. I find the history interesting and something about the story behind it is appealing to my personality.

    I am considering getting either a 903 as a reward for myself after completing a long time professional goal. I am fairly certain in my decision, but I want to ask for any opinions from those who have owned a 903 and what their impressions are. Of particular interest would be anyone who owned watches from both brands- was there any appreciable difference or quality difference, etc.? Also, I cannot imagine this would be the case, but did any of you regret your purchase? Why? My only vague concern is that I have long admired the Navitimer.

    Thanks for your thoughts!
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  2. #2
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    I have had my Sinn 903 for about 18 months -- and have zero regrets. I have never owned the Navitimer and haven't seen one up close in years. I have always liked the Navitimer design, but not a fan of the price tag or of Breitling in general. I think the Sinn dial is more refined and less busy than the older Navitimers (the ones prior to the most recent redesign). I normally don't like 4:30 date windows either, but on the Sinn it works for me -- it is hidden between the two subdials and the date wheel background is the same color as the dial. The other key difference is the how the inner slide-rule bezel is turned. The Sinn uses the 10 o'-clock crown vs rotating the Navitimer bezel itself. It is clumsier to use the crown, but that crown gives 100m WR, which the Navitmer doesn't have.

    The Sinn is a great watch and I don't see myself ever selling it. That being said, here are some of my other observations:

    -- It is a thick watch -- 14.5mm. On the bad side of this, the case is kettle shaped -- the widest part of the watch (41mm) is the very top, the bezel, so it is tough to hide. On the other hand, at decent amount of the watch thickness is "below the lug line" (a term I invented as I visually compare thicker watches) and kind of disappears as the case back sits "in your wrist", rather than all the watch on top if it, like a 41mm Tudor Black Bay. For all I know, the Breitling could be similar in all these matters...I can't speak to that. Bottom line -- I do not think this watch is too thick.

    -- Probably my least favorite aspect is the bracelet, specifically the butterfly clasp. There are no micro or small adjustment options. I removed two links and I wish I had about 2-3mm more room. When it's cooler... the watch fists my 7.0 inch wrist well. As it warms up, it approaches being too snug. Not enough to be irritated by it, but it is noticeable. I normally shy away from too many polished surfaces on a watch+bracelet, but in the Sinn's case, they are very nice and helps dress the watch up well. I actually really like the angled center links of Breitling bracelets, but I have no idea what their clasps are like. But I would not buy another Sinn fine link bracelet because of this lack of small adjustment capability. Also, I had a single instance of turning my wrist such that it squeezed both of the side release triggers of the clasp. Luckily the watch did not fall off and luckily the 903 looks great on leather as well.

    -- I did have to answer the "but it's not a Breitling?" query once from a co-worker, who was kind of a watch guy. I didn't really care and he had no idea about the history either. These days, if I ever get that question again, I going to say something about Breitling nearly went bankrupt again and are now owned by a venture capital firm that knows less about watches than 95% of the members of these forums.

    -- One last minor irritant...and I readily admit I'm not sure if this is a Sinn thing, or the Selitta Sw-500 movement (or even a 7750 thing). When screwing the crown back in after winding, the crown seems to not disengage from the winding mechanism and it still has that "winding feel." My other two automatic watches (Rolex and Seiko) don't do this. Maybe other watches do as well. Is it a deal-breaker? Hardly.

    Again, the 903 is a great watch, from a great company. I have no regrets and just wish Sinn pieces were easier to see in person (at least in the US).

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    rapsac1971, simonp67 and wkw like this.
    Rolex 16710 GMT Master II // Sinn 903 // Seiko SPB053, SKX173, SSC027, SNA411 // A-13A Pilot Watch

  3. #3
    Member Kurt Koerfgen's Avatar
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    For a few years I collected “Navitimer” style watches and own several Breitling Cosmonautes (the versin with the 24-hour dial) and Sinn 903s.
    The Sinn 903 is an excellent watch and has a much more attractive price point. Built quality is comparable and I have no issues with the fact that later versions have now a Selitta SW 500 movement., which to me works as well as the ETA/Valjoux 7750 movements that were used before.
    Breitling pricing has been rising into outer space levels while Sinn priving has remained much more reasonable.
    Sinn has the edge in eater resistance that was always a weak point of the original Navitimer design, but if you want to use the sliderule function the tchnical solution that Sinn chose makes the sliderule a little bit more cumbersome to use.
    Still, most owners will probbaly rate improved water resistance higher than the ease at which you can turn the sliderule wheel.

    I can full-heartedly recommend the Sinn 903.


    K.
    Last edited by Kurt Koerfgen; September 29th, 2018 at 12:04.
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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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  5. #4
    kgo
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    Looked at both, got the blue 903.

    In the apples-to-apples comparison, Breitling won't let you get white subdials on the 41mm with the Valjoux movement. If you want that you need to buy a large 43 or 46mm watch and pay for the in house movement. In particular the blue only has white subdials at 46mm! I feel the in-house movement doesn't really have much history being less than 10 years old and was probably created just so they could claim they are as good and pricey as another unnamed Swiss brand.

    I do like the way the Breitling has some depth, with a more angular bezel and the dial sitting lower. The blue models are also starburst, and the Sinn doesn't have that Starburst shine. Happy with mine but if I did it again would go with the black.

    The Sinn has more lume and water resistance, which I think are mandatory for a sporty watch. But I'm mildly disappointed with the lume in mine if I look at it in the middle of the night, like waking up at 3 am. I told myself I was spoiled by dive watches, but even my Citizen Nighthawk seems to do better with less lume. Not sure if the smaller lume dots on the Breitling actually are better in the end.

    They gave me a catalog at the Breitling botique, and I was really turned off by all their claims of inventing this and that, and their legacy back to 1884, and the history and the heritage, when I knew about the 1978 bankruptcy and how the *new* Breitling was totally disconnected from the old. Getting sick of the stories about Swiss Magic Pixie Dust that no one else in the world can replicate. So in the end I went with the Sinn and was happy with that.
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  6. #5
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    903 Impressions

    First, very nice watch, looks great.
    Second, please forgive me if I’m saying something obvious.

    As far as bracelet adjustment, I’ve read elsewhere that the Sinn fine link have two slightly smaller links. Using trial and error these can be removed, or not, in combination with the full size links to get a finer adjustment.

    In your picture it looks like you have one of these on the left. Replacing it with the full size might give you the extra room you’re after.
    Here’s a picture showing the two slightly smaller links on either side of the clasp



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    Last edited by nodnar; September 29th, 2018 at 20:44. Reason: Spelling

  7. #6
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    I can’t think of a single category where the 903 doesn’t blow the Breitling clear out of the water.

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  8. #7
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by nodnar View Post
    First, very nice watch, looks great.
    Second, please forgive me if I’m saying something obvious.

    As far as bracelet adjustment, I’ve read elsewhere that the Sinn fine link have two slightly smaller links. Using trial and error these can be removed, or not, in combination with the full size links to get a finer adjustment.

    In your picture it looks like you have one of these on the left. Replacing it with the full size might give you the extra room you’re after.
    Here’s a picture showing the two slightly smaller links on either side of the clasp



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Well...would you look at that. Now I'm the dumb one. I was still pretty new in the WIS world when I got this watch and never noticed. Thanks!!
    Rolex 16710 GMT Master II // Sinn 903 // Seiko SPB053, SKX173, SSC027, SNA411 // A-13A Pilot Watch

  9. #8
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by nbsheeran View Post
    Well...would you look at that. Now I'm the dumb one. I was still pretty new in the WIS world when I got this watch and never noticed. Thanks!!
    No problem, I read that you can get to the nearest 1/3 of a link on the sizing by playing around with these. I think the small ones are 2/3 full size.


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  10. #9
    Member Kurt Koerfgen's Avatar
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    They gave me a catalog at the Breitling botique, and I was really turned off by all their claims of inventing this and that, and their legacy back to 1884, and the history and the heritage, when I knew about the 1978 bankruptcy and how the *new* Breitling was totally disconnected from the old. Getting sick of the stories about Swiss Magic Pixie Dust that no one else in the world can replicate. So in the end I went with the Sinn and was happy with that.

    So true.
    Regarding the lume and the Swiss Magic Pixie Dust; for a long time I didn’t know that - according the the head of the Sinn service department - certain types of lume are not available outside of Switzerland.

    It seems pixie dust is not for export....



    K.

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

    Bertrand Russell

  11. #10
    wkw
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    Re: 903 Impressions

    I’ve been lurking for a 903 for long time and I finally picked one up last year. The watch is very well built and the dial printing is top notch.

    Like the other poster says, I’d definitely pick a 903 again except I prefer black dial instead of the blue one with vintage color hands.




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