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Review of the Sinn 856 UTC

Aviation Hands on Watch Reviews Sinn

Sinn 856 UTC

In my tireless search for unique, robust, and beautiful watches, it was inevitable that I would someday be wearing a Sinn. I chose the 856 UTC as my first Sinn because it represents a very nice balance between functionality and design.

Before I get into the specifics of the 856, I want to provide a little background on the Sinn brand. Sinn is a German watch company that has been making mechanical watches since 1961. Sinn is owned by Lothar Schmidt who, in addition to having been with IWC and A. Lange & Söhne in the past, happens to be an engineer. I mention this fact because Schmidt’s background in engineering clearly manifests itself in the design of many Sinn watches, including the 856 UTC.

Features of the Sinn 856 UTC include:

  • ETA 2893-2 mechanical movement.
  • UTC (GMT) hand which you can use either to see the current 24-hour time, or to monitor a second time zone.
  • Anti-magnetic shielding. The watch’s movement is encased in an iron core which protects it from magnetism.
  • Anti-humidity system. The 856 has a copper sulphate capsule built into the case at about the 7 o’clock position which absorbs any moisture that may find its way into the watch. Over time, the capsule turns bluish as it absorbs moisture, and should be replaced about every five years (the normal maintenance interval for a mechanical watch).
  • Tegimented case and bracelet. The 856’s case and bracelet have been hardened to about four times the normal hardness of stainless steel. If you’re an engineer yourself, that’s about 1,200 Vickers. I’ve worn the 856 several times, and literally there’s not a single scratch on it. The case and bracelet are also sand blasted for a dull grayish look that I personally love.
  • Water resistant to 20 bar (200 meters, or about 650 feet).
  • Screwdown crown and caseback.
  • Flat sapphire crystal.
  • Date perfectly positioned just inside the 4 o’clock index.
  • 40mm wide case, 10.7mm high. These dimensions work really well for people with smaller wrists who still want a big watch.
  • Black matte dial.
  • Luminescent hands and hour markers.

At its heart, the Sinn 856 UTC is an aviation watch. The pilot style dial and hands (reminiscent of an analog dial in a cockpit), UTC feature, and anti-magnetic shielding make it a good choice for pilots who are looking for a beautiful, unique, and practical alternative to a Breitling or the Rolex GMT Master II. The one issue I have with the ETA 2893-2 movement, however, is that you can’t set the 12-hour hand and date independently and simultaneously like you can with the GMT Master II. Instead, the hour and minute hands are set in the conventional way, and the UTC hand is set by rotating the crown in one direction (in the second position) while the opposite direction sets the date. Being able to set the 12-hour hand independently is a bit more useful for switching between time zones, in my opinion. Additionally, it’s a little hard to remember which direction moves the UTC hand versus the date meaning you’re likely to get it wrong every now and then which can be frustrating.

Otherwise, the Sinn 856 UTC is a very competent and practical watch. For someone who loves unique and robust mechanical watches, you can see how the Sinn 856 UTC is very appealing. I’ve been wearing it on and off for a few months now, and whenever I put it back on, I fall in love with it all over again.

By Christian Cantrell


  1. I’ve had mine three years… wear it everyday… Love it… still looks brand new after 1000+ days of wear!

  2. I purchased my Sinn 856 UTC watch while on a trip to Los Angeles a month ago. The watch serial number inscribed at the back is 856.4785, its accuracy is remarkable, as it deviates only half a minute in a month’s time, vis-a-vis a quartz timepiece. I own a few other high-end watches but this Sinn model beats all of them in accuracy!

  3. hi christian! i’m glad to have happened upon your review of the sinn 856 utc! i have been looking at this and other watches from sinn, and your review certainly helps me to get closer to a decision.



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