For a long time, one could slap a set of sword hands on a dial and call it a pilot’s replica watch. Then the TESTAF certification came along and changed all that. First introduced in 2012, the TESTAF standard was developed by Dr. Frank Janser of the Flight Laboratory of the Faculty of Aerospace Technology of the Aachen University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with German replica watch brand Sinn High Quality Swiss Fake Watch. TESTAF defined and standardized what it mean to be a pilot’s replica watch on a technical level, covering everything from the general functionality and legibility of a replica watch to its performance under extreme circumstances. Naturally, Sinn was one of the earliest adopters, releasing several TESTAF-certified models over the last three years. Stowa followed suit shortly thereafter.
Then in mid-2013, Sinn—with participation from others in the German replica watchmaking and aviation industries—began to work on a pilot’s standard through DIN. For those unaware, DIN, the German Institute for Standardization, is the same organization responsible for the DIN 8306 standard used to certify professional dive replica watches. The result of this project was the DIN 8330 pilot’s replica watch standard, largely built on the foundation of the TESTAF certification. The difference? Even stricter guidelines regarding a replica watch’s ability to withstand vibrations, day and night readability, and resistance against liquids commonly encountered in aviation (think fuel and lubricants).
Sinn, being the ultimate tool-swiss replica watch brand that it is, unveiled three new DIN-certified replica watches: 103 Ti IFR, 103 Ti UTC IFR, and 857 UTC VFR. (Stowa released its own DIN-certified pilot’s replica watch at Basel 2016.)
As the name suggests, the 103 Ti IFR builds on the existing 103 family of pilot chronographs. The 41mm bead-blasted titanium case features Sinn’s proprietary AR-dehumidifying system, a captive bezel, pressure resistance up to 20 bar, and a domed sapphire crystal with double-sided anti-reflective coating. Aesthetically, the Ti IFR gives the traditional line a modern face lift, not unlike what we saw with Sinn’s execution of the TESTAF-certified 103. Gone are the syringe hands, replaced with bold swords. Subtle orange accents highlight the chronograph function. The dial eschews the traditional 7750 layout, replacing the 12-hour counter at six with a tonal DIN 8330 stamp. I foresee this being a somewhat divisive detail, but it’s largely unobtrusive to my eye. Overall, the Ti IFR boasts an incredibly clean design—something Sinn is very good at executing—and it stays true to the tool-replica watch ideal.
The Ti UTC IFR adds a UTC function via a centrally-mounted grey sword hand. I love the stealthy application here, which keeps the complication fully functional without overtly cluttering the dial.
The 857 UTC VFR is the standalone non-chrono of the troika. At 43mm, the stainless steel case is bead-blasted and tegimented (the surface is hardened to an impressive 1200 vickers). There’s a a 60-minute rotating pilot bezel, and the case features much of the aforementioned technical specs (dehumidfying technology, 20 bar pressure-resistance). Having handled earlier iterations of the 857, I can tell you that the on-paper dimension are not indicative of how the replica watch wears on the wrist. The overall proportions and the dial-to-bezel ratio make for a very comfortable replica watch. At its core, the dial pulls from Sinn’s instrumentation heritage, and it’s an aesthetic that appears on several lines across Sinn’s catalogue. It’s arguably one of the most legible dial designs in existence, and the 857 UTC VFR—with all of its seeming embellishments—is no different. The dial features a UTC function via a centrally mounted hand and a 24-hour scale, both accented in a vibrant orange. Because the UTC complication is color coded, it doesn’t interfere with the general timekeeping function which remains stark and legible. Overall, it’s a stunning look, and one that should find mass appeal.
Sinn’s new DIN-certified timekeepers will be available fall 2016.