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Special watches for aviators and astronauts
The Pilot Watch Magazine
29 January 2024

Timepieces developed by a pilot for pilots

The Sinn brand was named after Helmut Sinn, a German pilot and entrepreneur born in Metz, Lorraine, in 1916. Sinn founded a small watch manufactory in Frankfurt am Main in 1961 and marketed wristwatches developed by himself under his name, especially pilot chronographs. In 1994, he sells the brand to former IWC executive Lothar Schmidt, only to invest in Swiss-German watch specialist Guinand a year later.

Sinn remains entrepreneurial into old age and is regarded as an outstanding figure in the watch industry. His special watches not only make it into the cockpits of private and professional pilots, but even into outer space. In the 1980s and 90s, for example, German astronauts Reinhard Furrer, Reinhold Ewald and Klaus-Dietrich Flade wore automatic chronographs from Sinn on their wrists during their space missions. Helmut Sinn dies in Frankfurt am Main in early 2018 at the proud age of 101.

Founded in 1961, the traditional company Sinn Spezialuhren combines quality, precision and innovation in its masterfully crafted timepieces.


Pioneer of the modern pilot’s watch

Aviation enthusiast Sinn is considered a pioneer of the modern pilot’s watch. The mechanical timepieces he developed and manufactured in Switzerland according to his specifications are still the model for many pilot watch manufacturers today in terms of functionality and design, as well as due to their high recognition value. The enterprising entrepreneur also introduced the direct sale of watches to end customers, which was very innovative at the time, cutting out the middleman. He summed up his goal of avoiding price markups with a motto that is just as valid today as it was then: as perfect as possible, but only as expensive as necessary.

A new chapter in the company’s history

With the takeover of the company by the German engineer and entrepreneur Lothar Schmidt, a new chapter in the history of the watchmaking company begins. Lothar Schmidt himself has been working for Sinn since 1993. Prior to that, he had worked at IWC in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, since 1981, initially as a freelancer and later as an authorized signatory. There, he was responsible for the development and operation of case and bracelet production as well as the areas of design and development, and later also for the area of movement parts production. From 1990 until his move to Sinn, he was also the main person responsible for setting up the production and logistics of the watch manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte, Saxony, which was re-established after the fall of the Wall and was then a subsidiary of IWC.

Lothar Schmidt is responsible for significant changes at Sinn. Among other things, he parted with the private label division, successively expanded the watchmaker’s collection, developed his own watch models and promoted innovative technologies. In addition to direct sales, Lothar Schmidt introduced so-called depots. These are selected jewelers and watch specialty stores that also sell timepieces from Sinn. Sinn continues to develop and manufacture its chronometers primarily in Frankfurt am Main. A special focus within the product lines is still Sinn’s pilot’s watches for professional use.

More from Sinn

More information at

Lilienthal Berlin

Lilienthal Berlin

Quality watches from the German capital