Recently I wrote about how I believe that the Sinn U1 S is the best diving watch. If you’ve been following the StrapHabit blog since the beginning, you might also remember that I named the U1 Camouflage the 5th best watch to wear during the apocalypse. I hadn’t actually handled the “Camo” in person, but I really liked the look of it in photos.
As luck would have it, a friend of mine recently loaned me his Sinn U1 Camo to review and compare to my U1 S!
Differences of the U1 Camouflage
Released in 2016 (and now sold out), the U1 Camouflage was a 500 unit limited edition Sinn based on the "normal" U1. This means that unlike my U1 S, the U1 "camo" eschews the hard black coating on its case and bezel for a bare steel with a matte, bead blasted finish. It is still made of German submarine steel, but only the bezel is Tegimented (Sinn's hardening process).
The bezel also features black paint in the recessed markers, rather than the white and red on the U1 S. The hands, dial, and bezel pip feature black lume rather than white.
The dial text and date location are the same, as are the case, bezel, crown and crystal. The only changes to the caseback are the markings for the reference number, and the watch's number in the series out of 500.
The most obvious change, however, is of course the dial. Featuring shades of green and white markings, this is obviously where the limited edition model gets its name.
Other than these differences, everything is the same as the U1 S. I won't rehash everything in detail again, so definitely go back and read that review if you haven't already.
If you're a fan of camo patterns or tool watches in general, the U1 Camouflage will be likely right up your alley. The unique dial makes it a really fun weekend or casual wear watch. It sure to be very different from anything else in your collection
Having the same 44mm diameter and 14.7mm thickness as other U1 models means that it feels the same on the wrist as well. That is to say quite comfortable considering its large size and weight. The silver color means that it doesn't shrink visually quite as much as the U1 S, but the funky dial means that it doesn't take itself too seriously.
Dial and Hands
The dial and hands are the main selling point of the U1 Camouflage, but also its biggest flaw. As usual, Sinn nailed the color choices from an aesthetic standpoint. The matte finish, and saturation level of the colors give it just enough pop without being too in your face. The silver case color was also a better choice than black, as it pairs better with the dial.
The colors have crisp boundaries between them, and the black hands and indices match well.
But the hands and markers are also where you'll find the watch's biggest flaw. Depending on ambient light and the position of the hands at a given time of day, the camo dial actually camouflages the hands, making it difficult to read the time at a quick glance. It's hard to capture in photos with bright studio lighting, but the dark green portions of the dial appear closer to black in many lighting conditions.
The story isn't much better at night, as the black lume is quite dim compared to that of the standard U1.
How would I solve this issue? Because the dial looks so cool as it is, I'd focus on improving the hands and markers. The best way that I could think if would be to apply the white hands with black centers from the U1 DE limited edition, or tan hands from the U1 S E. It would help the day and night legibility, but it wouldn't look as good as the black hands.
Unlike my pre-owned U1 S, this watch still retained its original straps, so I was finally able to check them out. I couldn't wear the green silicone strap on this borrowed watch, as it needs to be cut to size, but I was at least able to check it out. The strap is quite thick, and fits cleanly to the case. The molded Sinn logo is a nice touch as well. I have heard that dust tends to stick to the silicone after a bit of wear, but I wasn't able to verify that.
The most impressive part about the strap to me is the deployant clasp. It is a solid chuck of steel befitting of the beefy case, and feels very precisely made. Twin push buttons make it quick to remove, yet hold it securely. It also features a hidden dive extension. Interestingly, Sinn also fills the holes used for sizing with metal pins, I assume to make sure it keeps its shape.
The U1 Camouflage also comes with an "olive drab" Zulu-style strap. It's made of a thick, high-quality nylon. Other than being a good match for the dial, there isn't much remarkable about it, but it is nice to have.
The friend who loaned me the watch also purchased the tegimented bracelet to go with it. It's a very solid piece of kit, which came with its own padded box, extra spring bars in a little plastic vial, and tools for removing links as well as installing it to the watch.
The links are held in place with female hex-head bolts. The clasp features a locking safety clasp. Unlike the silicone strap, it is a friction fit rather than having push button releases however. To me, this is an acceptable solution for a tool watch, but it does make it less refined to put it on and take it off.
I've also photographed the watch on a variety of StrapHabit straps including a few of our quick-release rubber straps as well as quick-release canvas.
Other than the legibility issue mentioned, the U1 Camo has all of the great attributes that I loved about the U1 S. A lot of people are not sticklers for legibility as I am, and I am think I am biased after having spent so much time wearing the supremely legible standard dial and hands.
The time can always still be read on this watch. If you love the camo look, I don't think it's a deal-breaker, and the watch overall is still very fun to wear.
What do you think of the U1 Camouflage? Which model from the Sinn U series is your favorite? We'd love to hear from you in the comments.
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Name: Sinn U1 Camouflage
Reference Number: 1010.16778
Price: $2,160 (discontinued) plus $430 for tegimented bracelet
Dimensions: 44mm diameter, 50.5mm lug-to-lug, 14.7mm thick, 22mm lug width
Movement: Sellita SW200-1
Water Resistance: 1,000m
Crystal: Sapphire with clear AR coating on both sides
Bezel: Unidirectional, tegimented steel 60 clicks
Strap/Bracelet: Green silicone and brown nylon zulu (Additional Sinn Tegimented stainless steel bracelet and StrapHabit straps also shown for the review).