In 2020 Sinn released a watch that many of its fans had been asking for. The brand took its popular U1 series, and shrunk it down, following the current trend of downsizing watches. The resulting watch was called the U50, and it became a popular watch among dive watch enthusiasts.
When I reviewed its U1 S big brother and declared it the best dive watch that money can buy, I did it with the caveat that I had not seen a U50 in the metal. As luck would have it, a friend in our local watch group recently bought one. I was able to borrow that watch, as well as the "standard" model U1 to do a comparison. If you'd like to read a full review and learn more about what makes these watches unique, such as their submarine steel cases, check out the U1 S review linked above. This article will focus on the differences between the models.
Can the U50 knock its big brother the U1 off its pedestal? Keep reading to find out!
U50 vs. U1 Similarities and Differences
The 41mm U50 retains all of the aspects that Sinn fans loved about the 44mm U1, but packs them into a package that is roughly 3mm smaller in diameter, thickness, and lug to lug distance. The lug width is also reduced from 22mm to 20mm, and water resistance goes down from 1000m to 500m.
Some of the U50s thickness reduction comes from the caseback, which I'm guessing is also one of the main reasons that its water resistance is reduced.
Another way that Sinn was able to reduce the thickness so much is by employing a thinner movement. The U1 uses the Sellita SW200-1, while the U50 uses the 1mm thinner SW300-1. Sinn charges slightly more for the U50 as a result, as the SW300-1 is a more expensive calibre.
Other than these differences, they feature the same styling, just with different proportions. They are both available on a few colors of silicone straps, or Sinn's h-link bracelet with dive extension. StrapHabit FKM rubber straps are also featured in some of the photos.
The Sinn U Series Variations
You might be thinking that I said these watches look identical, yet the watches in the photos look different in more ways than size. That's because Sinn also offers a number of different variations of these models. I was able to get my hands on three of the variants, a U1, my U1 S, and a U50-T SDR.
The U series also consists of a number of other models including the UX, U2, and U212. For the purpose of this article, I'll focus on only the U1 and the U50, as the other models are different beasts altogether.
The "standard" model has no additional letters appended to the model name. In the photos, you'll see a standard U1. it is all silver, and the bezel is treated with Sinn's Tegimenting process, which hardens the steel and makes it more scratch-resistant.
Sinn also offers -T models, which have their entire cases Tegimented, as well as bracelets if you opt for one over a strap. Tegimented steel appears slightly darker, and these models feature a special logo on the clasps and casebacks to denote that this process has been applied.
The U50 that you see in the photos is the -T SDR. In addition to being fully Tegimented, it has a bezel with Sinn's Black Hard Coating. SDR models are also available without full Tegimenting.
Finally, the all-black model shown is my U1-S. The -S models are fully tegimented and fully treated with Black Hard Coating.
The U1 and U50 are both available in all of the above configurations. Sinn also periodically offers limited or special edition colors like the U1 SE, U1 B, or the U1 Camouflage that I reviewed recently.
The Better Dive Watch?
As you probably know from my U1 review, I'm not a diver, but it's pretty easy to declare that the U1 is still the better dive watch. The fact that it has double the water resistance is obvious, but its larger size also helps it perform better as a dive watch and even a tool watch.
The large crown is much easier to grip on the U1. The crown being difficult to grip was the biggest complaint from the owner of the U50. The U1 bezel is also slightly easier to grip and turn, plus the larger dial is more legible (The U50 is still excellent in this category, however).
Subjectively, the U1 also feels more durable, like it could withstand a bigger impact without being damaged.
Wearing the U50
The U50 is significantly more comfortable to wear than the U1. Both watches have a low center of gravity and wear well for chunky dive watches. The U50 is just so much thinner and lighter that it tends to disappear on the wrist. The U1, on the other hand, always reminds you that its there.
Who Should Buy a U1?
If you're comfortable wearing big and heavy watches, and especially if you have a large wrist, the U1 is the original badass. The bezel and crown are easier to operate for those with large fingers, and the legibility is slightly better due to the larger dial and hands (although it is still excellent on the U50).
Price can also be a factor if you're on a tight budget. The new prices are very close, with a U50 being $10 to $80 more expensive than the same U1 variant (due to its more expensive movement). If you're buying used, however, the difference becomes greater. U1s can be found at lower prices due to the fact that they have been available longer.
Who Should Buy a U50?
If you love the chunky "Lego" hands of the U1, but simply don't like the appearance or comfort of a 44mm watch, the U50 is a great replacement. It is much easier to wear and will stand out less (although it still has quite a bold look). It still has more than enough water resistance for, well, anyone, and the Tegimented bezel and beefy bracelet should be able to stand up to anything you can throw at it.
In most cases, I would choose a 41mm watch over the same watch in 44mm. In the case of the Sinn U series, however, I prefer the bigger U1 over the U50. Although I'm sure that the U50 would handle anything that it would encounter while strapped to my wrist, part of the appeal of this model line is the feeling of having being indestructible. This makes wearing the big and beefy U1 more fun and interesting.
Additionally, I think the blocky dial aesthetic works better in the larger size. If I were specifically looking for a smaller and thinner dive watch, I might go with something that has an aesthetic that matches the size better, such as the Seiko SPB143.
I also tend to buy watches pre-owned, and a used U1 is significantly less expensive than a used U50.
After having spent some time with each of the different color options, I am still happy that I waited to find the S model too. The silver looks very attractive, but I feel like the all-black model has the most aggressive appearance. Being black also makes it shrink in visual size slightly.
That being said, I understand that the U1 is simply too big for many people, and they won't find it comfortable. I'm glad that the U50 exists for these people, as it allows them to experience what a fun watch the U1 is to wear. I'm a big fan of the Sinn brand, and I love seeing people wear either version.
What is your favorite Sinn U series model? Let us know in the comments.
|Model||U1||U1 S||U50-T SDR|
|MSRP (with bracelet)||$2,510||$3,130||$3,110|
|Case Material||Stainless steel||Stainless steel, Teg. with Black Hard Coating||Stainless steel, Teg.|
|Bezel||60 click, Teg. steel||60 click, Teg. steel with Black Hard Coating||60 click, Teg. steel with Black Hard Coating|
|Bracelet||Stainless Steel||Stainless steel, Teg. with Black Hard Coating||Stainless steel, Teg.|
|Lug Width (mm)||22||22||20|
|Mass - Head Only (g)||113g||113g||74g|
|Caliber||Sellita SW 200-1||Sellita SW 200-1||Sellita SW 300-1|
|Power Reserve (hr)||38||38||38|
|Water Res. (m)||1000||1000||500|
|Crystal||Flat sapphire w/ clear AR coating on both sides||Flat sapphire w/ clear AR coating on both sides||Flat sapphire w/ clear AR coating on both sides|