It’s been six months since the release of our last limited-edition, the 36 mm bronze tribute to the Mark 11 that we created in collaboration with IWC. The watch came fitted on a 200-year old Russian reindeer hide NATO strap, made by British bespoke shoemaker George Cleverley… and yes, we’ve also noticed that this leather starts to take on the olfactory qualities of Chinese barbequed pork with time. And we’re incredibly grateful to everyone in the Revolution fam that helped us to have all 150 examples of this watch sold out in 18 minutes.

Moving into fall and into the next year, which marks Revolution’s XV anniversary, I’m proud to unveil our vision for reviving past icons: vintage watches that I always dreamed of owning but due to rarity or cost, found prohibitive.

And of course, each revival will be accompanied by a subtle Revolution twist. First up, in this series is, not only one of our best-looking collaborations to date, but at US$ 2,500, also one of our most affordable.

Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)

It’s important to note that with this and all our future collaborations, Revolution and our brand partners are dedicated to factoring in as much value, and pricing our watches accessibly, so as to pass on the savings to our loyal readers. This is our way of saying a big thank you for the 15 years of readership you’ve given us.

I couldn’t be prouder to announce our new limited edition watch, the Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr “Dark Star”. Since I can remember, Sinn has been one of my favorite watch brands. It has always epitomized iconic tool watch styling, with incredible robustness and unbeatable value. Its innovations include TEGIMENT, a way of massively increasing the surface hardness of steel; Argon gas capsules that act as humidity indicators inside their cases, and even DIAPAL lubricant free escapements, featuring synthetic diamond pallets.

What I didn’t realize when commissioning this watch in Baselworld 2018 from Sinn’s incredible Volker Wiegmann, was that it would be launched during a period where prices for the brand’s two previous Sinn 155 Bunderswehr re-editions would be reaching impressive secondary values.

1967 – 1990 — The Original Bundeswehr 1550 SG and the Sinn Model 155 Bw

The Bundeswehr watch was designed for military pilots, created for the West German Federal Defense Force (Bundeswehr). They were initially made by a company called Leonidas, which was later purchased by Heuer.

It was driven by a Valjoux manual-wind caliber 222 with Incabloc shock protection, 36-hour power reserve, flyback function and hacking feature. It would thus have been identified as a Heuer-Leonidas movement, and would be replaced by the similar caliber 230.

70's Heuer Bundeswehr 1550 SG with Classic 3H/T Dial (Image: hqmilton.com)
70's Heuer Bundeswehr 1550 SG with Classic 3H/T Dial (Image: hqmilton.com)
4-screws on the caseback of a 70's Heuer Bundeswehr 1550 SG (Image: hqmilton.com)
4-screws on the caseback of a 70's Heuer Bundeswehr 1550 SG (Image: hqmilton.com)

The watch featured two pushers for the chronograph functions, with two subdials. The counter at nine o’clock showed real-time seconds while the dial at three o’clock was a 30-minute counter. Oversized Arabic numerals, straight hands and a “Concorde”-shaped tip for the chronograph sweep-seconds hand all combined to create a supremely legible watch.

However, the signature design element was the bezel. The watch had a distinctive, extremely wide, black bi-directional bezel with semi-matte finish, a large, white triangle at its zero point and Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45.

Sinn’s role in this story came during the 1980s and early 1990s when Mr Helmut Sinn purchased phased-out watches from the inventories of the Bundeswehr and sold these after reconditioning with, inter alia, added SINN lettering on the dial under the label “Bundeswehr Chronograph for Pilots” as the Model 155 Bw.

It was during this period that the luminous materials used were changed from the earlier radioactive substance to something safer, hence the dials with “3H” (Hydrogen-3) to denote the conversion. Some versions of the dial also included a small “t” on top of the 6 o’clock index that also referred to the presence of tritium.

All watches were fitted with a “Bund” style double layer strap, which was meant to protect the pilot’s skin in the case of extreme temperatures. They were produced from 1967 to 1990 when Germany was reunified, and the Bundeswehr was restructured. Today a nice example of a Bundeswehr 1550 SG will cost anywhere from US$ 5,000 to well above US$ 10,000.

2005 & 2008 — The Only Sinn Bundeswehr Re-Editions to Date

The 2005 Sinn 155 Bundeswehr made for the Japanese market ref. 155.020 (200-piece Limited Edition)
The 2005 Sinn 155 Bundeswehr made for the Japanese market ref. 155.020 (200-piece Limited Edition)
2008 Sinn 155 Bundeswehr made for Manufactum ref. 155.030 (272-piece Limited Edition)
2008 Sinn 155 Bundeswehr made for Manufactum ref. 155.030 (272-piece Limited Edition)

In 2005, Sinn created a 200-piece re-edition of the Bundeswehr watch for the Japanese market. According to lore, the manufacture found 200 additional cases intended for military watches and put them together with a hand wound Valjoux 7760 movement, the identical military style bezel and dial, now with Super Luminova instead of Tritium; syringe shaped hands from their 103 Flieger pilots watches and an original spec Bund strap. Incredibly, these retro modern watches have become cult collectables and the asking price for a good quality watch is now US$ 4,000 to US$ 5,000.

In 2008, Sinn created a second 272-piece limited edition homage to the Bundeswehr watch this time using an automatic Valjoux 7750 for German dealer Manufactum. Though the case, bezel and hands were identical to the military watches, this time the dial featured a day and date window at 3 o’clock. Also, the sub seconds counter was suppressed and in place a minute, as well as an hour totalizer, appeared. Note that while the 2005 Japanese edition has a 4-screw military style case back, this watch featured a more modern screw down caseback and did not come with a Bund Strap.

2019 — The Dark Star Rises

Now, a full 12 years later Sinn has finally reissued the 155 Bundeswehr this time in collaboration with Revolution. This is the rarest of the three re-editions with just 150 examples made. It features the exact same case, bezel and domed plexiglass crystal as the vintage military watches and the Japanese re-edition. But this time, the hands and dial have been treated with specially colored Super Luminova to perfectly evoke the look of aged tritium of the vintage watches. The bezel has similarly been given a subtle “ghost” effect to give it the appearance of having been faded by time and the sun.

Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)
Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr "Dark Star" (Image © Revolution)

The movement of the watch is the more practical, automatic Sellita SW510. However, the dial is of the two-counter design in strict accordance with the military design. The caseback here reverts back to the 4-screw design of the vintage military watches. It comes not only with the original equipment Bund strap, but also a second heavy duty Desert Sand colored NATO strap with heavy duty keepers as well as a changing tool and display box. Finally, in place of the 3H logo you will find a subtle black star that can only be seen in direct light endowing the military chronograph with its sobriquet the Dark Star.

As mentioned the price of the Sinn x The Rake & Revolution 155 Bundeswehr “Dark Star” is just US$ 2,500 making it approximately half the cost of the current value of the 2005 Japanese 200-piece limited edition watch.