This is my first attempt at some kind of watch review. My limited horological knowledge and watch collecting experience have prevented me from doing it before. But now, since I appear to be the only person round here owning (simultaneously) a Sinn 757 and a Damasko DC66, and several people have expressed interest in some kind of comparison of these two, I decided to show a few comparative pics and summarize some of my thoughts. The pics are 800x600 (larger than the maximum resolution recommended on TZ-UK) to give more details, I hope this won't be a major problem for anybody. The expressed opinions and judgments are entirely subjective, based on my own preferences. I am no expert on watches, just an undeducated watch lover and collector. Needless to say, my English language skills are also quite limited, particularly out of my professional domain.
I have been having my 757 for 11 days, bought second-hand (but nearly new, although had two owners before me). Wearing it every day (for at least a few hours) since it arrived.
I bought my DC66 about 11 months ago. It has been constantly one of my favourite and most frequently worn watches.
According to my very imperfect measurements, both the watches have the same case diameter of about 42mm (without crown, crown guards, and pushers). The diameter of the bezel is 43mm on the Sinn and 44mm on the Damasko, where it protrudes beyond the case much more noticeably. The thickness of the watches is 15.5mm for the 757 and 14mm for the DC66. Both are about 49mm lug to lug. This is all measured with a toy caliper borrowed from my kid, so the absolute values may be inaccurate, but the differences should be sufficiently reliable.
The lugs are rather short on both watches making it quite difficult (but not impossible) to squeeze a thicker NATO-style strap (e.g., Rhino or Zulu) between the spring bar and the case.
I will focus only on case technology which gives both the watches their scratch resistance, as from my point of view this is their major practical advantage over other watches using the same movements and similar design. The ice-hardening technology of Damasko and the tegimentation technology of Sinn, although quite different, should be equally good for a typical user and prevent the cases from ever getting scratched under normal wearing conditions. On heavy abuse, the Damasko would probably be superior. Whereas ice-hardening gives uniform in-depth hardness, tegimentation gives an even higher, but only surface hardness. I haven't seen or heard of a damaged Damasko case. I have seen one tegimented Sinn 756 case with an ugly nick (not speaking about the deliberately destroyed watch that was once shown on timezone). But still I would say that both the technologies are good and roughly equivalent in most situations.
On the Damasko the crown, pushers, and back cover are all ice-hardened. On the Sinn, the crown and pushers are tegimented, but the back cover is not. Not sure about the reason. I remember reading one explanation saying it was necessary to make it nickel-free and anti-alergic. The Damasko hardened steel is said to be 100% nickel free, which might give it some advantage. I would prefer to have the Sinn's back cover tegimented if it were possible, but this is not crucial.
More importantly, the bezel insert of the DC66 has a scratch resistant "diamond-coating" whereas the 757 appears to be using an ordinary aluminum bezel insert. Mine has some very small marks near the luminous triangle which makes me more than sure it is not scratch resistant. For someone as scratch-o-fobic as me, the scratch-resistant bezel insert is the most important technological advantage of the DC66 over the 757.
I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on the practical importance and utility of other technological refinements present in both the watches, such as the self-lubricating crown and pushers and ceramic bezel ratchet elements of the Damasko or the dehumidifying capsule of the Sinn. As a matter of fact, I could live without at least some of those refinements as it would probably reduce the price of the watches and make it possible to have them fully serviced by any competent watchmaker, without sending them back to factory. Someone more knowledgeable would probably appreciate them better.
Damasko gives a very extensive technical specification on their web page (plus they engrave a summary on the back cover ). I wasn't able to find a similarly detailed specification of the 757 in English. Both the watches have the same level of anti-magnetic protection. The Sinn is rated WR 200m and the Damasko is rated WR 100m.
The main reason I wanted a 757 despite already having the DC66 was the dial design. I like the dials of the whole Sinn pilot watch family (656, 756, 856). I like those big numerals, oversized chrono registers, and a discrete date window. I am also one of the few who like the lack of constant seconds. I have several chronos without constant seconds (a Speedbird 1903 and a few vintage Seiko 6138s) and never missed this so widely desirable feature.
One thing that I was not quite sure about was the length of the hour and minute hand. Now when I have had and used the watch for several days I am comfortable with that length, although I was initially afraid I might find the hands too short. Actually, the hands are not only shorter, but also slimmer than on the DC66. Although somewhat fatter hands could provide a better balance for the big numerals, I think they fit the dial very well.
The Damasko is also a great looking watch, a real pleasure to look at, but I think the dial could benefit from some minor corrections. I agree with the popular opinion that the lack of distinguished 5-10-15-25 minute markers on the minute chrono register is not a good design decision. I am also not quite convinced to the idea of having both the "D" logo and the word "Damasko" printed on the dial (I would consider leaving the "Damasko" and removing the "D"). I also tend to feel there is too much gap between the word "Damasko" and the day-date window. These are just impressions, I haven't done any graphic simulations to see whether I would really like a modified dial more.
What definitely looks better on the Damasko than on the Sinn is the bezel insert. First, there is a choice between the elapsed time or GMT type inserts (or there was such a choice at the time the watch was available). I find the latter much more reasonable on a chrono and I have even asked Sinn whether they have alternative replacement bezels -- I've been told there are no alternatives. Second, the engraved numerals and indices look much better than the painted ones on the Sinn. I also prefer the more subtle indices and smaller numerals on the Damasko's bezel to the bold indices and numerals on the Sinn's bezel. Last but not least, I am not a big fan of the luminous triangle of the Sinn's bezel too much, rather preferring the more traditional idea of a luminous dot.
Overall look and feel
Overall, both the watches look and feel very good. I enjoy wearing them, looking at them, and keeping them in my hand very much. I have always liked the high-tech look of the matt grey Damasko steel, so entirely different from any other watch or any other metal item I have had. The tegimented steel of Sinn has a much more metallic look, in fact it looks more or less like ordinary 316L steel with a nice satin finish. For some people who find the Damasko steel looking almost like plastic the Sinn steel would casino be probably much nicer, but I like them both, despite the difference. The finish is very good on both, and they both give a very nice quality feel when rubbed with a finger.
I find both the 757 and the DC66 comfortable to wear on my moderately sized wrist. Being slightly thinner, the Damasko could be considered better balanced, but I haven't found the additional 1.5mm of the Sinn's height to be any problem. This may be because I generally like quite thick and heavy watches. The lugs of the DC66 are more curved down than those of the 757, but I cannot say it has any impact on the wearing comfort.
The AR coatings on the two watches are similarly effective and make them ultra-legible in most conditions. The lume brightness is also pretty much the same. Some people will find it weak and it indeed may look weak compared to some other watches (particularly Seiko divers), but I find it quite normal for white Luminova, and absolutely sufficient for providing basic night-time readability.
The bezel insert on the Damasko is not only scratch-resistant and better designed, it also looks better. Its slightly shiny surface makes it appear charcoal rather than black in normal light and combined with the deep blackness of the dial it creates an extremely pleasant effect. The bezel insert of the 757 looks fine, but there is nothing special to it. I wouldn't say it is better than on Seiko diver watches costing one order of magnitude less.
The non-tegimented back cover of the Sinn appears to have a slightly different (not feeling so silky smooth?) finish than the case. The engraving is very shallow, particularly compared to the DC66.
The chrono pushers give roughly the same resistance on both the watches. The crown of the DC66 screws down slightly more easily and smoothly than that of the 757.
The rotating bezels of both the watches are bi-directional and have 60 click ratchets. The bezel on the DC66 is quite hard to rotate, much harder than I expected, but it has absolutely no play and has very firm, positive clicks. I cannot imagine it ever rotated accidentally. The bezel of the 757 is much easier to rotate and rotates more smoothly, but has some little play and probably could be rotated accidentally. The ratchet sound on both the watches is rather dull, unlike the nice metallic sound I have previously experienced with Seiko divers (or the Precista PRS-17C).
The Damasko is known to have a chronometer-grade 7750 movement, regulated and adjusted to COSC standards. I have no knowledge about the grade of the 7750 in the Sinn. Anyway my experience is that both are extremely accurate to about 2 seconds per day. The DC66 suffers from the infamous jittering second hand problem, not uncommon for the Valjoux 7750, manifesting itself in a very jerky movement of the chronograph second hand. This is not officially considered a defect either by ETA or by most watch manufacturers and is supposed to have no effect on timekeeping and longevity of the movement. It really annoyed me a lot at first, but now I no longer care. The 757 exhibits no sign of this undesirable phenomenon.
I would love to say both are perfect, but my limited watch collecting experience shows that the true perfection does not exist, at least not in that price range. So I will say the quality of the two watches similarly good, they have no major flaws, but there are some minor imperfections. I don't think they are worth showing on pictures (and some of them would be quite difficult to show), but I will describe them briefly.
The Sinn has slightly misaligned hands -- the hour hand points to the exact hour index when the minute hand is some 3 minutes before the 12 o'clock index. There is also something like a small, very hardly noticeable grey stain on the black dial (I first noticed it one week after the watch arrived). I mentioned above some minor marks (surface scratches) on the bezel insert near the luminous triangle. The most likely hypothesis is that I caused these marks somehow myself, but since I am very careful about watches and I don't remember any situation when it could happen, I also have a less likely alternative hypothesis that they were caused by some improper handling in the factory. I noticed these marks on the third or fourth day since the arrival of the watch despite the fact I usually look at new watches very carefully, so I can imagine they may have passed unnoticed by both Sinn's QC and the previous owners.
On the otherwise perfect looking bezel insert of the Damasko there are some slight surface marks, maybe similar to fingerprints, visible when looking at a proper angle. This is probably some non-uniformity of the coating applied to the bezel insert. It doesn't bother me at all or change my opinion about the superiority of the Damasko's bezel insert, but I suppose this may considered be some minor finishing imperfection. The hands are aligned quite well compared to the 757, but there is another small issue. When I set the minute hand so that it points exactly to a certain minute index when the small constant seconds hand passes through the 0 position, the desired synchronization effect is only achieved within some area of the dial. When the minute hand moves to some other areas of the dial there is some more or less noticeable offset between the minute hand and the minute mark (up to about 1/5 of minute). I am not sure if there is a short common term for this phenomenon, but I hope I managed to describe it clearly. This kind of "inaccuracy" happens for many watches, actually I have seen this at least to some marginal extent in almost all watches I have had. I am not therefore very surprised that the DC66 does exhibit it too, but the offset observed in the Damasko is slightly bigger than I would like, and in particular slightly bigger than in the Sinn (where I performed the same test with the chrono running instead of the
missing constant seconds). By the way, I am not really sure what is the cause of this effect. Non-uniformity of indices? Inexact dial placement? The cannon pinion not exactly in the centre of the dial? It's not really half as serious as the length of the description might suggest, it is just my limited knowledge and language skills that prevented me from simply mentioning it in one sentence. By the way, the little chrono minute hand points to minute register indices accurately enough on both the watches.
I am trying to compare watches, not the manufacturers, but I believe at least for some people the image of the manufacturer might be a factor in judging the watch. Damasko is a small family company known only within the WIS world, with just a few watch models, probably assembled by a single person (Mr Konrad Damasko). Sinn -- although may be considered small and niche compared to high street brands -- is much bigger and more widely recognizable. I prefer the uniqueness and family business model of Damasko, but some could prefer Sinn for better recognizability and business maturity. One factor that has contributed considerably to spoiling the image of Damasko even among the enthusiasts of their products (including myself) is their almost non-existing customer support. No replies to emails and months of waiting for very simple warranty fixes! Whereas I have no experience with the Sinn service, I have verified at least that they do reply to emails quite promptly.
I can summarize my feelings about the two watches shortly as follows: I prefer the dial design of the Sinn, and I definitely prefer the look, quality, and scratch-resistance of the Damasko's bezel (particularly the insert). The cases, also using different technology and looking differently, are both beautiful and top quality. If I were forced to choose one of these two, I would choose the Damasko, but currently I really enjoy owning both of them.
The superiority of the bezel of the DC66 is not obtained for free, the watch costs more than the 757 (GBP 1135 vs. GBP 895 in UK prices). And more importantly, as we all know, the DC66 is hardly available and requires months of waiting. This may simplify the decision for those who consider buying one of these two great watches -- which are both near-perfect implementations of the contemporary mechanical toolwatch.