This is the first compressor-case dive watch I’ve had the opportunity to review, and though I’ve seen many compressor divers over the years (and even own one myself), I’d never taken the time to actually research the technology. It’s important to note that most compressor diver offerings these days are not true compressors, which is why most of them (including the Bradner) are usually marketed as “compressor style”, or “vintage compressor” watches.
If ever there was a market lousy with the same-ol’ same-ol’, it would have to be the mid-range dive watch market! Well, that and possibly any midsize sedan! Generic black dive watches, with generic black bezels, on generic oyster bracelets? Yay! Hardly something to get excited about.
Spinnaker Watches makes stylized, SCUBA-inspired, water-oriented watches, and the Fleuss line is their new vintage diver throwback. It hearkens back to the original inventor of the SCUBA system, Henry Fleuss, and features a few interesting features both in the style and functionality. The Fleuss series comes in two models. The Spinnaker Fleuss SP-5056 is a bit more stylish with non-numerical indexes. The SP-5055 is a more traditional look with arabic numerals. Both feature exhibition casebacks.
As an experienced SCUBA diver (I’m PADI Rescue and NITROX certified and have somewhere around 200 dives), I was certainly interested in taking these two for a spin.
Each watch comes packaged nicely in a flat box, wrapped in tissue paper – I actually love these flat pack boxes and simple delivery – no pre-bend is put into the leather strap, they’re easy to store when not wearing, and transport easily.
The first striking feature of both models is certainly that bulbous bezel piece – harkening back to vintage Rolexs with a Bakelite bezel, this is certainly a unique look. I also appreciate the exhibition caseback – although not adding to the functionality, it always adds a bit of interest, especially when showing off to watch newbie friends.
Finally, in keeping with the trend, the Fleuss watches feature a leather strap with those nifty vintage-inspired waxed thread stitches at the pin and buckle ends. Although not as precisely executed as the strap on my Meistersinger Salthora Meta X, the strap does add interest to the pieces.
Fit and Finish
First and foremost, both pieces are very well assembled – substantial and solid cases, perfect dials, and precise clicks in the bezel.
The dials of each feature a very interesting textured finish, which adds to the weighty feel and look of the pieces – I think it certainly goes best on the slightly trendier 5056, and compliments the DLC-Black case.
Looking through the exhibition case-back, the Spinnaker logo is sharply laser engraved.
Last but certainly not least, the “C3 see-through luminous applied vintage-style curved semi-bulbous Acrylic bezel” stands out amongst almost all other divers I’ve worn. It adds a nifty glint to the face and adds just a little bit of magnification to the glowing numerals underneath to make them clearly legible and distinct. How well this wears and resists abrasion, though, remains to be seen. I’m certainly a fan of the metal and enamel bezel of my Seiko SKX009, and the ceramic bezel of my MetaX because they can both take a good amount of abuse and remain legible – but an Acrylic bezel seems like it might scratch, fog, or cloud after a few years of use, abuse, and exposure to salt water and UV light. Time will tell.
On the Wrist
Curved lugs, a gently curving caseback, and a compact profile make the Fleuss easily wearable. The leather straps are supple and nice, and I can easily get into wearing this as my “everyday”.
The style is distinct, and just subtle enough to make wearing to a party easy. Wearing on adventures, weekend trips, and around the house is a no brainer for these – they should be able to handle it all.
- C3 see through luminous applied vintage style curved semi bulbous Acrylic bezel – Not my favourite bezel ever, but I appreciate the style and motivation to go in this direction. Always better to do the stylish thing and try something different.
- Exhibition caseback – it’s cool and wows people. That said, it’s NOT a feature found on more serious divers watches, and is one of the elements that would prevent me from relying on this watch on a dive.
- Black DLC case – adds a distinct style, compliments the dark blue well.
My main bit of feedback here is simple: 150 meters? Come on! These watches are marketed as divers watches and are even named after the inventor of SCUBA. However, with only a 150m depth rating, they hardly qualify as real divers watches. Sure you’ll never really go that deep, but typically divers watches are rated to at least 200m for casual divers, 300m for “real” divers watches, and ofter 500 or 1,000 for true hardcore ones. Things like a 150m rating and exhibition caseback tell me that this is a cool piece to wear on weekend trips and to live the style of a diver, but if you’re a real diver looking for a real watch to rely on day in and day out on dives, keep looking. Spinnaker admits this on their site, slotting this watch in as suitable for Splashes, Swimming, Snorkeling, and Free Diving, but NOT Scuba Diving or Professional Deep Sea Diving.
- Case – Stainless steel
- Lens – Sapphire crystal Lens
- Dial – Normal
- Indexes – Applied BGW9 indexes
- Hands – C5 luminous hands
- Crown – Screw down crown
- Bezel – Stainless Steelunidirectional turning bezel with acrylic and luminous markers
- Case Back – See-through case back with customized rotor
- Case Diameter – 43.00mm
- Case Thickness – 13.25 mm
- Strap – Water proof genuine leather strap – Hand stitched
- Strap Width – 22.0 mm
- Buckle – Tang Buckle
- Functions – Date display, Elapsed time measurement
- Movement – Seiko TMI NH35
- MSRP – USD$285
Just in the past month I have had a chance to review a few watches from Spinnaker and I really like looks of what they offer. All their watches are of a nautical them and styles range from dressy to tool. They offer quartz, solar, and automatic movements so there are choices for just about anyone. I always tend to lean to automatic divers, so when I got a hold of this Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02 I was a pretty happy camper. I have been trying this out for a couple weeks now and so far so good.
Taking inspiration from the luxury wooden runabouts found on the Italian Mediterranean, Spinnaker has made the Spinnaker Vessel. Real wood for the bezel
This month, we have your chance to win a watch from the most popular style of watches there seems to be – a dive watch. Something about that promise of rugged durability in the face of adventure, I suppose. Which also means that it will handle bumping into your desk and doorframe at the office, no?
Spinnaker has a pretty good line of affordable, nautical themed watches. From sailing to diving, and quartz or automatic, there are plenty of choices. Of all the watches they offer, there is one that really stood out to me: the Spinnaker Dumas Vintage Diver.
After Baselworld showed us wonderful things from Breitling, Tudor, and Carl F. Bucherer, I want to take a moment and go back to the affordable end of the pool. I want to talk to you about the Spinnaker SP–5033 Cahill. This is one of my favorite affordable watches.