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.
Well, sound the rallying cry, because in steps Spinnaker with some really unique offerings at really affordable prices. I was handed the Spinnaker Croft automatic to test drive and let me assure you: it is no generic midsize sedan.
The color variation that I had for review was the SP-5058 (a timidly tropical bronze treatment). At first glance, it seems rather unobtrusive and the treatment of the dial is nice and subtle. From the center, it flares out from a nice tropical aged bronze to a deep umber (almost black, but not quite) color. The texture is a fine sandpaper finish which the folks over at Spinnaker have used before to great effect on their Cahill line, and once again, really sets the tone for something… not quite ordinary.
On first inspection, the finish on the case seems right up to par with what I have come to expect from Spinnaker: clean, nicely proportioned with excellent contrasting between brushing and polished chamfers. The bezel has a satisfying and solid click with minimal amount of splash, and the insert is a fully marked dark matte gray that looks very much like ceramic (it’s not, it is aluminum). The bezel insert is one of my few gripes (if I was getting extremely nit-picky). I have looked at this at many angles, and even under a loupe, and everything seems to line up nicely except the :30 minute hash mark. If it were a number, (or even a dot) I wouldn’t have noticed it at all, but it is a thin triangle pointing right at the 6:00 position. Or, it would, if it weren’t pointing just a smidge to the left of the 6:00 position. It is just a hair off, but as they say… what has been seen, cannot be unseen. It is actually so minor I almost don’t want to bring it up, but alas, it is there, so it has to be mentioned here. It may possibly be an issue with this sample as all the other markers seem to line up perfectly.
Unlike the Cahill line, the Croft series has been given an updated crystal, and this is a seriously nice feature of the watch. Here, we have a nice rounded edge sapphire crystal. This design offers yet another layer of texture with some great distortion on the edges to keep everything interesting, no matter what angle you are viewing the watch at. Although it doesn’t dome, it sits just proud of the bezel and looks like its worth much more than its price tag suggests. It also has a round bubble magnifier situated over the date window to accent the vintage vibes the dial color and texture are putting out. I know what you’re thinking: “A date magnifier? Really?” But, to my eye, it’s a nice touch. Perhaps it would have been another level of awesome to see it as an internal date magnifier, but then again, you would not have been able to remove it if you didn’t appreciate it, so perhaps the Spinnaker clan was thinking ahead all along.
“How’s the lume on the Croft?” you say. I’m so glad you aske.! You like lume? The Croft has it in spades. Now, I’m not going to present to you as if I did some sort of scientific and timed lume experiment with the watch. Instead, I performed my usual lume test. I hit it with the LED lamp in the kitchen for about 20 seconds and went to bed. Technical, I know. However, don’t let my lack of scientific method fool you. Because the only information I need to know (and let’s face it, the only test that really matters) is, can I read the time when I wake up in the middle of the night? The answer is a resounding yes, easily. After about 6.5-7 hours, the time was still legible and the lume was still bright upon drifting off to slumber land. I call that a win on any watch!
So have we finally come to the kicker? The deal breaker? The end all/be all of watch snobbery? Why, yes we have! “All this sounds great, Jason! What sort of engine is the Croft running under the hood?”
To some, the answer is going to be a huge turn off. This is mostly due to the fact that they won’t read any more, and feel like I have over-represented the watches attributes right off the rails! The Croft is powered by the Miyota 8208. While the movement is a non-hacking movement, it does offer some very nice features that you don’t see every day. The first thing you notice when looking at the dial layout is the offset sub seconds hand in the 4:30 position. This position gives the watch a quirky character that sets it apart of pretty much anything else you have currently in the watch box. The Miyota 82** line is known for its robustness and its ease of operation. We have basics like hand-winding and a quick set date (probably both features you would not find on true vintage pieces that lend their inspiration to this one). The lack of the hacking feature means little to me day-to-day, but I know it is the norm. One of the cooler features of having the seconds hand as a small sub-dial is that you don’t have to see that slight stutter of the hand due to the mid-beat movement. It is smooth like butter, baby!
If you’re still reading this, it means that you might still be interested. The Croft is a lot of watch for what is an incredibly affordable investment. It comes with a signed screw-down crown, a great quality leather strap, see-through case back with deep notches to prevent caseback tool slippage, a little stealth dial printing (to keep things uncluttered), and a thoroughly modern 43mm case, rounding out some other great attributes of the Croft automatic.
What would I like to see executed differently? Perhaps a smaller case size (38-40mm) would lend itself to the vintage feel of the piece, although I know the 43mm is the safer route in today’s market. I think the “Spinnaker” name on the case side is a little too much (although it is nicely executed, and not as conspicuous as other brands. I’m looking at you Squale!) If the Croft comes in a presentation package half as nice as their Cahill of similar size and price, then you are in for a real treat.
Lastly, let’s please talk about the B-word: Bracelet. Some buyers are movement snobs (try not to consider this an insult), but I am a bracelet snob. It isn’t that I require “the perfect bracelet,” I don’t. I’m not that particular about the endlinks. Even a boring oyster bracelet is better than nothing. But not having any bracelet option is sometimes the difference between me parting with my hard earned cash, and clicking the link of the next watch I see. If you’d like a Spinnaker Croft SP-5058, they’re available for pre-order for $320 at Spinnaker’s site.
- Brand & Model: Spinnaker SP-5058 Croft
- Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $320
- Who we think it might be for: You like to a dive watch, but it doesn’t have to be a Submariner style diver.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I’m really into it.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: a little less branding on the side of the case, and a little more bracelet might be interesting
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The dome of the crystal
Tech Specs from Spinnaker
- Case size: 43mm
- Height: 12mm
- Case material: steel
- Crystal: sapphire
- Strap: water-resistant leather, 22mm
- Movement: Miyota 8208