Home Watch Types Automatic Spinnaker Watches: Hands-on

Spinnaker Watches: Hands-on

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Spinnaker is a company with a large catalogue of watches. They approached us to offer a few for review, and we said yes.

Here’s how this part of the process works. Some enterprising soul will email us and offer a review, and we’ll talk amongst ourselves about all the things right with what we see, and all the things wrong with it, and then Patrick will say we pass on it. He’s often right. We set out to only review the best of the best, the things that appeal to us.

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Sometimes, that goes a little awry.  For me, it’s about perspective. If I only looked at things that appealed to me, I’d never get a chance to broaden my horizons. It’s important to look at things that fall outside that which we’re normally attracted to, to examine our own narrow views, and to look at both the good and the imperfect in timepieces. Not everything will be perfect, but there’s something to learn from the imperfect, too. If the watchmaker has really tried to aim at something higher, I’d like to write about where they succeeded and where they need to dream a little bigger.

First. I normally don’t wear watches much bigger than 43mm. I prefer the 39mm size. I like watches that are on the thinner end of the range, 11mm or so; not ultra-thin, but comfortably so. This was the week that Patrick and I were both wearing gargantuan monstrosities, walking about lopsided from the added weight on one arm, dragging the pitiful excuses of a limb we call an arm further to the ground by sweet, sweet, inevitable gravity.

Patrick was wearing the Timemachinist Naval Destroyer, and I was wearing the Hass SP-5032-02 and Overboard SP-5023-02. We had a bit of a ‘whose ridiculous watch is larger?’ back and forth going. I lost.

This is actually a good thing. The Overboard describes itself on the Web site as a hulking timepiece. And so it is. I took it to a friend who knows almost nothing about watches and their costs, what’s inside, or, well, anything. He loved it. “It’s so big! Heavy! Perfect!” At 46mm, he’s not wrong.

And I admit, there are things I like about it. I got used to the weight. The silicone strap felt pretty high grade (1st generation silicone as opposed to recycled, I suspect.) and it wore comfortably. While Patrick bemoans, “not another open heart dial,” I’m not completely burned out on them yet.

Let’s talk about the details they got right. The dial is machined and has several different things going on, and yet doesn’t look busy. Dial design is hard, and they got it right. The hand length is almost good. The Minute hand extends to reach the hour indices, and falls short of reaching the minute track. I prefer handsets where the minute hand reaches the minute track, or else how do you line up which minute you’re on very well?

Look at the depth of the dial details. Machined waves, indice ring with indices, open heart ring, chapter ring, and 1000M marker.
Look at the depth of the dial details. Machined waves, indice ring with indices, open heart ring, chapter ring, and 1000M marker.

The bezel had positive clicks and lined up accurately every time. The red detail on the crown is nice. There’s a helium valve, which is useful if you’re coming up to surface in a hyperbaric chamber (read: you’re not likely to ever need this valve).

So what went wrong? The lume. The lume is shamefully weak. They say it’s Swiss SuperLuminova. So why on earth is it so weak? I don’t know. It simply can’t hold up against other watches that were laying around, including the Seiko Orange Monster, the SkyWatch that Patrick reviewed, among others.IMG_3470

Stylistically, there are some questionable choices here. The Spinnaker watches, both of them, engrave the Spinnaker name on the side of the case opposite the crown. However, the Hass uses a font that I’d characterize as inspired by 1950s American automobiles, or 1950s Frigidaire refrigerators. The Overboard uses an entirely different font. I don’t know why they don’t have consistent branding. (Ed.: Spinnaker informs us that the Hass uses a font reserved for their ‘vintage’ range, while Overboard uses a font for their ‘diver’ and ‘core’ range.)  The Overboard has the name engraved into a plate, and the plate is then screwed into the side of the case. This seems like the opposite of the dial, where the dial succeeded at having lots of elements and not being busy, the side of the case is busy with just a few elements. Similarly, they engraved He -> with the arrow pointing at the valve. I wouldn’t have thought they needed to brag on the valve, but there it is. The straps on Overboard are held on with Very Large Screws.

Do you have to point out the Helium Escape valve? Should you?
Do you have to point out the Helium Escape valve? Should you?

In all other respects, this is a 1000m water resistant watch, with a nice dial, and open heart movement. It’s kind of fun, and would be a lot more interesting to me if it had some of the frippery taken off it and better lume. I imagine the asymmetric sail (which is what Spinnaker takes their name from) will be somewhat polarizing as the 12 oclock indice, but I can handle that.

So let’s talk about the Hass for a moment. The Hass is still plenty large in the scheme of things. It’s a 43mm watch that feels much more diminuitive than the bigger Overboard. The height of it helps – it’s a little thinner, 16mm instead of 20mm.IMG_3483

I received the orange dial movement, and noticed right away that the orange dial has a texture to it. This is a nice touch. It’s got two subdials, one of which is the seconds, and the other is a 24h dial. This is not a GMT, it simply repeats the center mounted hour hand. I’m not sure what point that serves, using a regulator movement and then giving it two center mounted hands at the same time. Unfortunately, the subdials and their hands aren’t large enough to be very useful as a regulator.IMG_3480

The insert looked good, but the bezel didn’t line up correctly with the indice at 12. The crown was fine. The case back showed the 8129 with it’s Geneva stripes and mostly-open rotor, which has been blued for a nice look.

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Did I mention lume previously? I think I said something about lume. Guys. Ladies. When you’re making a watch, please don’t skimp on the lume. Here, they have applied hour indices that look to be made out of steel, and then they stenciled or silkscreened the lume on top of them. This looks like amateur hour. The indices should have machined depressions in their top surface that the lume then fills.

The lume is just screened on top of the indices.
The lume is just screened on top of the indices.

The strap is a “genuine waterproof leather” which was quite uncomfortable. The unusual thing about this strap is that it has a tab that continues under the buckle, so that your wrist is never in contact with the buckle.  This didn’t make it any more uncomfortable, although it took some getting used to in order to buckle the strap.

An unusual leather tab under the buckle.
An unusual leather tab under the buckle.

The Overboard uses the NH35 Seiko movement. The Hass uses the 8129 Miyota regulator movement. They’re both competent movements, and I take no issue with them. I think the 8129 could have been used to better effect. The good news about the Hass is that it weighs 100 grams, so it’s not a weightlifter’s watch. The Overboard is more than double that, weighing in at 220grams.

Of the two, the one that’s most successful for me is the Overboard. Had you asked me this before I had them in my hands, I would have leaned to the smaller, lighter, Hass. That didn’t happen. If I had to sum up my experience in one sentence to the manufacturer, it would be, “don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.” For the money being asked, the details could be better executed.

Spinnaker Watches is generously offering a 40% discount to WristWatchReview readers who use the discount code “WWR40” in Spinnaker Watches’ online store. http://spinnaker-watches.com

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Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Spinnaker Overboard
  • Price: €475 (~ $527)
  • Who we think it might be for: You want a big watch, and it has to look better than an Invicta.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I like it overall, but I have some reservations about some of the choices, but I don’t “€475 like it.” At the Amazon price it’s a lot more palatable.
  • If I could make one three design suggestions, they would be: Improve the lume. Don’t use the Spinnaker plate on the side of the case. Don’t label the HE valve.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The machined aspects of the dial.

Tech Specs from Spinnaker

  • Case size: 46mm, 20mm thickness
  • Weight: 220 grams
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: silicone
  • Movement: Seiko NH35 with open balance wheel

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Spinnaker Hass
  • Price: €495 (~ $550)
  • Who we think it might be for: You’re unique. You like things with a bit of flair. Orange is your go-to, but you need something other than an Orange Monster
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not at this price point.
  • If I could make one a few design suggestions, they would be: Fix the lume. Use a better strap. Decide on consistent branding language for the whole Spinnaker brand. Make better use of the subdials.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The textured dial, strong applied indices, and the almost classic, petite bezel insert.

Tech Specs from Spinnaker

  • Case size: 43mm, 16mm thickness
  • Weight: 100
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp
  • Movement: Miyota 8129

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The detailing of the spinnaker competes well with the other branded watches. You could surely say that investing on this item is a smart choice. To help you select better, here are more wholesale watches to help you obtain the right watch at an affordable price.

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