This review was first published on Scottish Watches on September 15, 2019
When Spinnaker first approached me and offered to send me one of their watches they sent me links to the Croft, Wreck, and Fleuss. I had seen some of their watches on Instagram and I knew that some of my watch friends were impressed with the standard of the watches for the price point, so I was definitely interested in checking them out. What I hadn’t appreciated was the number of collections that they have and the number of versions within each collection. There really is a vast array of options on their website with a number of different case styles, finishes, movements, colours, in some ways it was a little overwhelming.
Spinnaker is not a brand with a long, storied history. Spinnaker draws inspiration from the world and lifestyle of yachting, they design watches for use on land and on the water. My knowledge and experience of yachting doesn’t extend much beyond having a couple of beers on the back of my friend’s boat. I love the idea of learning to sail, using new skills and knowledge to go on adventures. I googled “Spinnaker” and it is a type of large lightweight sail that’s useful for a wide range of angles for catching the wind, it sort of looks like a parachute. Spinnaker use a stylised sail motif on the crowns of their watches, which is a nice little detail.
Having been given a choice, I had to narrow down the options to decide which one to go for. Obviously this is fairly subjective, I have a few general preferences that helped to inform my decision. I prefer three-handed watches with a central second hand rather than a sub-dial for running seconds. I also prefer the look of watches without the date, although I do find the date to be a very useful complication (the age-old debate). If a watch does have a date I would prefer it if it didn’t have some kind of magnifying cyclops over it. These two factors ruled out the Croft for me so it became a choice between the Fleuss and the Wreck. Both watches have 43mm cases, which is at the upper end of what I wear but still comfortable and appropriate for a dive watch. The Fleuss has a 12mm thick case that’s 51mm lug-to-lug and the Wreck has a 14.5mm thick case that’s 50mm lug-to-lug. The lug to lug width was definitely one of the deciding factors for me. Yes, I know there is only 1mm difference but what I have found with watches in the past is that if I go much beyond 50mm the case starts to overhang my wrist and look a bit odd. I am sure that in reality, the difference between 51mm and 50mm would not be that great but I used it as a factor for helping to inform my decision.
I then read the descriptions of the Fleuss and the Wreck. The Fleuss is a vintage inspired dive watch. The name comes from Henry Fleuss a pioneering diving engineer and master diver who got a patent for an improved rebreather in 1878 (according to Wikipedia). The Fluess has a bit of a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms look about it.
The Wreck is inspired by wreck diving, exploring shipwrecks or aircraft under the sea and seeing what they look like after years of slowly decaying. I liked the idea of the Wreck, I felt that it was something a bit different and characterful so I decided to go with one of the eight available wreck models.
Now, I know that faux patina is a bit of a chalk and cheese issue when it comes to watches. People seem to either love it or hate it. Personally, I think it is all about the context. The Spinnaker Wreck is inspired by wrecks that you might see under the sea, they have tried to create a patina that is reminiscent of the slow decay that happens under the sea. They are not a brand with a long history so they have not tried to recreate a watch from fifty or sixty years ago and give it off-white lume. They have taken a different approach and I like it. I think the watch looks rugged, it has a used tool watch charm but at the same time is a new modern watch so you can be confident that it will work well and be reliable.
The case and bezel on the Wreck are finished by hand so each one will be subtly different in the way it looks. I went for the Distressed IP Rose Gold Case with the green dial and green aluminium bezel. At 43mm the case is quite large but it has relatively slender lugs and no crown guard so it wears well on the wrist. I think that green makes a pleasant change from the usual black or blue dials. The dial itself almost looks like an old green leather armchair, it is finished well in-keeping with the rest of the look. The watch has relatively large indices and is easy to read. I like the 6 and 9 on the dial, I think it would look even better if the date was switched out for a 3 and if this was a no-date model, again this is just my personal preference. The lume on the watch is okay, it is stronger in the hands than the indices, depending on how you would intend to use the watch this is something to keep in mind. The watch has a hardened mineral crystal which offers a reasonable level of scratch resistance. It also has a water resistance rating of 10ATM (100m). Inside it has a Seiko NH35 automatic movement, a respectable workhorse movement. You can see the movement through an exhibition case back, the rotor has the company name and logo on, which is a nice touch.
The watch was supplied on a slightly distressed green leather strap with a buckle that matches the case of the watch. I do think that this is a watch that will lend itself to distressed leather straps. The only issue you may encounter is matching the hardware of third party straps to the case. Alternatively, you could match it with a modern NATO strap as a contrast, in much the same way that people wear vintage dive watches on modern NATO straps. Personally I would predominantly stick with the OEM leather strap because it is such a good match.
So how and where would I wear this watch? I think that realistically this is not a watch you would wear for diving, it’s water resistance is okay, I imagine a leather strap isn’t the most comfortable for diving, the dial contrast and lume could be better, but I don’t think that is really what this watch is intended for. It is inspired by wreck diving and it looks good for it. I think this is a watch for on deck or in the bar. It is not a watch that I would wear with a suit and tie to work. I very much see this as a fun high days and holidays watch. I can imagine wearing it with jeans and a t-shirt at a BBQ or in shorts on the back of a boat while drinking beer. The spec of the watch is certainly sufficiently “tool watch” that you could wear it when walking, camping and exploring without having any concerns about its performance. It is definitely a fun watch at a good price ($280/£220) and worth considering as an alternative weekend warrior watch to a Seiko.