A Great Affordable Automatic Watch?: Spinnaker Watches Reviewed

A Great Affordable Automatic Watch?: Spinnaker Watches Reviewed

Disclaimer: Spinnaker Watches sent The Peak Lapel this watch for free for the purposes of this review.

Wearing an automatic wristwatch is an excellent way to class-up your look and feel as you get dressed each morning. Sure, Quartz watches are nice — and there is nothing at all wrong with them — but there is just something to a mechanical watch movement working all by itself that you just cannot quite put into words. Wearing such a feat of engineering on your wrist is just something else. The trouble? Most mechanical or full automatic watches are very pricey. Last time we looked at an automatic watch we discussed Orient — one of the best values on the planet in automatic watches. They have been around for many years and have quite a lengthy heritage behind their brand. 

Enter Spinnaker Watches. They are a new, young company that offers high quality automatic watches at affordable, and reasonable prices. No, they don’t have nearly the heritage or prestige that Orient has, but, if their watches are any good, they can still well be worth the price and be a great option at a lower price point for people that want to get an automatic watch that is reputable quality but that won’t break the bank. For this review, we took a look at reference number SP-5033-02 from their CAHILL collection ($380)

The Design

Spinnaker offers quite an array of watches, but they seem to largely focus on diver-inspired options. There are different color schemes available, with slight differences as well to the face or case shape, but many of their watches follow a very similar design aesthetic. Indeed, our watch was no different. For starters, this is clearly a dive watch inspired face. There are round hour markers and a rotating bezel. The markers luminous, and the crown is screw down — both nice details. The slight texture to the dial also adds some visual interest, but I cannot help but feel that the hour markers are simply oversized. Toning them down significantly would greatly enhance the look of this dial. They are just too big for the minute and hour hands.

Speaking of big — this watch is big. It’s 43mm in diameter and 16mm in thickness. It wears quite big on the wrist. Still, the black, almost gun-metal finish of the case is very nice and even striking in person. The details are all there — with an engraving on the crown and an exhibition case back with a very cool blue-colored movement. 

When we get to the strap I am torn. On the one hand, the color is nice, as well as the fact that the leather is treated so as to be waterproof. I also like that they throw in a high quality NATO strap as well. However, I don’t love the color of said NATO strap at all with this face. The leather band itself is absurdly thick. The thickest band I have ever seen on a watch by quite a few millimeters. And the fact that such an already big watch has an even bigger strap — or a NATO strap which raises the watch even higher up off the wrist — is not helping things. As you can see in the pictures, we swapped it our for a different band and found that it wore much nicer on the wrist.

The Details & Quality

This watch uses a Japanese Miyota 21 Jewels self-winding movement with a date display. Adjusting or setting the time feels very smooth and fluid, as does turning the bezel on the dial. Screwing down the crown is also very satisfying, and real attention was paid here. The watch is water resistant to 20 ATM, pretty standard for a diver watch. (That screw-down crown certainly helps things.) There is a Hardened Mineral Lens protecting the whole watch which is sure to hold up nicely over time. Finally, the movement is non-hacking.

In short, then, the specs here are quite nice. Nothing mind-blowing, but the quality is there and there has been nice attention paid to the finer details.

Value & Conclusion

Spinnaker Watches CAHILL collection — $380: These watches will very often go on sale down to close to $200. So, let’s get that out of the way. At that price, these watches are a good buy if you like the style. Again, they’re hefty and wear a bit on the bigger side. For the price, though, these are pretty well-made automatic watches. Nothing mind-blowing, again, but good enough for the price certainly. While it’s hard to argue that you should buy one of these instead of an Orient (you shouldn’t), there is certainly a place for both. Orient does not really make watches that are quite this ruggedly styled, and if this is something that you like, there is no question in our mind that Spinnaker should be a considered place when looking for affordable automatic watches.

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