The Thinnest 300 Meters Dive Watch
Spinnaker is one of these brands you most likely have heard of before watching YouTube videos or scrolling through the enormous amount of watch images on Instagram. It’s a brand that has been around for a decade and that has made a name for itself for producing good quality watches for a very reasonable price. Early critics lamented that Spinnaker was mostly producing vaguely resembling homages. But now the brand has been focusing on creating original designs with better specifications as it is the case with the Spence.
Right off the bat, Spinnaker introduced their latest model, the Spence, as being the thinnest 300 meters dive watch in the world. That’s a big statement to make, and although I did find it to be quite presumptuous, I was curious. As soon as I strapped the watch on my wrist, I concurred: it’s darn thin. It’s funny that I would be wearing this watch right after getting my hands on the Nomadic Maraí 401, a Black Bay 58 homage with a thin case profile (11.5mm.) However, the Spence beats it by being only 10.5mm thick. (Or thin?)
Other specifications that will interest you: the dial has a diameter of 40mm, a lug-to-lug distance of 47.5mm. The watch, as you have guessed it already, wears thin on the wrist. However—and has its name indicate—the exceptional wearability does not come at the expense of performance. Indeed, the Spence has a water resistance of 300 meters, a slightly domed sapphire crystal, and a high-end Miyota 9039 under the hood. The 120-click bezel is tight and has no back play.
Most of the case displays a fine brushed finish with highly polished chamfers, and a fully brushed bracelet. The latter is interesting as it has a three-link construction (a la Rolex) but the links are small and thin, giving the bracelet a strong air of elegance. The clasp—which will change on the production models—has a double-pusher deployment system and a safety latch and plenty of micro-adjustment holes.
The lume—I know you were about to ask!—is quite nicely applied and has a yellow-ish tint, however Spinnaker does not specify which blend it is.
I’m going to be honest in saying that Crimson Red is not my favorite of all available colors (Sea Green, Indigo Blue, Pitch Black and Hickory Brown.) But I’ve got to say it calls for attention and wearing this watch has forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I tend to stick to black or gray dials and it’s nice to sometimes do something a little different. Setting the dial color aside, there are many points of interest about the design which I would like to highlight.
The Broad Arrow handset works so nicely on a diver and I wish we could see it more often. It was seen recently on the Serica 5303 and re-creations from Nivada Grenchen. Although this handset first appeared on a chronograph, the Omega Speedmaster, it works well on a diver. Matching the hands, the big circular and baton-style hour markers add to the legibility, so does the inverted triangle at the 12 o’clock position.
One of my favorite design elements is the bezel. It’s flat and slightly wide, however the cherry on top for me is the fully-graduated bezel. This is actually as smooth to look at as is melted butter on a freshly baked piece of bread. To me, every diver should come with it as it makes timing a dive or how long your dish has been cooking for easier and more precise. Furthermore, it creates uniformity as the minute indices on the bezel echo the ones on the minute track on the dial.
Adding to the deep Crimson Red are subtle blue color accents, both on the dial where the text reads “1000ft/300m” but also on the lollipop of the seconds hand. Text is kept to a minimum with the embossed gray logo at the 12 o’clock position and one additional word underneath the pinion: “Spence.” This watch is definitely a tool watch that can do many things. As its dimensions indicate—and has its massive crown indicates too—it can be worn in many situations but definitely feel comfortable diving.
Looking at the watch from a broader perspective, I’d say it’s a nice package. The dimensions are great, the design is simple and bold all at once, and Spinnaker added just enough oomph to give the Spence personality without offending anyone. And if you don’t like Crimson Red, now you know you have several options to choose from when it comes to dial colors. I forgot to mention that the Spence is shipped with a leather strap which makes the watch even more versatile than you may have thought at first.
The Heart of the Matter
This will be a quick section because the Spence is pretty straightforward. By releasing this model and by looking at their previous catalog, Spinnaker seems to be continuously evolving to create better and more unique watches. As mentioned in the introduction, some of their first models were a little too much inspired by something else, but it isn’t the case here. True, some of you might say that the handset or hour markers have been used before. Yes, they have, but find me a brand that creates 100% original designs and I’d gladly side with you.
What’s great about brands like Spinnaker is that they find creative ways to personify key design elements that make a dive watch a dive watch, or a chronograph a chronograph. They take the best of what has worked in the past and add their own style. At $600, the Spence offers outstanding specifications and especially boosting 300 meters of water resistance for only 10.5mm in thickness. This alone shows that Spinnaker does not find contentment putting “300m” on their dial.
Lastly, I would say that Spinnaker belongs to a group of brands coming out from Asia that have flipped our perspective on Asian-made timepieces. Until a few years ago, whenever the words “watches” and “Asia” were strung together in a sentence, we thought of Chinese replicas of Rolexes. It must have been difficult for Spinnaker, amongst other brands, to move beyond this. And the way the brand has been evolving makes sense: first release cheap homage-style watches with great specs to get a foothold on the independent brand market. Then, create your own designs.
There are more than a couple of brands that have followed that path and they all have been successful.
I love divers. Although the Spence is not a perfect watch for me, as no watch is, I think Spinnaker did a great job offering a solid piece of horology for a reasonable price and which comes with a personality of its own. The market for this kind of watch at this price point is very tight, and brands have to continuously work harder to make something a little different to stand out from the crowd. Although the Spence is the first Spinnaker I see in person, I think it’s one of their most handsome models to date.
Thanks for reading.