I’m a guy that rarely jump into, for me, new and undiscovered brands. Watches, shoes, clothes, food or shampoo, I know what I prefer and to switch those to try something new is, 90% of the time, out of the question. Give me a pair of Adidas sneakers, a Levi jeans and a vegetarian pizza and I’m happy for hours. It’s time for a change and on my wrist, you’ll find the Spinnaker Croft, the burgundy version with model number SP-5058-09. Along with AVI-8, Ballast, DUFA, Earnshaw, Fjord and James McCabe, Spinnaker is a brand you’ll find under the Dartmouth Brands umbrella. From low- to mid-range prices, Dartmouth offers watches in different segments, where Spinnaker oversees the maritime environment, along with it’s big, little brother Ballast.
I must admit that my mind goes into a quite strict mode when a new brand knocks on the door. Even the mailman gets a firm stare while he hands the package over to me. The size and weight, the sensation of no parts moving when shacking the box, the wrapping and the smell are all part of the first impressions. At several occasions, I have wondered if I have bought a bottle of eau de toilette instead of a watch as the package smelled like an old gentleman’s perfume or the times when you know the watch has been stored in an old attic or a moist basement, having that particular odor that never goes away.
The Spinnaker Croft made it through all the first obstacles, with ease.
In a small, blue cardboard box you’ll find the watch, alongside with a microfiber cloth and a little folder with information about Spinnaker on social media and an offer of a discount when you purchase another watch. Nu fuzz, simple and easy, and with the delicious smell of a new watch!
The Croft SP-5058-09 is one of Spinnakers newer models in this series, paying tribute Robert Croft, the US Navy Diving instructor who, back in 1967, was the first person to free dive to depths of 200ft. With this watch, Spinnaker has created a timepiece that has a lot of ups and a few downs, and I’ll guide you through why I feel like I do with this quite charming burgundy.
Being priced as an entry level divers watch, the Spinnaker Croft has a lot of good, and safe, opponents to beat to be the chosen wrist companion. Some of the key elements in this range are the price and what specs you’ll get when splashing a few hundred dollars. At $320, the Spinnaker Croft offers a quite cool, vintage design, a very textured, faded dial, marine grade, stainless-steel case, screw-down crown, sapphire crystal, an automatic movement and some bright Super Luminova®. There’s no doubt that this watch should be in every discussion that’s about bang for bucks and if you want to step out of the comfort zone and choose something else than the obvious divers, the Croft comes in twelve different combinations, making it easy to find the one that suits you.
Taking a closer look at the specifications and the looks, the Croft reveals both its nice features and some elements that could be improved. Some of them are just my taste in how things look, but some of them are small issues that could have been done better. The main attraction is the face, the boxed sapphire crystal with the circular magnifier over the date window at nine o’clock, the burgundy bezel, the textured, faded dial with applied indexes, filled with a delicious amount of Super Lumoniva®. The brass frame that keeps the glowing substance in place is very sharp and looks great with the deep red dial. The broad hands have the same touch and offers a very good readability. To get the desired looks, Spinnaker has used the Miyota 8218, a reliable movement that allows the small seconds being placed at 4:30. With the 8218 you’ll get a 21-jewel movement, beating at 21600bph, offering a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. Being used to different movements, I was a bit surprised when I was manually winding the watch for the first time. It felt like there was a lack of resistance and I wondered if this was how it was supposed to be? After a while I got used to this new sensation and I can assure you that this is exactly how the 8218 should feel. If you are into maximum accuracy, this movement doesn’t offer hacking seconds, but then again, you’re probably looking for more expensive chronometers and won’t be bother with that issue.
The matt, 120 click, unidirectional bezel has a fair amount of grip from its coined edge. The luminous pip will easily give you the information you need if using the watch in the dark, beneath the surface where it’s supposed to be.
The screw-down crown at three o’clock is nicely sized and is easy to operate and will secure the watch properly, preventing it from getting flooded, at least if you stay above depths of 150 meters (500 feet).
At the back, you’ll see the Miyota movement and the black Spinnaker-branded rotor through the exhibition caseback. Even if it’s not a complicated, high-end engine, it’s nice to be able to watch some jewels and moving parts.
The stainless-steel case measures 43mm across, without the crown, and 51mm from lug to lug. Being 15mm from top to bottom and a cool 110 grams, the height and weight will let you know that something is strapped onto your arm. The finish on the case is good, as finely brushed sides and curves, combined with polished edges, add an amount of refinement to the slightly bulky appearance of the Croft. The 22mm, burgundy, water resistant, genuine leather strap is of good quality and lets you wear the millimeters and grams very comfortably.
So far, all is good, but there are some issues that leaves this watch in the section where the unlikeable parts of mass production appear. Maybe this is a “Monday’s watch”, but the small details that aren’t as good as they should have been, could easily be improved or fixed before letting the watch onto the market.
The first thing I noticed was the bezel that didn’t line up very well. The missing millimeter is almost impossible to hide as it stares right at you. Then it’s the text on the rotor, telling me that the Croft has got a Japan Movement with twenty-one ewels. Where’s the J in jewels? The last issue is the cyclops. I’m no expert in the many differences in quality of glass, but I would be happy if Spinnaker chose something of a higher grade, or not a cyclops at all. The way the date shows through the magnifier reminds me of the mirror halls in old amusement parks, where the mirror bends and twists, making us look all wobbly and odd.
If I could change some of the design, just to make the Croft a watch I would truly appreciate, I would skip the small seconds and add an ordinary second-hand, to keep things a little bit tidier. As I’m not too fond of engravings on the outside of the case, I would remove the Spinnaker logo on the left flank, again to make the appearance a little sleeker. Being said, knowing myself very well, I know that per me, there will be at least 100 guys and girls that will love the design as it is, funky, different and very Spinnaker.
So, to wrap it all up, being a watch that pays tribute to a person that has achieved something special, these issues feels a bit sloppy. A watch using the name and story of a significant individual, should be without these cosmetic slip ups, paying the proper respect to its origins. Maybe I’m being too strict, but for me, a watch is not just a watch, especially when it’s made and assembled with a specific part of diving history in mind.
If this part doesn’t bother you, the Croft is a brilliant choice if you look for a new diver at a good price. The fact that you’ll get a watch that’ll last for many years, with an automatic movement, sapphire crystal, screw-down crown and quite a unique design, all for $320, makes the Croft very hard not to consider.