Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Spinnaker Cahill

Spinnaker watches have built their brand around a nautical theme. While the much of their collection draws upon the aesthetics of competitive sailing, the Cahill takes a different tack, finding inspiration in vintage diver's watches. This 200m diver has more than a hint of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Tornek Rayville, and Rolex 5513 in its general layout but it doesn't copy of any of these watches so much as it incorporates familiar design cues to into a retro original. The lineup contains the steel and black model 01, the black and gilt model 02, and the black and orange model 03. For this review, Spinnaker supplied a model SP-5033-02. 

Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02
While the 43mm Cahill is larger than most vintage pieces, it is right on target for a modern sports watch, and in no way bloated. Overall length is 49mm and it is 15.8mm thick from its case back to the top of its domed sapphire crystal [Update: Before the launch, Spinnaker said the bezel and crystal would be sapphire. Now that the watch has been released, their website says these pieces are Hardex mineral, not sapphire.]. I found it was right at home on my 6.5" wrist and should be an easy fit for most people. It has a brushed case with a round barrel and curved and tapered 22mm lugs. Polished surfaces on the crown, bezel, bottom lip of the case, and the beveled edges of the lugs offer a hint of gloss to dress up its otherwise staid shape. I found it particularly effective in black.

Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02 wrist

The 120-click unidirectional bezel moves freely. I would prefer a touch more resistance, but it does not exhibit and back play or slippage. The narrow sapphire [Hardex, see above.] insert with its Fifty Fathoms layout and lumed markers may just be my favorite feature. It is both purposeful and polished, dressing up the watch without detracting from its utility. 

Dial layout consists of the usual diver's dots-and-bars with applied, slightly oversized gold markers, gold Mercedes hands, and a lollipop second hand. While I like the overall look, the markers lack depth. A touch more height and a recess for the lume fill would go a long way to adding dimension. As it stands, I had to look closely to be sure they weren't flat against the dial. That said, it is a very attractive dial. It is matte black with a fine grainy texture not quite as pronounced as that of the Manchester Watch Works Tatoskok or NTH Amphion Vintage. The text, date window, and minute index are printed in gold, while the brand name is applied. It works well, and I applaud Spinnaker on its choice of a short, widely spaced typeface for the movement and water resistance. I cannot understand why so many budget watch brands insist on using a generic typeface that is indistinguishable from Microsoft Arial, but I am always grateful when they don't. 

Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02

The watch is signed on the dial, crown, buckle, rotor, case, display window, and strap. It sounds like overkill but actually works quite well. The Spinnaker brand is rendered in a streamlined typeface that I remember fondly from certain 1950's cars and appliances. It is applied to the dial and rotor, and engraved or stamped elsewhere. As such, it does not jump out at you and is even more understated in black. 

Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02 back

Out back, the name is unobtrusively stamped into the underside of the leather strap. An A Miyota 8215 automatic is visible through the exhibition case back. This is a stalwart, budget movement with 21 jewels and a 21.6k bph beat rate. It does not hack or hand wind. The unit itself isn't much to look at, but the custom blue rotor behind the sail logo on the display window cleverly creates the illusion of a boat on the water. 

Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02 NATO

Each Cahill comes with two straps. With the model 02, you get a tan NATO and thick, water resistant leather, both with hardware to match the case. I loved the oil tanned leather. It is nicely finished, but its minimal stitching, matte finish, and pronounced pull-up effect perfectly capture the right rugged, vintage look. Of course, any proper diver's watch needs a fully waterproof strap so the heavy nylon NATO and signed, removable buckle is a welcome addition. They even supply a strap changing tool. The watch and its accessories are neatly presented in a heavy wooden presentation box.

The Cahill is not yet on sale, but it will be soon for $475. I believe this is a reasonable price for a watch of this type. It may not have a sexy movement, but the vintage vibe, sapphire Hardex bezel, and strap options are spot on. I'm told it will launch in the next few weeks, so keep an eye on spinnaker-watches.com for more. 

Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02
Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02
Spinnaker Cahill SP-5033-02 lume

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