A Look At The New Release From Spinnaker, The Hull Dive Watch
I have been a big fan of Spinnaker watches over the last few years and, despite a few underwhelming pieces here and there, I always look forward to their new releases.
Today I am reviewing the new release from Spinnaker, the Hull Diver, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! I wasn’t even aware the Hull Diver was in the works until a review model showed up at my door. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I opened the package. In fact, I was blown away.
The Hull Diver is also one of several Spinnaker watches I now have in my collection, so at this point I know the brand well.
Spinnaker has been around for a number of years and has a large catalog of watches, mostly dive style pieces with Seiko guts inside. Many folks refer to them as a microbrand, but I think at this point they are way past that status.
My favorite Spinnaker of all time is the Fleuss and I think it really set the bar high for what $300 can get you. The Fleuss was also the first “nice” automatic watch in my collection. Spinnaker has a formula for building watches that I think works extremely well and their popularity on the wrist proves it.
The Hull Diver has a listed retail price of $375 and you get a solid watch for your money. We talk about it all the time, it’s a battle royale between all these brands at the sub-$400 mark.
Many watches in this space are spec’d in similar veins, so the deciding factor here always comes down to design execution and, more importantly, value and finishing details. I think this is where Spinnaker has been pushing out some of its competitors, their quality seems to be a little more consistent from model to model.
I mentioned the Spinnaker Fluess to lay the groundwork for my impressions of the Hull Diver. I was thrilled when I opened the box to the Fluess! To me, it is such a good looking dive watch, a little retro, some unique details, and a solid value…all the things I care about in a watch. Several years later, and with a much larger watch collection, the Fluess still remains in my top ten favorite watches…but I think the Hull Diver may just nudge it out!
Sometimes, when you open a watch box, you are a little underwhelmed by what’s inside. I have experienced this several times over the last few months, but definitely not when I opened the Hull Diver.
I was delighted with the surprise of a rainy Wednesday night Fedex delivery, and I was immediately in love with the Hull Diver. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason we like a certain watch, but in the case of the Hull Diver it comes down to looks and size.
As I write this, many of my thoughts that put the Hull Diver in a positive experience are done so through the lens of value. Looks are personal, but build-quality and specifications can be compared across all brands.
So, for the retail price, this is one heck of a watch.
The Hull Diver is sharp looking. Taking a slightly squarish case shape from the regular Hull Automatic and merging a few design cues from the Fluess, we have a beautiful looking diver with some vintage overtures.
My model, which is called Cognac Brown, is just a beauty. The rich color choice is very eye-catching and it has copper plating highlights on the bezel and crown. These highlights are carried through to gilding the edges of the hands and applied indices.
The bezel itself is very firm and has a nice secure feel when rotating; it clicks right into each graduation on each turn.
The Hull Diver has all the expected features from a real diver and all the details that Spinnaker is known for: 300 meters of water resistance, screw down crown and caseback, smooth rotating bezel and lume for days. Really, it’s watches like these that make me question so many other watches that have a much higher retail cost.
The dial is where the good looks start: the brown sunburst is a beautiful shade and the indices and hands play off the deep, rich color. Unlike many of the Spinnaker models that have a cool textured dial, they decided on the Hull Diver to go with a smooth dial with sunburst.
It’s nice to see companies change it up and offer different details.
The ceramic bezel insert is also a deep brown and the markings are all lumed. As I mentioned above, the lume is awesome. I am not sure at the time of this review about the exact makeup of lume, but Spinnaker usually applies a healthy dose of Super Luminova and it looks like that’s the case here.
The real stand out here is the more manageable size of a 42 mm case with a shorter lug to lug of 50mm. These are the measurements I received and it’s one of the reasons I think the watch looks so good on the wrist. It’s also one reason I love it so much; the Hull Diver has great proportions. I can wear bigger watches (because I like watches, all shapes) but if I had my choice, I do want something that looks reasonably sized on my wrist. I’ve been known to wear a Seiko Tuna around the house, but I take it off when I’m going out in public.
Inside is a Seiko NH35 with a date complication at 3 o’clock. I know these are just your basic “work horse” movements, but I have to say that I actually love them for what they are. Plus, I recently tested two watches with Seiko NH36 (the caliber with a day and date complication) and got almost 45 hours of power reserve out of each of them. For the most part, all the Seiko NH35 & NH36’s I have all run very well. You certainly don’t ever hear about reliability issues. So in the choice of what should power the Hull Diver, I think Spinnaker made a decent choice. It’s also the obvious movement to choose when trying to build a high-value watch at a reasonable price.
The dial is capped off with an ever-so-slightly domed sapphire crystal that meets the bezel almost flush. One design feature I really love on the Hull Diver is the lack of a chapter ring. The dial just meets the inside of the case flush and this adds some dramatic depth to the face of the watch when you look at it.
The crown is signed and it’s edged with slight knurling which offers plenty of purchase to unscrew it when setting the date and time. Like almost all Seiko movements, the crown has a nice pop when unscrewed and is very tactile in feel during adjusting (the lack of which sometimes bothers me on some Miyota movements as well as a few others).
The Hull Diver has a signed, screw-down caseback. The name, along with some watch details, is engraved into the backside. The caseback is almost flush with the case and doesn’t add any undo overall height to the watch.
I measured the case height at 14mm which, on my wrist, makes the watch sit very well. The short lug-to-lug also aids in how well it wears. If you like an SKX on the wrist, you will like the Hull Diver, too.
Spinnaker’s normal, heavy-duty, yet soft, leather strap keeps the whole thing on your wrist. I really like the leather straps that Spinnaker does; perhaps they are a little thick to some, but they’re very pliable and they break in quickly.
They all say water resistant on the back. I have never dunked mine in a pool, but I have definitely gotten them damp when doing dishes or spending time outside during the summer with no ill effects.
Normally, I can always find a few things that drive me nuts about a watch, however, in the case of the Hull Diver I have no complaints. Spinnaker does a great job on QC and not just on models sent out for review. I have purchased one and have friends that have also, all with no issues. When I got the watch, I texted a fellow watch friend to talk about it and I will tell you the same thing I said to him, it’s just a great watch with no problems! I hope to see a model on a bracelet in the future too!
Watch Specs: The Spinnaker Hull Diver SP-5088-04
Here are the basic dimensions and specifications of the watch.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.