I purchased a Spinnaker midsize Cahill watch as part of a massdrop group buy. My initial impression is rather favorable.
There are only a few watch companies that make products that actually hold their value. The usual suspects like Rolex, Omega, Longines, Cartier, Patek Phillipe and the rest of the luxury watch brand names are on that list. Names like Bulova and Tag Heuer are not (look at the cost of a used Tag or Bulova on ebay sometimes). So what you have are “premium brand recognition” that gives some sort of “brand equity” which allows a used Rolex to be sold for much more than an equivalent quality Tag.
It also means that there are a LOT of brands which make product that don’t hold their value, or don’t appreciate in value at all. There is nothing wrong with this, as many of these brands such as Seiko, Casio, Citizen, Orient will make a watch that will fit in whether you are wearing a business suit or a diving suit, and while they don’t have the brand equity of Rolex or Patek Phillipe which is associated with Rolls Royce or top end Cadillacs, a nice Citizen watch wouldn’t be out of place at all on the wrist of someone who drives a Lincoln, or Lexus.
And then there are brands that purchase components in bulk and have their watches manufactured in Malaysia or China. Brands like Invicta (who discontinued their Swiss mechanical line) and Vostok, which allows them to produce a decent watch for a decent price. And now Spinnaker, which doesn’t divulge their sub contracted watch makers but at least once was “Solar Time LTD” of China according to one customer’s shipping label reports. Which brings us to the Spinnaker medium Cahill watch.
The good: It is an homage dive watch that isn’t an homage to the Rolex Submariner. It looks to be an homage to the Breguet 1646, which this blog accurately predicted back in 2014 would have several homage watches rather quickly enter the market: https://www.ablogtowatch.com/breguet-1646-diver-watch-newly-discovered-vintage-1965/ In short, this watch looks very handsome and until the market is saturated with other Breguet 1646 inspired homage watches, will look like something that costs more than it did. Also good is the domed mineral crystal, which I particularly enjoy because it doesn’t reflect sunlight in an annoying bright spot pattern to flash on anyone’s eyes as I’m driving or doing anything else in bright sunlight.
The interesting: The NH35A movement has been used in many ISO certified Diver’s watches, and so it represents a solid choice here for price to performance (as it is the movement of choice for Invicta and Vostok for that very reason) : https://wanderingthroughthenight.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/a-deeper-look-at-the-sii-nh35a-watch-movement/ The water resistance rating of 100 meters means that this watch is fine for anything you’ll normally do on vacation. The owners manual comes with a note to not wear the watch in a jacuzzi or steam room, as that may lead to condensation inside the watch.
The bad: The watch is clearly built to a price point, much like Invicta. The illum used is nothing to write home about, but it is better than Invicta and Vostok illum when compared at the same price point (about 90 dollars from a Massdrop purchase). The uni-directional rotating bezel has no illum at all, and suffers from an apparent misaligned gasket problem which causes it to bind a bit randomly as it is rotated, although it could be that this is a problem with only my model and not with others (I’ve had this problem with a Seiko Orange Monster, 2nd gen, as well which cleared up with a new gasket properly coated with silicon dive grease).
As to why do I call the Spinnaker medium Cahill a diver style watch? Because I’ve come to expect very bright illum from Seiko dive watches, and this is much more subdued. There is nothing wrong with the watch that would prevent me from taking it snorkeling or reef diving, but things can get very dim even 80 feet down depending on conditions. The lack of an illuminated reference point on the rotating bezel make this watch a “clear water, bright day only” type of diver, designed to be seen on the wrist by others rather than used on the wrist by a diver.
The “style” of watch is in line with the Citizen military theme watches or the Timex weekender line of watches in terms of being a “casual fashion accessory.” And substituting one of those watches for the Cahill would hardly change a gentleman’s look at all. And while there isn’t enough “brand equity” to ensure that having a Spinnaker on your wrist is an acceptable social status token to be taken seriously by the one percent, the Spinnaker brand is working very hard to establish their brand space in the “Tag Heuer and Bulova” range rather than Invicta and Vostok range. As such, I predict that lower cost offerings like the midsize Cahill will be the exception rather than the rule.