The Effortlessly Cool Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green Dives Deep In Stealth Mode
Disclaimer: Today we go hands-on with the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green, the aquatic life inspired diver. We received this courtesy Spinnaker Watches in exchange for this review only. We spent a couple of days wearing this military aesthetic timepiece, and here’s our honest hands-on review that details our first impressions, early on-the-wrist experience and the some concerns we encountered.
Ticks All The Right Boxes
Scour the internet and you will find that the Generation 2.0 of the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium collection has seen its share of both appreciation and criticism.
Most agree that this new version did improve vastly upon the 2018 release, with the changing of the movement, the extension of the seconds hand so that it reaches the minute track, the inclusion of an updated logo and a lightweight titanium bracelet. But it has also been noted that there have been a fair few Quality Control (QC) issues with these watches.
Despite being aware of the QC issues which we will talk about in a bit, I specifically wanted our foray into reviewing Spinnaker Watches to begin with this collection and asked for this model on purpose.
Why, would be a valid question at this stage, and the answer would be simple; I really liked how the Tesei Titanium Forest Green looked. It stood out.
And after having it for a couple of days, like I figured, it ticks all the right boxes for an entry-level dive watch.
At this juncture what’s more important for you to note is that I reviewed this straight after going hands-on with two exquisitely finished Grand Seiko timepieces, the SBGR321 and the SBGE251. So you can imagine the difference for me when it came to both finish quality and quality control because only a handful of brands in the world can match Grand Seiko’s craftsmanship.
Still, I can appreciate what Spinnaker has to offer. It is not cutting-edge revolutionary or without areas it can improve upon, but at the end of the day, as a tool watch, the Generation 2.0 of the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium collection encased inside an ice-cold looking sandblasted titanium case is essentially an exercise in ticking all the right boxes.
It’s a no nonsense, non-pretentious timepiece. It’s rugged, under-the-radar, and effortlessly cool.
Weathering The Storm
First impressions go a long way in establishing a sense of worthiness of a product, and ours didn’t disappoint. On the whole, within a clean-cut cardboard packaging — it didn’t arrive in the large pelican case majority has been complaining about — nestled this timepiece, wrapped up nicely like a mummy, ready to be unveiled. So far, so good.
Once you unwrap the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green the first thing you notice is that stark dull gray, gun-metal, sandblasted titanium colouring.
The next thing you notice is the shimmering green dial. I reckon here the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green really shines through. It’s got a military vibe to it, and it’s stealth with a burst of life.
Pick up this beauty and the next thing you are impressed by is the lightness. It comes in at 130g, and while that’s not out-of-the-box revolutionary light, you gotta remember that all metal watches — bracelet & case — are generally heavier.
Take for instance the 42mm diameter Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600. It weighs 194g. Or the even smaller 40mm C60 Sapphire. That weighs 178g. The CW C60 Elite GMT 1000 in titanium weighs a similar 133g.
So yes, the Tesei Titanium in the grand scheme of things is pretty lightweight.
Concern: Unfortunately, at the same time when you are admiring the watch, you begin to notice the finger marks. And there are lots of them over time.
Takeaway: The first impression is a mixed bag, with mostly positive comments – the dial looks great, the case feels nice and light, but the titanium parts get smudge marks like there is no tomorrow.
Meet Spinnaker Watches
Spinnaker produces both quartz and automatic movement watches. It has 13 collections currently in their catalogue. The Tesei collection has further 8 variations, with the one we are reviewing today, the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green, being the entry level for this collection starting at $625 USD. The top range maxes out with the Metro GMT coming in at $2’000 USD.
Overall, they have 81 options if I have counted correctly, with the cheapest being $119 USD. That’s right, around a 100 bucks for an automatic watch.
Have I piqued your interest yet?
Finally, for all those Swiss watch fans, fret not. The new Tesei Mille Metri collection which we hope to review in the near future, features the Sellita SW200-1 Swiss made movement, the same movement that stalwarts like Oris and relatively new high-flyers Christopher Ward use in their watches.
Personally I am a big fan of Christopher Ward watches and feel currently they are unbeatable in their offerings, so the new Tesei Mille Metri should offer interesting notes to compare. But I digress.
Also, think Sellita is not your cup of tea? How about Swatch Group’s ETA? The new Spinnaker Tesei Mille Metri GMT uses the ETA 2893-2 movement.
Takeaway: I guess the point I am trying to make here is that this company from Dartmouth Brands is trying hard to become a major player in the under 1K USD price market and I for one appreciate that. In the tool watch category, it has something for everyone.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
On paper the Tesei Titanium is a straightforward and standard dive watch that resembles Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms with a titanium case and unidirectional bezel that’s 200m water-resistant. That’s straight out of the ‘Dummies’ Guide To Dive Watches’ if ever such a book existed.
But after a certain while when you have gone through uncountable watches — especially when you happen to be a watch critic — they all begin to merge into one another a little bit.
Sure this Spinnaker in no shape or form compares to a Blancpain or Grand Seiko, but it is downright different.
And it is in this difference, that as an added bonus comes at a fraction of a price of these two, that the Tesei Titanium blossoms.
Like any object, the tactile feel defines it to a large extent.
When you hold the Tesei Titanium, see it in person, feel the almost sandpapery surface of the rather unusually hardened with nitrogen titanium case, it sticks out. Some may call it like a sore thumb, but I would say in a sea of dive watches that come and go with time & tide, the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green is one watch that I won’t forget easily.
Leonardo da Vinci once said – “In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”
Spinnaker watches are borne out of the spirit of aquatic influence, and the Tesei Titanium, like the above quote, is a great meeting point of what we know about divers and what we can expect.
Takeaway: Reinforced by 200m water-resistance, a screw-down crown, a scratch-resistant ceramic insert unidirectional bezel, a lightweight yet toughened titanium armour, the Tesei Titanium acts a great tool watch, ready for the battle.
The Part Where It Charms aka The Value Add-ons
Our first impressions settled in, we decided to take this for a spin. After spending a couple of days with the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green, here is a list of features that definitely add to the value proposition here.
- We have already spoken about the beauty of the dial and the high legibility it offers.
Aesthetically, without the use of macro lens, I love how the watch looks. The baton hands and applied indices aide in legibility.
The date window is symmetrically placed at 3 and the printing of the text on the dial is sharp, clear and non-obtrusive. The double width or rather two indices at the 12’o clock clearly demarcate the said time, and the texture of the dial brings in a sense of three-dimensional quality.
- Next up is the ceramic bezel. Like a true diver, the timepiece features a unidirectional bezel with lume markings.
To maintain coherency in regards to making this as much of a trusty daily beater as possible, like the nitrogen hardened titanium case, the bezel is also made scratch resistant by including a ceramic insert.
It is commendable for this price point that they have gone with this bezel insert. Lots of entry-level brands — and also the new Tudor BB58 ‘Navy Blue’ — make use of aluminium inserts that are not as scratch resistant. So extra points here to Spinnaker.
The knurling around the bezel that integrates well with the knurling on the crown is highly appreciated as well.
- Next to the bezel is the crystal protecting the case that gets a special mention too.
Spinnaker has opted for sapphire crystal instead of what a lot of entry-level watches — including from the likes of Seiko — feature: hardened crystals.
I reckon this is a big plus at this price point given sapphire crystals are not only more expensive, but they are also much, much more scratch resistant than say Hardlex or domed mineral glass or hardened domed K1 Crystal or LEXAN ‘Polycarbonate’ lens.
- Another value add-on is the upgraded Swiss X1 lume.
This new Super-LumiNova® Grade X1 is designed to show a performance increase of up to 60% after two hours compared to the standard grade and the manufacturer’s website informs us that ‘the legibility according to the ISO 3157 standard will be extended by at least a factor of 1.6 in the long term’.
- For a smaller brand, it is also noteworthy to remember that Spinnaker provides with a two-year warranty.
Sure it’s not as impressive as Christopher Ward’s 60/60 policy, but is still better than a lot of other players. For instance, Orient, UNDONE and Dan Henry, all offer only a one-year warranty.
- We are glad to note that the very entry-level, non-hacking, 8-series Miyota movement has been replaced by the workhorse Seiko NH35A movement.
This Japanese TMI NH35A automatic winding movement (supplied by SEIKO Manufacturing (H.K.) Limited) is a bi-directional winding movement featuring 24 jewels and beating at the frequency of 21,600 vph (3Hz).
It is a common, reliable, workhorse Japanese movement that I see no issues with. Lots of brands such as Invicta and Seiko use it liberally and frequently.
The 27.4mm diameter and 5.32mm thick movement usually offers an accuracy of -20 ~ +40 seconds per day (though I haven’t checked it on this watch) and 41-hours power reserve.
Overall, even though it is not a high end Japanese movement or a Swiss movement, it nonetheless works well as a beater watch heart and due to its common use, it is comforting to note that its replacement spare parts should be very easily accessible should the need arise.
- The Sizing
The movement is encased inside a 43mm diameter and 13mm thick Grade 2 titanium with a rather unique sandpaper feel to it. Overall the case measures in at 51mm lug-to-lug — 50.8mm to be precise — and for those who like to swap out straps, it offers a 22mm lug interhorn spacing. The 13mm thickness means that the watch is versatile enough to be sitting under the cuff and could work both at the beach and the boardroom.
One of the concerns I had while requesting for this watch was the 43mm diameter. My usual sweet spot is 39mm, so 43mm on paper sounds rather huge. Unfortunately, for my wrists, it is.
But I understand that for anyone with larger wrists, this works as I was pleased to note that the case sat comfortably on my 16 and a bit cm wrist and owing to short and fairly curved lugs, it didn’t appear overbearing.
The case also features bevels between top and side surface on the lugs thereby further adding character to the design. Again, not as impressive as Christopher Ward’s ‘light-catcher’ cases, but fair dinkum considering the list price.
The Critique – Quality Control (QC)
You focus on the above features and almost forget about the flaws. Before we wrap this up, here’s looking at the ones with the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green.
- The bracelet’s 3-position micro adjustment system only works for the first 2 settings, leaving the smallest setting obsolete. The way it is designed it doesn’t close properly.
- The 120-clicks bezel action is not really music to my ears, and feels a bit rough and flat. But my biggest issue here is the misalignment of markings with the dial. This is a strictly no-go zone, and is one of the aspects that reflect the QC issues we are talking about.
- If you zoom right into the dial, you begin to notice some blemishes. At the 1’o clock index there seems to be a bit of fluff or hair stuck on the lume. This was only visible when looking at the watch in fine detail.
- The bracelet feels a bit delicate and finicky.
- And the nitrogen hardened titanium besides being a smudge-monger feels a bit rough on the skin after constant wear.
No Retreat, No Surrender – In a Nutshell
The Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green ref. SP-5084-33 retails for $625 USD and impressively boasts of a completely Grade 2 Titanium body and bracelet (barring the steel clasp on the latter). Great emphasis has been laid on durability, scratch-resistance and on making this a daily driver. Resultantly, titanium has been hardened with nitrogen for increased scratch resistance. And as a by product of this process one gets to marvel at the lightweight feel and the iced-out brazen aesthetic.
Move beyond appreciating the use of titanium at this price point and your gaze gets transfixed at the mesmerisingly textured dark green dial, that likes to shimmer in the light at any opportunity afforded to it.
No diver is worthy without good specs, and the 200m water-resistance along with the use of a unidirectional bezel and a screw-down crown/caseback makes this a great tool watch.
Legibility is always key, and thankfully in the case of the Tesei Titanium, not only do the applied indices and baton hands scream legibility, the ample use of lume simply seals the deal.
Stealth Mode Activated – The Wrap
The Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green may not be as well finished as a Swiss watch, but its distinctive personality wins me over. Yes, it’s got its faults, but for me, its charms outdo the faults easily.
At the end of the day, whether you will like this or not boils down to subjective tastes what with the large diameter and extensive of titanium. And how you feel about the QC concerns.
But I can say one thing with certainty – if you are looking for a diver that looks good, feels different, and doesn’t break the bank, the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Forest Green is definitely worth a shot.
For what its worth, if Spinnaker can tweak these QC concerns, I reckon they are a formidable force.
Bottom line: stealth has a new address – your wrist.
We would again like to thank Spinnaker Watches for gifting us this watch to review. To find out more about this and other Spinnaker watches, please head to their website here. All images are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It, unless otherwise stated.