I recently caved to pressure from my wrist and conducted a strap change on both of my Spinnaker Hull California’s. My initial impressions of the stock straps after the first couple of weeks was that although they were firm, I was making due and figured that they would eventually break-in; to date however, this has not happened, perhaps a testament to their potential lasting durability but ultimately not constructive for my personal day-to-day use.
For the vintage model I chose a rust finished strap from the Castle Watch Co. Cavetto. It matches the vintage tones and feel of Hull and makes the piece an entirely comfortable presence on my wrist. Meanwhile on the Hull Tactical I replaced the utilitarian rubber strap with the most basic leather strap that the Venetian brothers at Meccaniche Veneziane have offered to date. I say this because even though it is much less substantial than their high-grade regular leather straps, it is still extremely supple and provides day long comfort when matched to the Hull Tactical. If you are considering time piece remember that, generally speaking, the strap is only going to make up about 10% of the total cost of the watch and when we’re talking less expensive products that’s not a lot. It may seem strange to buy say a $100 strap and put it on a $200 watch but if you love the $200 watch but don’t love the strap it comes with then do yourself a favor and invest in your long-term relationship with your watch, you won’t regret it.
Let’s talk about the stock rubber strap from the Hull Tactical. If you read my previous review, I questioned if Spinnaker had put the strap on backwards because it photographs better. I am 100% certain that the vents you see in the photos are meant to be just that, vents to aid in comfort, and not “speed lines” to make it “go faster”. But in photos it looks MUCH cooler so I get it…
Speaking of Spinnaker…
Spinnaker line-up offers excellent style for a price but others, such as most recently Infantry, are starting to do the same for less. If we take a look back at the value proposition offered by these two brands you’ll see that while I got the Hull models on sale for $252.00 (Vintage) and $277.00 CAD (Tactical) inclusive, the Infantry Aviateur came in on sale at just $175.00 CAD each, inclusive. For $102.00 CAD more Spinnaker gives you the Seiko NH-35A unadjusted power plant, which means you get stop second hacking for easy time setting, specially treated straps for water play, custom plastic dial and a smaller and more reasonably sized case; unfortunately, you also get downgraded to a sapphire coated K1 mineral crystal. So, while this is by no means a comparison review of these two different product-lines I do think it illustrates the premium you are being asked for by Spinnaker when put next to the competition. And if you want to go cheap, you can always head to AliExpress and for around $125.00 CAD shipped you can quickly find a automatic with a printed dial; and if you like the look of these great, I personally quite like my Seagull driven manual wind California but just note that a printed dial is a much different beast.
Spinnaker’s budget is squarely aimed on marketing which of course for their product and target audience is the smartest place to get the best results. The downside of course is that for higher end features, as found in the Cahill line-up for example, you’ll be asked to pay a hefty premium and for your more reasonably priced pieces, such as these Hull California’s, you’ll be missing out on things such as sapphire crystals and custom rotors. Key here of course is that they actual dollar amounts being asked are still “reasonable”, it’s just when put in comparison with other brands you realize that they are high for what you features you are getting. Now marketing can only take a product so far if it doesn’t look good and Spinnaker makes good looking wrist watches. They really are on a role, presently offering good looking “tribute” pieces through a range of prices and features and not just discount time pieces. Want a Fifty Fathoms alternative that’s not a homage? Try the Bradner. Want a Swiss movement or steel alternative case material? Then look at the Tensei. Want a practical tactical daily wearer that’s not a Garmin? Take a good look at the Cahill. How about a 300m diver? They’ve got the Dumas. Get the idea? Do I think that Spinnaker is a marketing team for a factory somewhere in Asia? Most assuredly. Does it matter? Nope!
Spinnaker has some really good-looking product lines and in the case of the Hull California the product and price are both in-line with my expectations. Ultimately, I am quite happy with both my newly revitalized Hull California’s as well as my recently acquired Aviateur’s, and my California Tactical will continue to see combat mowing the lawn and doing the dishes.
If you’re interested in a time piece by Spinnaker my AVG promo app has pushed me promo code WA20 for 20% off your order.
What’s in store for October?
- 3 October – Update: New Straps and Old Dials
- 6 October – ATC: Infantry Aviateur #1
- 10 October – Review: Infantry Aviateur Line-Up
- 13 October – ATC: Glasshutte GUB Spezimatic
- 17 October – Update: Addressing Accuracy Pt 1: ATC Results vs Advertised
- 20 October – ATC: Infantry Aviateur #2
- 24 October – Review: 1970’s Match-Up
- 27 October – ATC: Infantry Aviateur #3
- 31 October – Update: Addressing Accuracy Pt 2: The Entry Level Automatic