Spinnaker Tesei Titanium Review
Spinnaker is a relatively new brand that has burst onto the micro-brand scene offering lots of different designs, released at a steady, rapid pace throughout the year. Earlier in 2018, we covered the Spinnaker Bradner, and came away impressed. Now, I’ve had the chance to spend some time with one of the brand’s latest releases, the Tesei Titanium. Spinnaker has built their reputation on providing watches with impressive spec-sheets, with surprisingly low price points. The Tesei Titanium is no exception to this formula.
At just $520, a titanium dive watch with a sapphire crystal and automatic movement is almost unheard of, but how is it actually? Let’s take a closer look at it.
As expected from the name, the Tesei Titanium features a titanium case. Being an EDC geek, titanium holds a special place in my heart, especially with watches. It allows for a strong case, that is much lighter weight than a steel-cased counterpart. The primary downside is that compared to steel, titanium shows wear easier and more prevalently.
At a size of 43.65mm in diameter (47.25mm inclusive of crown), 15.5mm thick, and a lug-to-lug of 50.75mm, the Tesei is on the larger side of what I tend to prefer, but not unwearable by any means. The titanium case is lightweight and comfortable on wrist, and is finished with a bead-blast finish that is common to see on titanium cased watches. Flipping around to the case-back, you can spot the automatic movement ticking inside (more on that later), another feature not commonly found at this price bracket. All around, the case is well-finished, and lightweight. Those with smaller wrists might find the case to be slightly too large, but it wears well in my opinion.
The dial design of the Tesei is standard fare for a dive watch. Baton markers, stick hands, ultimately things that most of us have seen many times over. The dial itself has an interesting texture to it, that reminds me of rhino-liner you might see on a pickup truck bed, that adds to the tool watch aesthetic.
Aside from the texture, the dial features baton shaped markers at each hour, with a date window at the 3 position. As stated before, the dial is ultimately very traditionally styled for a dive watch, and I imagine the Tesei will feel familiar to most dive watch fans. While not an homage watch by any means, the Tesei doesn’t stray far from the path of standard Dive watch design.
The dial here does feature, what seems like to me, a lot of dial text. With a large Spinnaker logo at 12, and “Automatic, 660ft/200m, and TITANIUM” listed on the lower half of the dial, it’s hard to not notice this text. It’s in a large sized font, and in the case of the depth rating, is printed in orange. While I understand they want to draw attention to the titanium case, I would have (and always do with all watches) preferred a smaller amount of text, or at the very least, the same text, just printed smaller.
Since this is a dive watch, we obviously have to look at the bezel. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of the Tesei’s bezel. While aesthetically, it fits the watch quite well with it’s matte insert and standard dive numerals, the action is where this bezel disappoints. While turning, the bezel has an almost plastic-y sound to it, with a lot of play in between each click. Thinking this might just be my nitpicking as a watch geek, I had a few non-watch friends spin the bezel on the Tesei, and they all immediately commented on it’s plastic-y sound and feel.
With it’s low price point and titanium case, I was expecting that the Tesei would have to give up quality in some areas, and I believe the bezel is one of them. While perfectly functional overall, I was hoping for more given my experience with the Spinnaker Bradner.
The Tesei comes on a canvas-style two piece strap, that is color-matched blue to the watch, with orange accent stitching. Aesthetically, this is a good pair with the watch, and one that I’m sure many people will opt to keep on the watch.
Out of the box, the strap is somewhat stiff, but after a few days wear, breaks in nicely and feels comfortable on the wrist. The strap is lined with leather, that Spinnaker states is water resistant. I have yet to take this watch for a swim, but I would likely opt for a Nato strap in that situation regardless.
The Tesei is powered by the Miyota 8215 automatic movement, with a customized rotor that is visible through the display caseback. This movement has 21 jewels, beating at a rate of 21,600bph, with a 40 hour power reserve. While this movement does hand wind, an important note here is that the movement does not hack. The specifications from Miyota for this movement state that the expected accuracy is -20/+40 seconds per day, and it’s not clear if Spinnaker has done any further regulation on their end to these movements. I’m not an extreme stickler for accuracy, so I haven’t specifically timed this movement, but it is important to note that you should not expect to see the same performance out of this movement like you would out of one of Miyota’s higher end movements like the 9015.
With its low price tag and impressive spec sheet, at a glance, the Spinnaker Tesei Titanium seems like a no brainer purchase. $520 and you get a titanium cased diver with a name-brand movement and everything you might desire in a standard dive watch. Granted, the Tesei Titanium does stand alone in its price point, I’m not familiar with any other titanium cased divers at the same price.
However, the reality is that in order to stay in the price range they are known for, something had to give. The bezel action on this watch is disappointing to say the least, to the point that I would have actually preferred a friction fit bezel with no click action, opposed to its current state. The movement, while from Miyota, is the 8215, and it’s rather disappointing to see any $500+ watch not even offer hacking.
I was very impressed with the Bradner when I reviewed it back in 2018, so I really did have high hopes for the Tesei Titanium. Let me be clear, by no means is the Tesei Titanium a bad watch, but I would recommend looking at other pieces in Spinnaker’s lineup first.
If you are dying for a titanium cased watch and are on a budget, the Tesei is certainly an option you could consider. However, I would recommend saving up a bit more to get a Seiko Shogun SBDC029, an overall higher quality titanium diver with a better movement & finishing quality.
At the end of the day, I still remain impressed by what Spinnaker is doing. They’re creating a large catalog of watches at reasonable prices, allowing for a low barrier of entry to an interesting & quality watch. For me, though, the Tesei Titanium was overall a miss. I’d rather have seen them increase the price a few hundred extra to finish out this watch with the quality it deserves, with a higher quality movement to boot.
If you are interested in checking out more, you can visit Spinnaker’s website here.