Taking a Deep Dive With the Spinnaker Overboard
Spinnaker Went a Little Overboard With This Big & Bold Diver
Words/Photography: Me / Model: Bryce McD
Spinnaker is another member of the Dartmouth brand family (along with Avi-8, James McCabe, and DuFa). The Overboard dive watch conforms to the formula Dartmouth has gotten good at: a good price, solid underpinnings, and sufficient build quality.
I’ve been checking out a lot of dive watches lately as research for an upcoming dive watch article, so when Spinnaker reached out to us and asked if we wanted to review one, the timing couldn’t have been better. I received the Overboard early August and have given it plenty of wrist time since.
Compared to some of the other divers I’ve been wearing lately (the Scurfa Diver One and Hamilton Navy Sub Auto, for example), the Overboard is bigger and heavier at 46mm. The Overboard boasts a substantial 1000m of water resistance, a sapphire-coated mineral crystal, and a helium escape valve.
As of the time of this writing, the Overboard can be yours for a hair under $250.
Disclosure: Spinnaker provided this Overboard at no-cost for the purposes of this review.
Where to Buy
Spinnaker Overboard TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Automatic, Seiko NH35
Approximately 41 hours
1000m / 3300ft
A Big Diver Meant to Go Deep
The Overboard is almost over-the-top in its size and style, with an open heart display at 9 o’clock that acts as the visual focal point for the dial.
Not only is the Overboard wide, but it’s also tall at 20mm. Whereas some dive watches can get away being worn with casual or even dressy clothes (the Hamilton Khaki Navy Sub Auto and Casio MDV106-1AV Duro are both good examples), the Overboard’s height prevents that from being a realistic option… unless you’ve got big wrists, that is.
If you do happen to have weighty wrists, or if the size doesn’t deter you, the good news here is that there’s a lot about the Overboard to like. It’s a big lummox of a watch that’s built like a tank. It definitely feels capable of reaching true dive depths, and 1000m of water resistance reinforce that the overboard is ready to cash the cheque its aesthetic writes. 1000m of water resistance for a watch priced under $500 is quite impressive.
The white on black version I have here looks alright, but it’s the navy blue version (the SP-5023-0E) that’s the best looking of the bunch.
A large part of the Overboard’s build, particularly on the case, feels unnecessary. It’s almost as if they went big for the sake of going big, and that methodology was applied to every component of it.
On the side of the watch opposite the crown, Spinnaker is engraved on a polished-steel plate that is mounted and screwed inset the case. Despite being mounted flush with the rest of the case, the polished plate and screws add to the Overboard’s visual heft. This effect is compounded by the large screws used on the lugs to secure the strap.
Lugs are 28mm apart, and the silicone strap is also quite thick… which further adds to the depth of the watch. Depth is a key component of the Overboard, in both its intended function and its aesthetic hallmark.
The dial feels as if it sits at the bottom of a chasm, as the sides of the dial seem to tower over the rest of it. The open heart, which is recessed even further, adds to the perceived depth of the dial and makes the Overboard feel every bit as tall as it is.
The Overboard looks heavy, and that makes sense- because it is. I’m almost inclined to recommend that you get a wrist-weight for the opposite hand, lest your watch arm gets stronger than the other one 😉
Where to Buy
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Go Swimming With the Seiko NH35
The NH35 is a popular automatic movement used by smaller brands, in part because it’s proven itself to be robust and reliable, and also because it’s quite a good value given its specs. Using a high-spec Miyota or Swiss-made automatic may appease the watch nerds out there, but it would drive the price of the Overboard up. The NH35 is a solid choice for an affordable automatic movement that doesn’t force many concessions on its wearer.
The NH35 beats at 21,600 bph, has a 41-hour power reserve, and is built with 24 jewels. Estimated accuracy is -20 / +40 seconds. These specs aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re above-average as far as entry-level automatics go, and again, the NH35 – made by Seiko – is a reliable movement.
Build, Strap, & Other Details
The strap is a big, thick silicone unit with the usual stainless steel buckle (engraved of course). The strap is comfortable, if not forgettable, which is how it should be on a diver. The only diver with a strap I found notable was the Citizen EcoZilla, and only because it’s the only diver I’ve worn to date that used that specific type of buckle.
Unfortunately for me, the Overboard arrived with a small amount of shipping damage. As I opened the box, the unwrapped watch fell on to the counter and staring me in the face was a blemish directly above the helium escape value engraving. I’m unsure if the blemish was there pre-shipping, or if I caused it upon arrival, but there it is nonetheless.
There’s another area that has a small blemish, though it wasn’t until I was looking at a 6000x4000 px image of the watch that I saw it.
In two of the letters, you can see a small reddish deposit. I’m assuming that this was a material overlaid on the polished plate to protect it during engraving that didn’t get completely removed in the cleanup process. Happily, after a bit of time in the ultrasonic cleaner and using a handheld polishing tool, I was able to remove 99% of it (the photo above is pre-treatment). Whatever it was, it’s gone now.
Lume is important to divers, as the depths can be dark – especially when swimming through cave systems and the like – and time needs to be visible.
Lume on the Overboard is mediocre and also uneven. The hands, including the seconds hand, are the brightest and are tangibly brighter than the hour markers. Everything is visible, but I wouldn’t say the markers are easily visible.
Despite Lacklustre Lume, the Overboard is Still Good Value
Where the Overboard comes up short is in a couple of small detail-focused areas. The lume is a good example of where a price-focused compromise was made, but it’s the only apparent shortcut taken.
Where shortcuts weren’t taking is in the water resistance. As I’ve touched on a few times, 1000m is quite good and is bloody brilliant when you consider the $250 price-point. There are many affordable dive watches priced under $250, but almost none of them will ship with more than 200m of water resistance.
The 1000m rating demonstrates the Overboard as a legit dive watch, albeit a value-focused one.
A Good Entry Level Dive Watch That Doesn’t Look Entry Level
Where to Buy
A richly-detailed dial complete with an open heart display sets the Overboard apart from many of its peers. This is especially true when you factor in the movement, which is a decent automatic that becomes a great one when you consider the price. Most dive watches priced this low use quartz movements.
I like that there’s no visible complication on the dial. If you’re actually wearing the watch while diving, you won’t be able to see a date display (for example) very well when you’re down deep. Keeping the dial simple lets it feel big and badass without also feeling busy.
The biggest fault I can find on the Overboard is the underwhelming lume. Everything else seems above board to me.
For someone looking for a diver and wanting an automatic, the Overboard offers a strong value proposition that’s hard to match. An automatic, excellent water resistance, and a two-year warranty for $250? Yes, please.