A Week on the Wrist with the Spinnaker Hull Chronograph – best cheap watch?

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph is a Meca-Quartz chrono with a whole lot of personality

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph against a yellow plant pot
(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

In my line of work, you get to try and awful lot of watches. It's great, honestly. I've tried just about everything from the ultra affordable to the eye-wateringly expensive, giving me a real sense of just what it takes to make a watch tick.

Rarely – if ever – does that come down to price alone. Sure, it's easy to think that the higher price tag equates to better quality, but that is not always the case. In fact, sometimes the best watches are the one's which punch way above their price point, offering a wearing experience which totally defies expectations.

And without putting too fine a point on it, that's exactly how I feel about this Spinnaker Hull Chronograph. It's a watch which really impresses, at a price point which genuinely defies belief. Without further ado, let's dive in and have a closer look.

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Kicking off with the spec sheet, the Spinnaker Hull Chronograph has a lot to like. A 42mm squircle case is manufactured from 316L stainless steel. That attaches to a leather band via 22mm wide lugs.

A sloping steel bezel offers a tachymeter scale, but it's what's inside the bezel that really counts. Subdials at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions sit proudly on a bed of Super LumiNova, while the seconds sub-register at 6 o'clock matches the dial colour.

That adds a nice degree of functionality, without the dial feeling too crowded. That layer of Super LumiNova runs beneath the entire dial in a layered fashion. That allows for cut out indices to shine brightly, too.

At the top of the dial, a large date window is displayed. That's a dual window design – think A Lange and Sohne style – and looks absolutely fabulous. Watching the date change from '09' to '10' or '19' to '20' is the best bit here, as the workings of the date function can be seen in full force.

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

We've glossed over the Meca-Quartz movement here, so let's just jump back to that quickly. If you've never used one before, it's a really cool design where the main watch is a quartz movement, but the chronograph uses a mechanical movement.

That means that the large central seconds hand will sweep beautifully, while the run-of-the-mill seconds hand – found at 6 o'clock – ticks. It's not an uncommon movement in the more affordable price point, but it is really well used here.

The Hull Chronograph also doesn't leave it as standard, either. For starters, that date window isn't any old date window. Plus, the crown and the chronograph pushers are screw down, to help the watch achieve a neat 100m of water resistance.

What's more, it's available in three beautiful new finishes right now. The Burnt Maroon finish of my review unit is simply gorgeous, with a passionate deep red dial which offsets the cream of the subdials superbly. You'll also find Sky Blue and Shire Green variants, if they are more to taste.

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

What is the Spinnaker Hull Chronograph like to wear?

As I mentioned at the top, I wear a lot of watches. It's a cool way to earn a living when you're into all things horological, but it also makes you a little numb, sometimes.

When you're exposed to all sorts of timepieces, day after day, it takes something really special to make you sit up and take notice. I didn't expect this Spinnaker to be that watch, but it really is.

Right off the bat, the wearing experience is absolutely fantastic. 42mm with a slightly squared off case shape would normally be a total no-go for me. But on the wrist, it sits beautifully – much closer to the 40mm standard of recent years.

Then, there's the design itself. It's very hard to find an original design in the affordable tier of watchmaking. Sure, you might find that the details have been changed to make it a bit more unique, but the silhouette will remain the same.

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

That's really not the case here. The squircle case shape, dual subdials and split date window look absolutely sublime, without feeling derivative. It instantly harks back to the golden era of racing, where chronographs sat on every wrist – but does so with a personality entirely its own.

It's also incredibly functional. Because – like a vast majority of watch enthusiasts – I love the look of a chronograph, but I'll never genuinely need to use one. Spinnaker have spotted that trend, and fitted the Hull Chronograph with screw-down pushers.

Now, you have the choice. Either unscrew the pushers to use the chronograph function, or screw them down and benefit from 100m of water resistance. It's a brilliant thing to find on a watch, and makes the whole thing way more functional.

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Is the Spinnaker Hull Chronograph worth the money?

Even writing that heading, I find myself laughing a little. Because yes. Of course it is. This is a watch so well made you'd be forgiven for thinking it cost two or three times the price. 

In fact, when I started reviewing this watch, I deliberately didn't look at the price tag. It wasn't a model I'd spotted before, so I was completely blind. The intention was simple – what would I pay for this?

Honestly, I could have justified paying anything up to around £600 for this. The fit and finish is simply sublime – flawless, in fact – and the movement is just perfect.

It's even better than some other Meca-Quartz chronographs I own – those fail to snap back perfectly to zero when the seconds hand has run a beat or two over the marker. That's annoying, but especially so when this costs less than half as much.

The Spinnaker Hull Chronograph will set you back $235 or £235. When it comes to watches, that is absolutely nothing. You could spend a thousand times that in this industry.

If that's really not for you, the Spinnaker Hull Chronograph should definitely be on your radar. It also should be if you're on the hunt for a chronograph without busting the bank. Or, indeed, if you have a couple of hundred pounds to spare and want a watch which can easily hang out with those costing five times more.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.