The Spinnaker Piccard is a Time Machine, Straight to the 60s and Down to the Bottom of the Ocean

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Some watches are meant to be practical, offering useful complications and functionality to get us through both the difficult and mundane moments of life. Timing a load of laundry, or getting that steak off the grill while it’s still on the correct side of medium, for instance. Other watches are meant to be completely discreet, fitting unobtrusively under a shirt cuff, a private enjoyment of the owner. And then, there are watches, like the new Spinnaker Piccard, that are essentially pure exercises in watch related time travel, meant to evoke a period or event that is often hyper specific. The good news here is that if you happen to be obsessed with the history of underwater exploration in the 1960s, and have always dreamed of strapping a Rolex Deepsea Special to your wrist (but lack the seven figure sum or the patience necessary to acquire one at auction), Spinnaker has you covered. 


Spinnaker Piccard

  • Case Material: Titanium
  • Dial: Black
  • Dimensions: 47 x 25mm
  • Crystal: Sapphire   
  • Water Resistance: 1000 meters  
  • Crown: Screw down          
  • Movement: Sellita SW-200
  • Strap/bracelet: Leather, rubber 
  • Price: $950
  • Reference Number: SP-5082-01, SP-5082-02
  • Expected Release: Available now

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The Piccard is directly inspired by the 1960 voyage of the Bathyscaphe Trieste, a two-person submersible that reached the bottom of Challenger Deep (35,757 feet below the surface of the ocean) in January of that year. For the 60th anniversary of this record-setting event, Spinnaker has imagined a watch that draws inspiration from that period of exploration, but built to modern standards. The dramatically domed sapphire crystal, rudimentary dial design, and enormous knurled crown definitely bring to mind the famous experimental Rolex that accompanied the Trieste on its famous trip to the bottom of the sea. But the Piccard uses modern watchmaking technology to keep the watch marginally more wearable than the watches that inspired it, which were, after all, meant to be strapped to the outside of a submarine, and not a human wrist. Let’s be up front: the Piccard is 25mm thick. That’s not an easy-wearing size, although a good percentage of that height can be attributed to the extremely tall crystal.

One of the most interesting design characteristics of the Piccard is actually something that the watch lacks: a rotating dive bezel. We take it for granted today, expecting deep diving watches to have this functionality, but true to the roots of the Deepsea Special the Piccard is fitted with a simple but well-executed brushed, fixed bezel. This forces us to reconcile this watch for what it is: an exercise in design and a tribute to a specific event. Despite its helium escape valve and water resistance to 1000 meters, this isn’t really a tool watch. It’s a careful tribute to the past, and a piece that is squarely aimed at collectors and enthusiasts.  

The specs of the Piccard read like many other modern divers. It’s 47mm in diameter (so, very large, but not outside of Panerai/G-SHOCK territory), cased in titanium, and features a modern Sellita SW-200 movement. It even has a double layered sandwich style dial, which is definitely becoming something of a trend in this particular segment. All that said, it’s tough to imagine actually wearing the Piccard, and while I’m sure Spinnaker wants their customers to wear and enjoy this watch, I don’t think it’s a slight to say that this watch, more than most, is perhaps most at home on display in a collection of 1960s dive ephemera. On the other hand, this is definitely the kind of watch that gets passed around at watch meet-ups and is enthusiastically photographed and gawked at by watch lovers who didn’t know such a thing existed. Regardless of how it appeals, something tells me the Piccard will find its place among the niche group of enthusiasts who would be interested in this type of thing. 

The Piccard is available in both a matte gray, natural titanium finish, and a gold-tone version. The watch is available now in limited quantities, with a retail price of $950. Spinnaker

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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