The Spinnaker SP-5129 Dolphin Project puts a playful twist on the wave dial The Spinnaker SP-5129 Dolphin Project puts a playful twist on the wave dial

The Spinnaker SP-5129 Dolphin Project puts a playful twist on the wave dial

Buffy Acacia

No brand is too small to be embracing the environmental awareness which has been creeping into watchmaking more and more in past years, and it seems that the latest endeavour has been made by Spinnaker. Teaming up with Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project who have aimed to end all dolphin suffering since 1970, Spinnaker has come up with an aquatic dial set for their most classic diver design. The Spinnaker SP-5129 Croft Mid-Size Automatic Dolphin Project Limited Edition is a bit of a mouthful, but surely a joy to dolphin lovers worldwide.

The dial

Spinnaker Dolphin Project 2 copy

Launching straight into the dial, it’s impressive how subtle Spinnaker has managed to keep its design despite the sheer number of dolphins worked into it. The centre sector has a repeating pattern of diving dolphins, however from a distance away it mostly just looks like some kind of enticing wave dial. There’s also a dolphin counterbalancing the seconds hand in a slightly more obvious way, constantly spinning around the centre pinion. Where the repeating pattern really comes to life is after dark, as the luminous army of dolphins shines brightly along with the hour markers, hands, and the fully-lumed bezel markings.

Aside from the dolphins themselves, the SP-5129’s dial is quite compelling. The harshly stippled outer sector lends a considerable amount of depth, as does the double-stepped date window. Three colours have been made available, a ubiquitous navy “Ocean Blue”, of course, while the “Ocean Black” gets off-white luminous paint. But, the superstar is the “Ocean Turquoise” reference with its delightful tones of seafoam green. Bright and unusual colours have done extremely well on divers in the last couple of years, but this particular shade is perfect for the marine theme of the Dolphin Project.

The case

Spinnaker Dolphin Project 1 copy

Spinnaker is best known for some of their wackier designs, the Croft, however, is where they play things safe. There’s a distinct 1960s origin to its silhouette, however, the dimensions and ruggedness are solidly contemporary. With brushed stainless steel making up the case’s majority and polished chamfers along the edges, there’s really not much space to go wrong. It’s a simple, hardy sports watch case that is water resistant to a dive-friendly depth of 150 metres and a screw-down crown.

The 40mm diameter aims for a middle ground between wearability and modern presence, and I’d say it hits the mark. A 47mm lug-to-lug length and a 14mm thickness keep things both chunky and moderate, ensuring that a majority of wrists can enjoy the watch. With all of the steel bracelet links, the total weight comes in at 200g. That’s certainly on the heavy side, which contributes to an overall sense of toughness.

The bracelet

Spinnaker Dolphin Project 3

The Spinnaker SP-5129 wouldn’t be a complete diver package without its Oyster-style steel bracelet, however, it also comes with an extra fabric strap with some significance. The straps, which are navy for the blue model, red for the black model, and light blue for the turquoise model, are made from recycled PET plastics. It’s the same kind of PET that the Dolphin Project uses in some of their merchandise, actually. The 20mm lug width gives you lots of options should you wish to experiment with third-party straps.

The movement

Spinnaker Dolphin Project 4

As with most Spinnaker watches, the Dolphin Project Limited Edition is very much aimed at the budget-friendly end of the market. The Seiko NH35 movement which powers this watch is a fan-favourite among microbrands, allowing all the creature comforts of hacking seconds and hand-winding while remaining so affordable it’s sometimes cheaper to replace than service. They’re also easily adjustable, so if you’re unlucky with your watch’s timekeeping, it can be coaxed into better performance with little effort.

The verdict

Spinnaker Dolphin Project 5

Spinnaker’s stranger designs have definitely been divisive in the past, but the SP-5129 Croft Dolphin Project Limited Edition is undoubtedly one of their prettiest and most accessible watches to date. The inclusion of the dolphins is subtle enough that it could be worn wherever you might normally wear a diver, and yet it also supports a great cause.

Spinnaker SP-5129 Croft Dolphin Project Limited Edition pricing and availability

The Spinnaker SP-5129 Croft Dolphin Project Limited Edition is available now, limited to 600 pieces (200 pieces of each colour). Price: US$425.

Brand Spinnaker
Model SP-5129 Croft Dolphin Project Limited Edition
Reference Number SP-5129-11
Case Dimensions 40mm (D) x 14mm (T) x 47mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 150 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Blue, black, turquoise
Lug Width 20mm
Strap Stainless steel bracelet plus recycled PET fabric strap
Movement Seiko NH35, automatic
Power Reserve 41 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Limited edition of 600 pieces (200 per colour)
Price US$425