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For many horologists, an automatic movement is a must, because for watch lovers a timepiece is not just a timekeeper, but an art worn on the wrist. However, there are obvious downsides to these mechanical marvels, the most obvious one is its accuracy. This is made even more obvious when everyone has mobile phones these days that are synced with atomic clocks, it doesn't take long for the time on your automatic watch to go out of sync with the rest of the world.

So what if you wanted something accurate on your wrist, while still enjoying the perks of automatic watches? In comes the Meca-Quartz movement that's at the heart of the new Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph. What's it like wearing this watchmaker's latest creation for the last 30 days? Let's dive in to find out.


Meca-Quartz movement: accuracy and a sweeping hand

As my first encounter with a Meca-Quartz movement watch, to be honest, the secret horologist in me wanted to turn my nose up at the mention of 'quartz'. However after swapping out my usual automatic for the Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph, memories of how convenient and accurate a quartz watch flooded right back. Gone are the constant checking for accuracy and daily rewound. Instead it just quietly ticks away, steadily and reliably.

But what about the desire for mechanical goodness in me? Actually from a purely visual perspective, what makes an automatic an automatic is either the movement that I'd admire through the transparent back from time to time, or the sweeping second hand - with the latter being much more obvious on a day-to-day basis: nothing says 'quartz' faster than the ticking second hand.

This is where the 'meca' comes in with the Seiko VK64 - TMI Meca-Quartz movement encased in the Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph. When the start button on the chronograph is pressed, the beautiful sweeping motion of the second hand begins. Since the chronograph is only made to time up to 60 minutes, the fluid second hand won't drain too much power from the watch, resetting itself after an hour's time.

For those who appreciate mechanical chronographs, you will also love the fact that the meca-quartz stopwatch resets like a mechanical one. Instead of the second hand sweeping back to the 12 o'clock position as quartz stopwatches do, this one snaps back to zero at the press of the reset button.


Well sized cushion case - fits right under the cuff

At 42 mm diameter and 15 mm thick, the Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph is a good medium sized watch to wear, and I didn't run into much trouble fitting it under business shirts. Featuring a stainless steel cushion case and a tachymeter fixed bezel, the watch looks great with both formal wear and polo-T's. The fixed bezel also means you get a generous 35 mm lens and watchface, offering easy legibility.


Sunburst oxblood face - subtle red highlight

The new California edition of the Spinnaker Hull comes in four color variations: Vintage black, Oxblood, Fumee Blue and the All Black. Spinnaker sent the Oxblood for this hands-on review, and though personally I would have usually preferred the vintage black's low-key minimalist look, I have to say that the sunburst red in the Oxblood variant grew on me over time.

I grew especially fond of the hint of crimson in the watchface when I paired it up with a maroon tie and white shirt, which really did something that a black watch could not do by providing a hint of highlight that's subtle but adds to the overall look. Who knew that I would appreciate some red in my watchface?


Striking California Dial

Love it or hate it, what can't be disputed is that the California Dial is striking. The design puts the indices half Roman (10 o'clock to 2 o'clock) and half Arabic numerals (4 o'clock to 8 o'clock) with the hours of 3, 6, and 9 replaced with a dash instead of a numeral and an inverted triangle in place of the 12.

A quick glance at the watch can give pause, and it's hard for the brain to discern whether it's giving off a classic or modern vibe, which is what makes the dial unique and striking.

The color scheme of the indices and hands also adds to the outstanding aesthetics, with the indices being in a lemon color and the hands in brushed brass. Together with the sunburst red - it's definitely not a combo that can easily be found on other watches, and is perfect for someone looking for something with a distinct character.


Very comfortable stainless steel bracelet

Personally I have developed a love/hate relationship with stainless steel watch bracelets. I love the strong metallic aesthetics it adds to an outfit, but in terms of comfort and weight, I have always found it wanting in comparison to silicon rubber straps.

The 22 mm five-link solid bracelet on the Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph however is the most comfortable bracelet that I have worn. The five-link design gives the bracelet superior pliability, like a fine chain mail would follow the contour over the body, these bracelets do so in a way that others bracelets don't. By tapering the 22 mm width at the lug to a 18 mm width near the deployment buckle, the weight and bulk of the bracelet is reduced to both look and feel more like a dress watch than a tool watch.


Chronograph with screw down pushers

Being a chronograph, the Spinnaker Hull California features an inscribed tachymeter on its bezel, and a miniature minute dial at the 9 o'clock position. What sets it apart however is the screw down pushers that compliments the screw down crown.


Both the start/stop and reset push buttons can only be used when the rings are unscrewed, preventing accidental pushes. The rings are of an adequate size, making undoing them very easy.


Final Verdict

As my first experience with a meca-quartz watch, the Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph has definitely been an eye opener for me of how useful and satisfying a hybrid movement can be. I enjoyed both the accuracy of the quartz timekeeper, as well as indulged in the sweeping second hand driven by its mechanical heart. The striking aesthetics of the California dial makes this watch ideal for someone looking for that extra flair in their watch collection.


Because of how comfortable it is to wear, together with its accurate timekeeping, this is a watch that I would wear on a daily basis, and a watch that I recommend for business travelers.

The Spinnaker Hull California Chronograph is awarded with IBT's Editor's Pick for a business traveler's watch.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move and is on a mission to explore ways to make his overhaul flights more enjoyable. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travelers.