Hands-On With The Ghostly Spinnaker Fleuss Automatic Seconde/Seconde/ Limited Edition
Never without a sense of whimsy, seconde/seconde/ returns with another collaboration just in time for Halloween. This time, Spinnaker offers the Fleuss diver as a willing host for this haunting. The “50 Phantoms” tag on the dial is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Blancpain that inspired the Fleuss watch in its original form and the prowl of specters plastered across the dial. The result is, frankly, much less practical but much more fun.
Let’s get this out of the way early. If you want a watch that is sleek, smart, and easy to read, then this isn’t the one for you. Many of seconde/seconde’s collaborations start and end with a quirky handset tied closely to a theme. Others are a little less subtle. The “50 Phantoms” is as in-your-face as it gets. Try adding 50 ghosts to a dial without it becoming congested. It’s not possible. But the whole point of this watch is the busyness of the dial — that and the complete inability to ignore or escape from those apparitions.
A dive watch at heart
Beneath the ghoulish embellishments is the Spinnaker Fleuss, a capable dive watch with styling cues borrowed from the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. The Fleuss name refers to Henry Albert Fleuss, a master diver and dive engineer. Although the famous Fifty Fathoms model is mentioned above as inspiration and rather bluntly hinted at in the seconde/seconde/ theme, only the convex bezel takes direct inspiration for most of Spinnaker’s existing Fleuss line. However, the diamond-shaped hour indices hiding among the phantoms on the dial also hark back to that Blancpain reference.
Observed in isolation, the Fleuss features a nicely curved 43mm diameter case, which is largely brushed apart from a thin chamfer running from lug to lug on each side. Despite the large diameter and accompanying 51mm lug-to-lug length, which would typically push the limits of my comfort zone, the watch doesn’t feel overbearing. Only the protruding crown reduces the overall comfort on my wrist to any real degree. The dial surface, where it can be seen, is nicely textured. It shifts the color between black and gray depending on the angle of the light hitting it. I like the commitment to the theme with ghosts overlapping the Spinnaker name and the “No feet” pun in the lower half of the dial.
A glowing gathering of ghosts
The days of a lumed crown being memorable are long gone, so this Fleuss Automatic Seconde/Seconde/ goes above and beyond. Not only does this collaboration have luminous stitching on the black leather strap, but a final lumed ghost also makes an appearance on the exhibition case back. The budget-friendly Seiko NH38 automatic movement isn’t the prettiest, so a secret spirit just for the wearer is a bonus.
Usually, when I would suggest that the lume is crazy, I would be talking about how brightly it shines or how it makes reading the time in the dark a breeze. When the lights go off, the watch is a riot of ghosts in three colors, camouflaging the hands. As fun as it is, you are in for a fright if you try to make sense of it in the dark. The photos convey this better than any words could.
Function might not be at the top of the shopping list with this collaboration, but it is a time-telling device, and it performs the basics reasonably well. The standard accuracy for the Seiko NH38 is between -20 and +40 seconds per day, typically giving over 40 hours of power reserve. There is no date window to clutter the dial (would you even be able to find it?), and the hands make a valiant attempt at being visible against the hour markers and minute track. You can use the 120-click unidirectional bezel to time intervals between paranormal activity.
Strapping the Fleuss Automatic Seconde/Seconde/ on the wrist
Inside the box is an extra 22mm FKM rubber strap, and both straps come with quick-release spring bars fitted. Although the leather strap elevates the cool factor through the glow-in-the-dark stitching, I found the rubber strap more comfortable. The additional friction that the strap provides has helped the watch head stay nicely planted on my 17.5cm (7”) wrist. The case diameter is slightly larger than most watches in my usual rotation but not absurdly so. A few millimeters smaller would reduce the visual impact of what is a statement piece. It would also likely might make it challenging to squeeze all of those phantoms in.
At US$445, the Spinnaker Fleuss Automatic Seconde/Seconde/ Limited Edition offers something entirely different from anything else out there. I can’t pretend it’s a watch for everyone. And that’s good because only 670 are being made! But I am always pleased to see new releases that are so intent on putting a smile on people’s faces. The chances are that if you buy one, your face will light up with joy (or lume) each time you glance down at your wrist. There will be 500 pieces available in the configuration seen here and 170 with a gray ‘”ghost” bezel. For more information, head to the official Spinnaker website.
Update — 30/10/2023: While this limited edition sold out in just a few minutes Spinnaker has just announced a “make-up plan” of sorts to help those who missed out due to notification emails getting lost and access codes not working. From 8am GMT on November 4th, through to 10am GMT on November 6th, Spinnaker will make a blue dial version of the 50 Phantoms available as an open pre-order. This means that everyone who missed out and wants a 50 Phantoms to call their own, will have the chance to grab one during the 50-hour order window. Spinnaker expects deliveries of the blue dial models to commence in March 2024.