Gear Review: SPINTSO Ref Watch Pro

As I’ve said before, the thought of spending $147 on a referee watch is enough to make me grab my match fees and hold on tight.  But after using the SPINTSO Ref Watch Pro in several matches, I can unequivocally recommend it with my highest possible 5 star rating.

The watch is manufactured for SPINTSO International AB of Sweden, a company dedicated solely to refereeing technology.  According to the company website (which has more than its’ fair share of broken English), the company derives its’ name from Sport Intelligent Solutions.

Measuring 5 cm across the face by 4.5 cm tall, the SPINTSO Ref Watch Pro is a behemoth, far larger than any other watch I’ve ever worn (referee or otherwise).  The trade-off for this large size is a very easy to read face and easily accessible buttons that can’t be pressed accidentally by large fingers.  Although the watch felt heavy at first, I quickly forgot about it once my first match using it got started.

The watch band is plastic, ensuring that it won’t stay wet from perspiration.  It features 10 sizing holes for the standard watch hasp, so the watch should fit nearly every referee’s wrist.  The band also includes a unique but simple locking mechanism that ensures the end of the strap won’t flop around.

Water resistance to 60 meters means a rain storm or hand washing shouldn’t pose a problem.

It operates on two readily available CR2032 watch batteries.

Build quality appears to be solid, with no problems after use in six matches.  It’s available in two color combinations: black with grey accents or black with orange accents.

The SPINTSO offers three basic modes of operation: normal watch functions like time, date, etc; stopwatch; and referee watch.  For this review, we’ll focus on the referee watch mode.

In referee watch mode, the SPINTSO displays up to four different timers at one time: a countdown timer that stops when you stop for injury time; an elapsed time counter that never stops; an added time timer that runs only when you’ve paused the countdown timer; and a halftime interval timer that runs automatically during halftime.  Both the countdown timer and halftime timer can be preset for any amount of time.

While a match is underway, the Up/Start button is the only button used to control the operation of the watch.  Pressing it starts the timers at the beginning of the match, while pressing it once timing has started pauses the countdown timer and starts the added time timer.  Another press of the Start button restarts the countdown timer when play is ready to resume.  One of the great features of the watch is that added time is automatically calculated and added to the countdown timer; while the math isn’t that hard, those of us who are slightly dyslexic or “math challenged” will appreciate the convenience.

All signals to the wearer are through vibration of the watch; there are no annoying beeps to alert players that time may be up.  The vibrations occur in two patterns: short and long.  Short patterns are used when play is stopped for an injury and continue every 10 seconds while the countdown timer is stopped to remind the referee to restart it once play resumes.  The long vibrations signal the start and end of each half.

I could go on describing the various features of the SPINTSO Referee Watch, but a short demonstration video will give you a much better idea of how it actually works.  In the video, I used two halves of 5 minutes each and a 10 minute halftime period.  (This was so I didn’t have to hang around for 100 minutes with my camcorder).

On the downside, the programming and setup of the watch isn’t all that intuitive, and the user manual needs to be rewritten by a native English speaker.  But these are minor quibbles for a watch that really makes refereeing more enjoyable.

[box style=”light-blue rounded info” ]Tip: once timing is complete in the second half, all timers on the watch stop; not even the elapsed timer continues to run.  If you’re uncomfortable with this arrangement, you can easily add a “third period” during programming so that the watch will keep running after full time plus added time has been reached.[/box]

In summary, the SPINTSO is a well thought out, well constructed time piece clearly developed with soccer referees in mind.  While you may not relish the though of spending $147 on a watch, after using it you may find yourself wondering how you ever got along without it.

SPINTSO Ref Watch Pro is available from the following online retailers (prices current as of 21 February 2016 and include shipping):

Referee, $134 (USPS Priority Mail)

ProReferee, $147 (USPS Priority Mail)

Official Sports, $160 (UPS Ground)


20 responses to “Gear Review: SPINTSO Ref Watch Pro”

  1. The buttons corrode after a few months. Even after they have been replaced under warrantee with “stainless steel” buttons. For the expense this should not be happening. After the corrosion starts the start button sometimes does not work and you need a second press of the button. The 3 second delay for starting time is s nuisance,


  2. It seems you have an “old” version Spintso watch, with some replaced buttons. The “new” watches have buttons that are truly stainless steel. I have been using mine for 6 months now, leaving it wet after rainy games, etc. and had no problems whatsoever.

    Like I said, the older versions had that issue, but the newer ones have none.

    Also, there is no 3 second delay – the longer than usual press-hold operation to start/stop the timers is there to prevent accidental presses. It is a purposeful, well thought feature, not nuisance.


  3. I have owned my Sprintso watch for about 2 yrs and love it. Aside from interpreting the user manual it certainly is quite easy to use. 2 thumbs up for sure.


  4. First, I have had the buttons replaced with the stainless steel ones. They are still corroding. I know of at least two others that have had the same thing. Second, it does take 3 seconds after pressing the start button for the watch to start. That’s a 3 second delay. So, either you really haven’t used the watch, failed to start your watch, or are being paid to say what you say, but the feature is a pain and the 3 seconds each time adds up if doing college or using the added time feature.


  5. Is the watch strap replaceable? Some watches have non standard attachments between strap and watch and so if the strap breaks – and they all do sooner or later – you have to return the watch to the manufacturer.


  6. @ whistleblowr – about the “3 second delay”:

    The watch doesn’t start 3 seconds after you press the start button, it starts after holding the button continuously for said 2/3 seconds.

    That “delay” you speak of is a major FEATURE. The reason you press/hold button for 3 seconds before activating anything in the referee mode is to prevent accidental presses of any kind during the game.

    Hint: You are not supposed to blow your whistle until after you have started your watch 😉


  7. The feature is a poor one and starting your watch before a match is a poor habit. Even if you are one to start before the match the time will still be off.

    It may be hard to admit that the watch has many faults when you sell it on your site. The buttons rot out because of poor quality material. The button “features” make the time inaccurate. You need to trick the watch into continuing to time after 90 minutes because it stops fully at 90.

    For the money, these “feature” should be better.


  8. @whistleblowr

    While we clearly look at the features of the watch very differently, I agree that the buttons issue would be inexcusable.

    While it might not be of much comfort to you in particular, please know that all of our Spintso watches come with NEW, redesigned buttons, that are corrosion free, unlike their predecessors (pre-2013).

    In any case, besides the manufacturer’s 1 year warranty, purchases at are additionally covered by our Triple Guarantee Policy.



  9. UPDATE:
    Just released 2014 Spintso watches have new, improved black buttons and over 30 improvements, most notably stronger anti static electricity protection and updated software.

    Bragging part: If bought from us, it comes with FREE set of 2 replacement batteries included
    and 2-Year Warranty on defects provided exclusively by Soccer Superstore USA, LLC

    Did I mention that we are the cheapest too? 😉


  10. They should replace all buttons on previous models for free. It’s obvious that it is known that the buttons, even the new “stainless” buttons, are defective. Otherwise, why change the design?


  11. This is the best watch I have used. The feature I love the most is not having to constantly monitor you watch during the last 1-2 minutes of each half. The long vibration is perfect for letting me know the half or game is over without alerting anyone else. Very easy to read, especially when marking the time in your book for goals, cautions, etc. I love this watch!


  12. Had the 2013 model for just over 12 months and replaced the battery once and it’s now stopped completely – Great watch, excellent features but it’s not reliable – Does anyone have suggestions for replacement or is Casio / FIFA bringing out a WC2014 watch – they usually have a new watch for the referees at the tournament and thereafter release it commercially – anyone with info?


  13. I have 2 prior 2014 Spintso Watches and the battery life on both of them is terrible. I’m not sure if it is normal but they will both burn through batteries in 3 weeks time. Seems crazy to have to change the battery that much. I love the watch otherwise but I am thinking about going to a different watch because of the constant buying of batteries.


  14. I’m not quite sure I understand why you’d want the timer to stop during an injury if you are also keeping track of added time. If you obeyed the timer and added time for injuries, you’d be doubling the amount of time you should add. Is there a way to keep the timer going while also keeping track of lost time due to injury?


    • There is more than one timer. The one counting down stops when you press the button. At the same time, the added time timer starts counting up. When you restart the watch, the countdown resumes and the added time timer stops. This allows you to quickly look at the watch and know exactly how much added time will be played.


  15. I have the new (black button) Spintso watch that I have used for over a year. The large display, count up/down timer, accident-proof buttons, one-touch operation (sometimes I only have to press the buttons twice in a whole match), and vibration mode make it a perfect time management tool. There are a couple of issues and my suggestions for working with them:

    Button Misfire – this is the biggest annoyance with the watch and is a problem with the newer black button models. The issue is that sometimes when pressing the start button, the watch will not start/pause the timer. Knowing this will happen is important; you can rely on the vibration feedback to know if they watch has started and if it doesn’t, press it again. This doesn’t happen often (maybe 1/50), and the second press almost always works. It has happened more often to me if I’m wearing gloves. If you press the button hard and use your thumb to brace the other side of the watch, it will happen less often.

    DST One-touch – why they decided that the only one-touch feature is to change daylight savings time is beyond me. Be aware that you may occasionally hit it before you freak out that you’re late for your next match.

    Battery Life – I was surprised that I had to replace the batteries after a year. However, consider that the vibration feature requires a lot of power. If it only has to be replaced after several hundred matches, I’m not going to complain. The replacement is easy – just remove the watchband to access the screws to remove the watch back and as said before, the batteries are readily available.


  16. I love the Sprintso watch and can’t wait to use it while refereeing. For some reason the half-time timer doesn’t start automatically and I am unable to start half-time. Could I please have some advice?


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