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)