Phoibos Great Wall
Break the Walls Dowwwnnn! That is what has been going through my head as I write this review. If you are familiar with Chris Jericho you will get that reference, but on a more serious note, the Phoibos Great Wall is the latest upcoming model from this Chinese microbrand and is another watch that offers a lot for not that much money, just $500 to be exact. That $500 gets you a really unique design and a lot of great specifications, and I can easily say it is my favorite Phoibos watch to date.
Phoibos Great Wall Specifications:
- Caliber No.: SWISS ETA 2824-2 Standard
- Case:316L Stainless steel
- Fitted Rubber Strap
- Glass: Double Domed Sapphire crystal with 3 layers anti-reflective undercoating
- Water resistance: 500M(1650ft) automatic helium escape valve
- Case size: 42 mm dia. 48mm lug to lug 14.5mm thickness (include sapphire crystal)
- 22m Lug Width
- Bezel:120-click unidirectional sapphire bezel
- Crown: Triple-lock Screw-Down crown
- Lume: X1 Grade 15 layers Super-LumiNova C3 on hands, indices and bezel marking
- Weight: 200g
- Warranty: 2 year
- Price $500
Available May 22nd 2019
Yes, the Phoibos Great Wall offers an excellent value, especially when looking at all the specifications. But specs do not always tell the entire story as you know. The aesthetic, the machining, the finishing, how it wears, etc, all play a part in how a watch comes together. There are many watches that have great specs for a low price these days, but that doesn’t always translate into a great watch. If I were to give the Great Wall a grade, it would be a B+. There are a few reasons for this, and some of this reasoning is subjective, while others are just plain fact. One of the reasons that this watch does not get an A from me is the finishing is a little rough, especially on the undersides of the crown guards, lugs and bracelet edges. Keep in mind, yes, this is a $500 watch and there is almost always going to be imperfections. With the case, you really can’t feel this while on the wrist, but you can with the bracelet, especially if you wear it a little on the loose side.
Before I move on to some of the other areas that I feel are lacking, let’s talk about that dial, as that is something that I feel can be polarizing. From our posts on social media, many do seem to like the brick dial pattern, but there were a few, at least ones that were vocal about it, that found it to be a turn-off. For me, I love it. It is what makes the watch stand out, and without it, I am not sure this Phoibos would have the same wow factor. The grey and blue color combo was my favorite of the bunch but take a look at the other variations available, as if you want something even more audacious they have a gorgeous blue and orange combo that really stands out.
The brick pattern is not the only unique aspect of the dial though as the choice of the large shield hour markers is something you immediately notice. Again, I like it. Everyone is always asking for something different from microbrands and while this does have a case shape similar to some other microbrands and the bezel insert is obviously Fifty-Fathoms inspired, the dial of this dive watch is very original. I get it, it will not be for everyone, but that is okay. I think they did something that is funky, but not over the top or gimmicky. Yes, it still has the large octopus logo, which I can personally do without, but of all the Phoibos watches I think this logo works best on the Great Wall.
One of the great aspects of this model is that while it appears to be a chunky large dive watch, especially in photos, it really is not. At 42mm wide with a lug to lug of only 48mm, this is going to be a very wearable watch for many wrist sizes. It is definitely right in my sweet spot for a daily wearer. At 13.5mm thick (not incluuding domed sapphire crystal), it is not the thinnest dive watch out there but it is not one of those clunky, chunky-monkeys at 16mm or more either. What continues to be (mainly) a microbrand trend that just won’t seem to die, is the use of the helium release valve on the non-crown side of the case. I just absolutely hate these as they are nothing more than a pure gimmick for 99% of us, as they are only useful to those in a saturation diving chamber. I know, I sound like a broken record repeating this all the time, but just maybe if I continue to do so, brands will stop putting this absolute useless feature on dive watches.
As I mentioned earlier, the bracelet is a little rough or sharp, especially on the sides, but for me, the issue with the bracelet is it just doesn’t really go with this Phoibos Great Wall. I understand as a smaller microbrand, having custom made bracelets really is not an option, especially at these prices, but there is just something about this particular bracelet that just feels like it does not belong to this watch. The bracelet itself is fine, though I am not a fan of having to use to Allen screws to remove the links, and that there are two screws in each link, so depending on your wrist size, you could be sizing this thing for quite a while. That said, it is a large bracelet that should fit at least an 8 1/2 inch wrist and also has a very solid and chunky dive clasp with the ratchet extension mechanism.
My preferred way to wear this model is definitely on the included fitted rubber strap. Unlike the bracelet though, this strap is on the short side, as I am in the third hole from the end with only a 7 1/2 inch wrist. I know you can not make a rubber or leather strap that can fit all wrist sizes, but I do wish they made this one a little bit larger. As far as look and comfort though, this is the way to go. It not only lightens the weight but just gives the watch a more streamlined look and wraps right around the wrist.
With the Phoibos Great Wall, I was obviously expecting the lume to be fantastic. When you look at the size of those markers and the surface area, it is easy to understand why. As you can see, I was not disappointed, C3 X1 Superluminova is the new gold standard, at least for non-proprietary lume compounds. If lume is important to you, this one not only glows very bright but lasts pretty much throughout the night (not at full brightness of course).
Despite not liking the bracelet and the few spots that have some rough or sharp edges, I can honestly say I really like the Phoibos Great Wall and would easily wear this on a regular basis, especially on the rubber strap. It is a little funky, but that is the appeal. I don’t know, maybe my grade of B+ was a little harsh and I should have given it an A-? Maybe it is somewhere in between or right on edge, but let’s hear from you below and let us know what you think. It is not lacking in the movement department either, even though it is a standard grade, this model has an ETA 2824 automatic beating inside of it, which many will find to be a huge plus. There is no doubt to me that this is the best watch Phoibos has produced to date and I hope they continue in this direction with more original designs.