Beacon watches is a fairly new microbrand, fresh off their successful Indiegogo campaign last year. Are their watches any good? Let’s find out.
Beacon Watches – the Brand
Beacon Watches describes themselves as “a young watch company” with “the vision to connect horology and motivational values”. Like a beacon of hope, their timepieces hope to be a “inspirational bright shining light giving you a feeling of hope and promise to the final, long-awaited destination coming into sight.”
Beacon Watches’ USP seems to be its interchangeable straps, whereby users can engrave motivational quotes. According to the team behind Beacon Watches, the vision is for their customers to switch out the straps with different quotes, depending on the occasion. I think this is a nifty idea (something I’ve not seen on other watch brands at the moment), though ultimately not much more than a gimmick. Let’s see how the actual watch fares!
Beacon Pathfinder – Build Quality
Despite the affordable price tag, the Beacon Pathfinder is actually pretty well built!
Firstly, the Pathfinder utilises a double-domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. I’m surprised to that Beacon opted for a double-domed sapphire crystal at this price range – most affordable watches use a flat sapphire crystal at most. In addition, there’s also an AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Pathfinder is stated as 100M, rendering it suitable for almost all activities except prolonged usage in the water/sea.
Secondly, the Pathfinder is powered by the Miyota 82S7 movement. I’m not surprised – both affordable watches with a sub-second dial use a variant of the Miyota 8 series movement. At this price point, there’s not really a reliable alternative as a sub-second variant of the Seiko NH35 do not exist. In fact, even the much higher priced SevenFriday watches use this Miyota 82S7 movement! I’m usually not a fan of the Miyota 8 series movement due to its stuttering second hand, but this issue does not seem to affect its sub-second variant. This open-heart movement beats at 21600 VPH, with 42 hours of power reserve, and possesses both a sub-seconds dial as well as a 24-hour indicator. However, the movement does not hack, which is a pity.
An Italian top-grain leather strap comes with the Pathfinder. I must say, I quite like the strap. The olive green strap complements the dial colour nicely, and I like the suede like texture. It’s quite comfortable on the wrist as well. Definitely a step above those “Genuine leather” garbage that one often finds on sub-S$500 watches!
As aforementioned, one of Beacon watches’ USP (unique selling point) is its engraved straps. Beacon watches offer complimentary engraving service on the straps with all watches purchased, with the hopes that customers would customise multiple straps and interchange the straps depending on the occasion and the quotes. On mine, I decided to engrave the phrase: “Don’t Stop, Keep Walking” – a motivational quote from one of my favourite animes, D Gray Man. I think the engraving is quite nicely done, and it adds a nice touch to the watch, though I personally wouldn’t be buying multiple watch straps (and engraving them with different quotes).
Being a pilot-style watch, legibility in the dark is traditionally paramount. On this front, the Pathfinder doesn’t disappoint with its hands and indices generously coated in Swiss Super-luminova C3. Lume heads won’t be disappointed with this watch!
Overall, I think the Pathfinder presents a lot of value for its ~S$400 asking price. One gets a double-domed sapphire crystal with AR coating, an open heart automatic movement with sub-seconds dial and a 24 hour indicator, an engraved top-grain leather strap, as well as bright Swiss Super-luminova C3. From a specifications standpoint, there’s very little I can fault with it, given its asking price!
Beacon Pathfinder – Design
They say green dials are coming into trend this year, and with the Beacon Pathfinder, I now get the hype.
Firstly, I love that green dial, especially when combined with the rose-gold bezel. Green aviator watches are rare – in fact, I personally have not seen a green pilot watch before! I’m not entirely sure why, because the colour combination is immensely refreshing. I also like the big, bold indices, very in keeping with the aviation style. I think the open-heart at 7 o’clock keeps the dial interested as well – pilot watches design can get a tad bland, but that’s certainly not the case here! Lastly, I appreciate the subtle concentric texture of the sub-seconds dial, as well as on the 24 hour indicator dial – I like the texture contrast, and it adds a slight sheen to the watch.
However, there are some things that I didn’t like. Firstly, I think that the cathedral hands are a tad too slim proportionately. The Pathfinder is a big watch (45mm wide), and the usage of these slim cathedral hands just looks a bit off. Secondly, I’m also not a fan of the minute track. It’s near impossible to tell the time accurately – the markers doesn’t aid in time-telling at all, and instead only serves to clutter the dial. I would have much preferred a simple railway pad minute track here.
I quite like the finishing present on the Pathfinder. The main caseside is brushed, with polished edges for some nice contrast. I particularly like the big antique style crown – combined with the wire like lugs, it really lends a pleasant vintage vibe to the Pathfinder. In addition, the size of the crown means that the watch is a pleasure to hand-wind as well!
In addition, all Pathfinders come with what Beacon calls “The Beacon Signature Plate”, which is essentially a stainless steel plate screwed to the side of the watch that displays its serial number. Now, I’m sure some might say it’s nothing more than a gimmick, but I actually rather like it as it gives the watch a semblance of exclusivity. In any case, it’s a nice effort by an affordable microbrand – I know of ‘limited edition’ watches twice the price that simply lazily inscribe “1 of 50” on each of their caseback instead.
The exhibition caseback of the Pathfinder is rather simple, with a few relevant specifications inscribed. I appreciated the slight decoration (Geneva stripes) of the movement – not many affordable mechanical watches even feature an exhibition caseback, much less decoration on the movement.
On the wrist, the Pathfinder is rather big. Though it wears smaller than its 45mm case size suggests due to its short wire lugs, it is still quite a hulking presence on the wrist. On my 7 inch wrist, the size of the Pathfinder is right at the maximum of what I personally find acceptable. I think the large case size of the Pathfinder is a shame – I understand that pilot watches are traditionally bigger in size, but at 45mm the Pathfinder is going to be outside the comfort zone of many watch enthusiasts.
All in all, I think there were both hits and misses in the design of the Beacon Pathfinder. I love the combination of the pine green dial with the rose gold bezel as well as the open-heart design, but am much less enthused by the slim hands, confusing minute track, and hulking 45mm diameter.
Shootout: Beacon Pathfinder vs Whytes Tera Nova
For this shootout, I will be comparing the Beacon Pathfinder with the Whytes Tera Nova, as it is one of the only affordable microbrand watches that also use the Miyota 82S7 movement.
From a specifications standpoint, the Beacon Pathfinder edges out the Whytes Tera Nova. While both watches uses a Miyota 82S7 movement, as well as double-domed sapphire crystal with AR coating, the Pathfinder also boasts an engraved top-grain leather strap, as well as Swiss C3 Superluminova. In contrast, the Tera Nova only comes with a standard “Real Leather” strap, and does not have lume.
In terms of design, the fight is much closer. The Tera Nova is much more dressy, while the Pathfinder definitely veers more towards an aviator styled watch. Ultimately, which design is better depends on the style of watch you’re looking for. If you’re into something more minimalist and dressy, I think the Tera Nova is a good looker, especially with its thoughtful use of red. If you’re into something bigger, and more bold styling, the Pathfinder with its combination of green and rose gold makes for quite a statement on the wrist.
Where the Pathfinder ultimately triumphs over the Tera Nova is in its value. Despite possessing the better specifications, the Pathfinder is over ~S$100 cheaper than the Tera Nova! As such, I think the Pathfinder is the better bang-for-buck option, and emerges as the winner of this shootout.
Conclusion – so the Beacon Pathfinder “shiok” or not?
As aforementioned, I think the Beacon Pathfinder is a good value proposition. The Miyota 82S7 movement is nothing to be scoffed at – it is used in 4 figures watches from brands such as SevenFriday and Dietrich. The fact that the Pathfinder also utilises a double-domed sapphire crystal, comes with a great engraved top-grain leather strap, and possesses Swiss C3 Superluminova makes it a lot of watch for relatively little. If you can pull off the 45mm case size of the Pathfinder, I think the watch (especially in this Pine Gold variant) would make for a bold look on the wrist!
For those interested in the Pathfinder, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant readers a whooping 15% off! After the discount, the Pathfinder can be had for just $305 USD/ ~S$413, which I think is a great price. Given that the Pathfinder is Beacon Watches’ maiden offering, I can’t wait to see what future designs are in store!
View the full Pathfinder range from Beacon Watches here.
Movement: Japanese-Seiko Miyota Automatic – 82S7
Watch Diameter: 45mm
Strap Diameter: 22mm
Casing Material: 316L Surgical-Grade Stainless Steel
Front-Facing Crystal: Double-Domed Sapphire Crystal, with Anti-Reflective Coating
Case Back: Exhibition-style, with Scratch-Resistant Crystal Glass
Luminous Pigments: Swiss Super-LumiNova C3 (Applied on Hands, Indices, and Numerals)
Water Resistance: Up to 10 ATM /100-meter certified and tested
Strap Material: Italian Top-Grain Leather
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!