The Great Wall is undoubtedly Phoibos’ best built watch till date, boasting a terrific specifications list. Let’s take a look at it in detail!
Phoibos – The Brand
I’ve previously covered Phoibos as a brand in my previous review of the Phoibos Eagle Ray. If you haven’t yet already done so, you can read the review here.
Phoibos Great Wall – Build Quality
As aforementioned, the Great Wall possesses, without doubt, the best specifications in Phoibos’ current lineup.
Firstly, the Phoibos Great Wall 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. The sapphire crystal is also coated with 3 layers of AR coating, so you don’t have to worry about getting nasty reflections. In addition, the Great Wall features a helium escape valve and screw-down crowns, resulting in a whooping 500m WR rating. As such, you should have no issues wearing it along to the pool, beach, scuba diving, etc.
At the heart of the Phoibos Great Wall is the ETA 2824-2 movement. This movement needs no introduction – commonly found in watches from Swiss luxury brands such as Longines, Oris, Omega, Tudor, etc. The ETA 2824-2 is probably the most desired movement to be had in a microbrand watch, especially when compared to its Sellita/STP/Miyota counterparts. Some specifications: The ETA 2824-2 has 38 hours of power reserve, hacking feature, 4 Hz operating frequency, 25 Jewels and an ETACHRON regulator system. It is one of the most recognizable movements in the watchmaking industry, so getting it serviced should be no problem (aside from the cost, of course). If I’m not mistaken, the Great Wall is the first Phoibos watch to get a Swiss movement. I’m actually pleasantly surprised that Phoibos is still able to get their hands on the ETA 2824 movements, given the fact that ETA movements are getting harder to come by nowadays.
The Phoibos Great Wall comes default on a metal bracelet. The metal bracelet is actually pretty solid and hefty, while the clasp is well machined and engraved with both the Phoibos name and logo. There’s also a diver’s extension to the clasp, in case you’re one of the rare few planning to actually dive with it on. As compared to the bracelets on cheaper dive watches – for example, from Seiko or Orient – the bracelet of the Great Wall is undoubtedly better built. However, the bracelet is full of sharp edges, and it can cut into the skin sometimes, making the Great Wall uncomfortable to wear on the wrist. I definitely would have preferred to see some bevelled edges here!
As such, I found myself significantly preferring the Phoibos Great Wall on a rubber strap. Not only is it immensely comfortable because of the curved ends design, it also gives the watch a sporty vibe that I love. I found myself playing tennis, going to the pool, gym, etc with the Great Wall, and it feels perfectly at home on my wrist!
Lastly, the Phoibos Great Wall boasts some of the brightest and longest lasting lume that I’ve ever experienced. The Great Wall features 15 layers of X1 Grade Super-LumiNova C3 on its hands, indices and bezel marking, and it is freaking fantastic. For those uninitiated with lume, X1 is the highest grade of Swiss Superluminova available, with TriTec (the manufacturer of Swiss Superluminova) stating that it “shows a performance increase of up to 60% after two hours compared to the standard grade.” If you’re a lume head, the Phoibos Great Wall certainly won’t disappoint.
All in all, the Phoibos Great Wall packs a real punch in the specifications department. It features a double-domed sapphire crystal with 3 layers of AR coating, 500M WR rating due to its screw-down crowns and helium escape valve, a venerable ETA 2824-2 movement, 2 strap options, and brilliant (literally) 15 layers of X1 Grade Super-LumiNova C3. Phoibos went all out in every aspect of the watch here!
Phoibos Great Wall – Design
The Great Wall comes in a variety of different colourways, but the baby blue dial variant is definitely my favourite.
When I first saw the baby blue variant of the Aerospace GMT, it immediately reminded me of Zodiac Limited Edition Aerospace GMT, which features a similar baby blue/orange colour combination. However, the Phoibos Great Wall takes the colour palette a step further by featuring a baby blue dial as well! I think the pastel colours really make the Great Wall stand out from the many other dive watches on the market, the majority of which has rather muted dials. When I see the Phoibos Great Wall, it immediately reminds me of the beach – blue seas, blue skies, and a Blue Lagoon cocktail in my hands. I just think the light blue dial makes it such a fun watch to wear.
In case you haven’t already noticed, the dial of the Phoibos features a brick-like texture that is meant to resemble the iconic Great Wall of China. I’m a tad conflicted about this. On one hand, I find the texture quite intriguing, and it is one that I have personally not seen on other watches before. I also love the fact that Phoibos – being a Chinese brand – is paying homage to its roots and heritage. However, I also feel that it doesn’t make much sense for a dive watch to feature a motif of the Great Wall of China, which is very much a monument on land. As I mentioned earlier, the watch evokes to me the beach, and the Great Wall of China is pretty far from any beaches. In addition, I’m not too sure about the broad arrowhead indices at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock too. Thematically, the arrowhead design makes sense given the Great Wall theme (Chinese archers used to fire death upon their enemies on the wall), but I’m on the fence – or rather wall – about it. That being said, I do like the orange accents of the indices as well as the orange minute hand, which I feel complements the baby blue/orange bezel nicely.
Aside from the lovely colour scheme – which I’ve already raved about – the 120 click uni-directional bezel of the Phoibos Great Wall is also made from sapphire, resulting in it being incredibly scratch resistant. This is one that you can bang about without worries of getting scratches on both the dial and the bezel. In addition, I also adore the vintage aesthetics of the bezel, which is reminiscent of the acrylic bezels on the dive watches of old. Furthermore, the bezel comes adorned with prominent protruding edges, making the bezel an ease to rotate. It’s a pretty solid bezel as well, without little to no play.
On the side, we get a screwed-down crown that is nicely signed with the Phoibos logo. It’s well sized too, making winding the watch a joy. The case itself is brushed finished, giving the watch an industrial, tool watch feel. It also features a lot of bevelled edges, resulting in a striking case with a lot of wrist presence.
Like the rest of the case, the screwed-down caseback is brushed finished, featuring an artwork of the Great Wall of China. It’s alright – it’s not the most detailed caseback artwork I’ve seen, but nor is it the worst.
On paper, the Phoibos Great Wall is 42mm wide, has a lug-to-lug dimensions of 48mm, and comes in at a thickness of 14.5mm. On my 7 inch wrists, I would say that the watch fits nicely. It’s a tad on the bulkier side, but then again the Great Wall is billed as a dress watch so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. It is rather heavy though at 200 grams, so if you’re the type that likes big, sturdy watches the Great Wall would be right up your alley.
Overall, I quite like the aesthetics of the Phoibos Great Wall. I love the baby blue/orange colours, vintage looking sapphire bezel, the detailed case, and the intriguing brick-like texture of the dial. The only aspect I’m conflicted on is the arrowhead indices at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock – I just think it’s too broad, especially when compared to the other indices.
Shootout: Phoibos Great Wall vs Seiko Samurai “Save the Ocean”
If you’re looking for a dive watch – with a textured dial – around the ~S$600+ price range, the Seiko Samurai “Save the Ocean” is undoubtedly one of the main options. As such, the classic Seiko Samurai shall be the competition to the Phoibos Great Wall for today!
In terms of specifications, the Phoibos Great Wall undoubtedly triumphs over the Seiko Samurai “Save the Ocean” in nearly every regard. The Great Wall uses a double-domed sapphire crystal with 3 layers of AR coating, which is significantly more scratch resistant than the hardlex crystal used on the Samurai. The Great Wall also uses the Swiss ETA 2824-2 movement, as compared to the rather pedestrian 4R35 movement found in the Samurai. Furthermore, the Great Wall comes with an additional rubber strap. In addition, the Great Wall features strong lume due to its usage of 15 layers of X1 Swiss SuperLuminova C3, which definitely outshines the lumibrite found on the Samurai. Lastly, the Great Wall boasts a WR rating for 500m, which more than doubles the 200M WR rating of the Samurai.
From an aesthetics standpoint, it’s a much closer fight. Both watches feature nice textured dials, and strikingly finished cases. Here, I would say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it really depends on personal taste. I would wager that the majority of watch enthusiasts would prefer the looks of the Seiko Samurai “Save the Ocean” – if I had were looking for an everyday watch I would be wearing the Samurai as well. However, if you’re a watch enthusiast that already has a few dive watches in your collection, and are looking for something different for the weekend, I think the Great Wall makes for a great fun option, especially this baby blue variant.
However, given that both watches are priced similarly, I have to give the edge over to the Phoibos Great Wall as it triumphs the Seiko Samurai in every aspect of the specs sheet.
Conclusion – so the Phoibos Great Wall “shiok” or not?
As aforementioned, if you’re looking for a fun weekend dive watch – that happens to be built like a rock – the Phoibos Great Wall is a terrific option. When I first reviewed the Phoibos Eagle Ray, I commented that it was heartening to see Phoibos moving away from cheap – albeit well-built – homages to more original designs. I think the Great Wall is indicative of Phoibos’ coming-of-age, and cements their position as not just a watch manufacturer, but as a designer as well.
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Phoibos’ web-store! After the discount, the Phoibos Great Wall can be had at just $450 USD/ ~S$637. I think it’s great value, especially when you look at the specifications that it boasts. It’s a rare but lovely colourway, and every time I wear it on my wrist it puts a smile on my face. It is also worth noting that Phoibos provides 2 years of warranty on this watch – most microbrands simply offer 12 months. If you reside in Los Angeles, USA, Phoibos even has an authorized service center located there!
Buy the Phoibos Great Wall here.
Caliber No.: SWISS ETA 2824-2 Standard
Case:316L Stainless steel
Embossed Case Back and Crown
Band:22mm width 316L Stainless Steel Band with diver’s extension clasp
One custom rubber strap free
Glass:Double Domed Sapphire crystal with 3 layers anti reflective under coating
Water resistance: 500M(1650ft) automatic helium escape valve
Case size: 42 mm dia. 48mm lug to lug 14.5mm thickness (include sapphire crystal)
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
Warranty: 2 year
Origin: Made in Hong Kong
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