Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing the new Kraken from Hong Kong watch brand Phoibos.
The Kraken is not only Phoibos’ latest dive watch, but also one of its best-specced to date. Let’s see if it’s any good.
Phoibos Kraken – Video Review
For those interested in viewing some hands-on footage of the Phoibos Kraken, do check out my Youtube review below:
Phoibos – the Brand
Phoibos is a brand that I’m familiar with, having reviewed multiple of its watches in the past. I’ve previously covered Phoibos’ brand story in my review of its Eagle Ray. I also reviewed the Great Wall here, the Proteus here, the Voyager here, the Leviathan here, the Eagle Ray Compressor here, the Nebula here, and most recently the Apollo here. I’ve been generally impressed with the dive watches that I’ve reviewed from Phoibos – they are some of the best offerings in the affordable dive watch segment.
Phoibos Kraken – Build Quality
Like its predecessors, the Phoibos Kraken has remarkable specifications for its price.
Firstly, the Kraken uses a double-domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to its 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 unwanted reflections on the Kraken. And as its name suggests, it’s a bona fide dive watch with 300m of water resistance, which is made possible in part due to its screw-down crown and caseback.
Beating inside the Kraken is the Miyota 9015 movement, which is a substantial upgrade from the usual Seiko NH35s that power Phoibos’ watches. A more affordable alternative to the ETA 2824, it beats at the same 4Hz frequency as its Swiss counterpart, which translates to a smoother sweep of the second hand. It also features 42 hours of power reserve, 24 Jewels, and hacking seconds. If you would like to know more about the movement, A Blog to Watch did an in-depth article about the Miyota 9000 series here.
The metal bracelet of the Kraken is well-milled and robust. It feels sturdy, and is very comfortable to wear. It’s also aesthetically striking – the centre links are fashioned to resemble scales. There’s not much in terms of contrasting finishing, though the buckle does display nice satin-brushing as well as chamfering on the edges. The push-button deployant buckle also snaps securely in place with a reassuring click.
The bracelet features a diver’s extension, which will definitely come in handy if you’re wearing the watch over a wet suit. I’m sure 99% of its wearers (me included) would never dive with it on, but it’s a nice touch for the 1% that might.
The lume is impressive too – 15 layers of C3 and BGW9 SuperLuminova. It glows like a torch in the dark, so you won’t have to worry about telling the time at night.
All in all, the Kraken packs a lot of specs for its ~US$400 price tag. It has a double-domed sapphire crystal (with triple AR coating), a Miyota 9015 movement (which is used in significantly more expensive watches), a well-made, striking bracelet that has a diver’s extensions, and one of the brightest lume I’ve personally encountered. What more could you ask for?
Phoibos Kraken – Design
While not particularly innovative in its design, the Kraken has enough going for it to warrant a second glance.
The main intrigue lies in the Kraken’s champagne dial – a rare colour in the affordable dive watch segment. It’s executed well, and reminds me of the copper dial of my personal Longines Heritage 1945. The dial has a slight radial pattern too, giving it some texture. I love how Phoibos has taken the extra effort to opt for a champagne date wheel, allowing it to blend more seamlessly with the rest of the dial. The date wheel also features alternating colours (red and white), adding a whimsical touch to the dial. Elsewhere, the wide indices and hands are quintessentially Phoibos, and feel appropriate given the monstrous name of the watch.
In contrast, the Seiko-esque stainless steel bezel feels more derivative in its design, though I suppose it could also be viewed as reassuringly familiar. Like the dial, the 120-click unidirectional bezel is brushed for added texture, with its red tip complementing the red tip of the seconds hand. The red adds a pop of sporty colour to the watch. I also found the bezel to be robustly made, easy to rotate, and with little to no play. Very well done.
Like the bezel and dial, the case of the Kraken is mostly brushed, save for some polished chamfering at the edges. The case finishing isn’t particularly impressive – understandable, given the price point – though I did like the voluptuous nature of the lugs.
It took some time, but the scale-like bracelet eventually grew on me. In a segment where most of its competitors simply opt for an Oyster-esque bracelet, I like that it was simply different. There’s a slight vintage funkiness to the design that makes it eminently interesting.
Less different is the caseback, which features a simple motif of the mythical Kraken devouring a cargo ship.
Despite being a serious dive watch, the Kraken is actually pretty wearable. With a 41mm case diameter and 50mm lug-to-lug length, the Kraken wears smaller than I anticipated, to the point where I even found myself pairing it with formalwear. That’s also due to its relative slimness of 11.3mm – the Kraken was able to slide under a shirt cuff, albeit just about.
Overall, the Kraken is aesthetically different enough to separate it from the myriad of affordable dive watches in the market, and also wears very well. What more could one ask for?
Shootout – Phoibos Kraken vs Borealis Cascais V2
If you’re in the market for a fairly affordable, yet serious dive watch from a microbrand, one of the top alternatives would be the Borealis Cascais V2.
In terms of specifications, the Phoibos Kraken and the Borealis Cascais V2 are pretty much identical. Both watches use double-domed sapphire crystals, a Miyota 9015 movement, have 300 metres of water resistance, and feature Swiss Superluminova.
From an aesthetic standpoint, my preference would be the Kraken. The champagne dial is eminently striking, and the date window is better integrated as compared to the Cascais V2. I’m also not a fan of the Cascais’ tapisserie texture. I think it looks out of place on a dive watch, especially with the Submariner-esque indices. However, that’s my personal opinion – it’s not my cup of tea, but it may very well be yours.
What’s undeniable is that the Phoibos Kraken is simply the better value proposition. Despite having identical specifications, the Borealis Cascais V2 is 35% more expensive – that’s just too much. As such, the Kraken emerges as the winner of this shootout.
Conclusion – so is the Phoibos Kraken “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. In fact, I would say that the Kraken is Phoibos’ best dive watch to date. Despite its affordable price tag, it features premium specifications (double-domed sapphire crystal, Miyota 9015 movement, Swiss Superluminova, etc) and is a bona fide dive watch with its diver’s extension bracelet. The textured champagne dial is visually arresting too, as is the scale-esque bracelet design. It’s also very comfortable on the wrist – Phoibos says “lots of improvements have been made to further enhance the wearing comfort” – with surprisingly restrained dimensions. If you’re in the market for an affordable dive watch, the Phoibos Kraken is undoubtedly one of the best options at the sub-US$500 price point.
Those interested in purchasing the Kraken can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Phoibos’ web-store. After the promo code, the Kraken would cost only US$405/~S$550, making it great bang-for-buck.
Dial: Sunray Champagne
Caliber No.: Miyota 9015
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Band: 22mm 316L Stainless Steel
Clasp: Three-fold clasp with push button release and dive extension
Glass: Double Dome Sapphire Crystal with 3 layers anti reflective under coating
Water resistance: 300M
Case size: 41mmX50mm (Bezel 42mm)
Bezel: 120-click unidirectional stainless steel bezel
Crown: Screw-Down Crown
Lume: 15 layers Super-LumiNova BGW9 and C3 on hands and indices; BGW9 lume pip at 12H on bezel
Warranty: 2 years
Origin: Made in Hong Kong
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.