The Nebula is Phoibos’ latest dive watch, and its most dressy one to date. With slim proportions, a jubilee bracelet and sans diving bezel, the Nebula is markedly different from the brand’s previous offerings, most of which are bulky, serious dive watches. Let’s see if the Nebula is any good!
Phoibos Nebula – Video Review
If you’re interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the watch, do watch my Youtube review of the Phoibos Nebula below:
Phoibos – the Brand
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, and the Eagle Ray Compressor 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 Nebula – Build Quality
Like its predecessors, the Nebula possesses solid specifications for its price.
Firstly, the Phoibos Nebula uses a flat 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 on the Nebula. Despite being the “dressiest” Phoibos so far, the Nebula still features a water resistance rating of 150m – made possible due to its screw-down crown – so it should survive a trip to the pool with no issues.
Ticking inside the Nebula is the Miyota 9015, which is one of the best bang-for-buck movements out there. 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 Nebula comes on a jubilee-styled bracelet – an intriguing choice for a dive watch, though one that makes sense given its billing as Phoibos’ “dress” diver. It’s executed well, comfortable on the wrist, and the bracelet’s fold-over push-button deployant clasp is an ease to operate. Micro-adjustment is available too, and I had no issues getting a secure fit.
Lume has always been a strong suit of Phoibos’ watches, and the Nebula is no exception. The hands and sandwiched markers feature 15 layers of Superluminova Old Radium, while 15 layers of Superluminova BGW9 are applied on the dot indices. I was surprised to find even the date window lumed, which means that the wearer will be able to tell the date even in the dark – a detail that more watches should adopt.
All in all, the Phoibos Nebula has specifications that punch above its price point. There’s sapphire crystal, AR coating, a Miyota 9015 movement, a well-machined jubilee bracelet, and 15 layers of dual Superlumiova. Despite being a desk diver, it still has 150M of WR rating. In other words, it ticks every box, and does so at a sub-S$500 price point.
Phoibos Nebula – Design
The Nebula is no slouch in the design department either.
Green dials are the rage in 2021, and it’s easy to see why. Although the Nebula also comes in blue (as well as an intriguing brown), I find the green dial here to be more striking than its counterparts. It’s an interesting teal shade as well, not the gaudy vibrant green one often sees. In addition, the gradient effect – where the dial darkens towards the corners – is eminently captivating.
Up close, there’s a slight metallic brushed effect that’s executed very well. It adds intrigue to the dial, and it’s a texture that I’ve personally not seen on microbrand watches before. Under a macro lens, one can see that the details are rendered well, with no visible imperfections (misalignment, etc).
There’s also plenty of depth to the dial due to its sandwiched nature. I like the way the date window is framed too, which gives it a layered look.
Faux patina is a contentious topic – you either like it or you don’t. Regardless of which camp you’re in, I have to say that the faux patina is done well here. The framed indices are gold to match the faux patina, as are the Phoibos logo, the hands, and the minute track. Phoibos paid attention to details here, and it shows. For those that are not a fan of faux patina, you can check out the regular version of the Nebula here.
With a smooth bezel, jubilee bracelet, clear rehaut and no crown guards, the Nebula reminds me of the Rolex Datejust. That’s not a bad comparison, considering that the Nebula is meant to be Phoibos’ dressiest timepiece to date. In that regard, it certainly succeeded, although it’s still a long way from passing as a dress watch.
The Nebula features a closed caseback, adorned with a relief motif of Phoibos’ octopus logo. While simple, I appreciated the contrasting finishing present.
The dimensions of the Nebula are also notable, being the sveltest Phoibos dive watch thus far. The 40mm case hits the sweet spot on my 7-inch wrist, while the 11mm thinness (a feat made possible due to the usage of slim Miyota 9015 movement) slides under a shirt cuff easily. I’m a fan of the pared-back dimensions – if the popularity of watches like the Tudor Black Bay 58 is any indication, slimmer dive watches are here to stay.
Overall, I’m a fan of the Nebula’s design. The fume green dial is attractive, its sandwiched nature provides depth, and I even like the faux patina. Most of all, I love the reduced dimensions, which makes it a great everyday watch that’s versatile enough for a variety of situations.
Shootout – Phoibos Nebula vs Seiko 5 SBSA047
If you’re in the market for an affordable “dress” diver, the best alternative would probably be the new bezel-less Seiko 5 watches, commonly referred to by enthusiasts as the “dressKX”.
In terms of specifications, the Phoibos Nebula blows the Seiko 5 out of the water. The sapphire crystal, Miyota 9015 movement and Superluminova of the Nebula are all improvements over the Hardlex crystal, Seiko 4R36 movement, and Lumibrite of the Seiko 5 SBSA047. The Nebula even has a slightly higher WR rating of 150m, as compared to the 100m of the Seiko 5. There’s no doubt that the Nebula is the more robust watch.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the fight is much closer. There’s an iconic nature about the SBSA047 that makes it instantly identifiable as a Seiko – those syringe indices are unmistakable. However, I have to say that the gradient green sandwich dial of the Nebula possesses more texture and depth as compared to the Seiko. Ultimately, design is subjective – those with safer tastes would probably prefer the Seiko 5, while more adventurous ones should lean more towards the Nebula.
Given that both watches are similarly priced, I have to declare the Phoibos Nebula as the winner of this shootout as its specifications trump the Seiko 5 SBSA047 at every turn.
Conclusion – so the Phoibos Nebula “shiok” or not?
Long-time readers would know that my personal tastes veer towards dressier watches, so it’s no surprise that the Nebula is my favourite Phoibos watch so far. It has great specifications for the price (sapphire crystal with triple AR coating, Miyota 9015 movement, solid bracelet and strong Superluminova), as well as a striking design that is full of colour, texture and depth. It’s incredibly versatile as well, equally at home both when paired with a dress shirt (photo below) and in the pool. Phoibos has a winner on its hands, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nebula sells out quickly.
Those interested in purchasing the Nebula can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Phoibos’ web-store. After the promo code, the Phoibos Nebula would cost just US$351/~S$473, which I think is a great price for a well-built, attractive everyday watch.
Dial: Gradient vertical brush black – green sandwich dial
Caliber No.: Miyota 9015
Case: 316L Stainless steel
Band: 20mm 316L Stainless steel bracelet
Clasp: Three-fold clasp with push button release
Glass: Flat Sapphire crystal with 3 layers anti-reflective under coating
Water resistance: 150M(500ft)
Case size: 40mmX 46mm, 11mm thickness
Crown: Screw-Down crown
Lume: 15 layers Super-LumiNova Old Radium on hands and lower dial, 15 layers Super-LumiNova BGW9 on upper dial dots.
Warranty: 2 years
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.