Hello everyone, and welcome to another of my reviews. In this article, I’ll be reviewing the new Vortex from Hong Kong watch brand, Phoibos.

After churning out dive watch after dive watch over the past few years, Phoibos has unveiled its most “serious” dive watch to date – the Vortex. Let’s see if it’s any good.

Phoibos Vortex – Video Review

For those who wish to see some hands-on footage of the Phoibos Vortex, 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, the Apollo here, the Kraken here, and most recently the Narwhal here. I’ve been generally impressed with the dive watches from Phoibos – they are some of the best offerings in the affordable dive watch segment.

Phoibos Vortex – Build Quality

The Vortex is undoubtedly the best-specced Phoibos to date.

Firstly, the Vortex uses a flat 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 six layers of anti-reflective coating, so you don’t have to worry about any unwanted reflections.

Being a dive supercompressor dive watch, the Vortex has a respectable 200m of water resistance, making it feasible for prolonged submersions in water. However, I’ll still deem it more as a desk diver rather than a true dive watch – the fact that it comes on a leather strap (instead of a bracelet or even a silicone strap) belies its true nature.

The real upgrade is in the movement – Phoibos has ditched the pedestrian Japanese Seiko/Miyota offerings for a more premium Swiss Sellita SW200-1. For those unfamiliar with watch movements, the Sellita SW200 is basically an ETA 2824 clone, with some small improvements. Several well-established luxury brands such as Oris, Montblanc, and even IWC use Sellita SW200 base movements in their watches. For more information regarding the Sellita SW200 VS ETA 2824 debate, Watch Flipr has an article here. Some basic specs: the Sellita SW200 beats at 4Hz per hour (contributing to the smooth sweep of the second hand), has 38 hours of power reserve, 26 Jewels, and is hacking with a quick date function. Phoibos states that the watch undergoes “accuracy regulation”, and in my personal experience, the Vortex keeps time relatively well. This can partially be attributed to the implementation of an anti-magnetic shield around the Sellita movement (up to 20,000 ampere per meter), which prevents magnetic interference from affecting the watch’s timekeeping accuracy.

The Vortex comes default on a genuine leather strap which the brand claims is “waterproof”, though I haven’t tested it out in the water. As a leather strap, it’s generally alright – the leather grains can be seen, and it’s soft and comfortable enough on the wrist. However, it’s not a full-grain or even a top-grain strap, so it won’t patina over time. The stitching is clearly done by machine too, instead of being hand-stitched.

Phoibos watches are known for their strong lume, and the Vortex is no exception. 15 layers of Swiss Superluminova C1 and BGW9 are applied on the indices, while solely BGW9 is applied on the hands and bezel markings. As a result, the dial shines bright like a diamond – you will find no trouble reading the watch in the dark.

All in all, the Phoibos Vortex has great specifications. It has a sapphire crystal, a respectable 200m of water resistance, a Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement, and strong Superluminova. The only knock is the rather average leather strap, though third-party options can easily remedy that.

Phoibos Vortex – Design

While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the Phoibos Vortex does possess several interesting traits.

The most eye-catching aspect of this particular Vortex is definitely its mint green dial. Green dials are in vogue, but mint green dials are decidedly rarer, especially on dive watches – in fact, the only other one that comes to mind is the Traska Freediver. It’s a refreshing change from the black/grey/navy dials that are commonly found on dive watches, and immediately seizes one’s attention. Adding further colour is the orange seconds hand, though it is a tad too short in my opinion. I do like the skeletonised plongeur hands however, which gives the dial a semblance of depth.

The Vortex is a supercompressor, which means that there’s an additional crown at 2 o’clock that adjusts the internal rotating bezel. It’s a design that’s gaining popularity, which should bode well for the demand for the Vortex. I like the embossed grooves on the minute track too, which – together with the sandblasted recessed centre portion of the dial – adds textural appeal to the Vortex.

The bezel also features “portholes’, which reminds me of the old Hublot MDM watches. The diving reference is a bit on the nose, but subtlety has never been Phoibos’ strength so I’ll let it slide. I do like the twill gorges on the case sides though – it adds texture to the Vortex, making it live up to its name.

The rear is a fairly simple affair, comprising a screwed-on caseback that’s engraved with the brand name. It’s a tad underwhelming – I would have expected a simple motif, like some of the brand’s previous watches.

I was pleasantly surprised by the wearability of the Vortex. Despite being 43.5mm wide, the Vortex wears small on my 7-inch wrist as a result of its lugless design. It’s a tad thick at 13mm, but that’s still well within the usual ballpark for dive watches.

Overall, the Vortex has an intriguing design (striking dial colour, as well as depth and texture) that makes it stand out from the brand’s crowded catalogue of dive watches.

Shootout: Phoibos Vortex vs Helson Porthole

If you’re looking for an affordable, round porthole-inspired dive watch, then a microbrand alternative would be the Helson Porthole.

In terms of specifications, the Phoibos Vortex edges out the Helson Porthole due to its movement – the Vortex is powered by the Swiss Sellita SW200-1 (with anti-magnetic protection), while the Porthole uses the prosaic Miyota 9039. The Porthole does have a higher water-resistance rating, but that is unlikely to have an impact on everyday wear unless you’re planning on deep dives.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, the Vortex provides much more visual interest than the Porthole. The Helson has a mere black dial – no textures, colours, or depth at all. In contrast, the Vortex has a unique colourway, differing texture, and a layered dial. It’s clearly the more visually arresting of the two.

Given that the Vortex is actually slightly cheaper as compared to the Porthole, it emerges as the clear winner in this shootout.

Conclusion – so the Phoibos Vortex “shiok” or not?

The Phoibos Vortex ticks every box. It has strong specifications – sapphire crystal, 200m WR rating, Swiss Sellita SW200-1 with anti-magnetic protection, 15 layers of dual Swiss Superluminova – and an arresting design that sets it apart from the myriad of well-specced but plain Jane dive watches in the market. At US$539/~S$710, it’s also one of the more affordable Sellita/ETA-powered dive watches available.

Those interested in purchasing the Vortex – or any other Phoibos watch – can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from Phoibos’ web-store. After the promo code, the Vortex can be had for only US$539/~S$710, making it a solid value proposition.

View the Phoibos Vortex collection here.
View the full range of Phoibos’ offerings here.



Dial: Two layers dial

Upper Dial: Matte black sandblast dial with embossed rings

Lower Dial: Matte green grainy dial with thick printed logo and words

Caliber No.: Swiss-made SELLITA SW200-1 with accuracy regulation

Case: 316L stainless steel and hidden lugs design

Case Size: Diameter 43.5mm, thickness 13mm

Band: 22mm black waterproof genuine leather strap; One free exclusively customized rubber strap with logo

Glass: Flat sapphire crystal with 6 layers anti-reflective coating inside

Water Resistance: 200M (20ATM)

Bezel: Bidirectional rotating inner bezel

Crown: Dual screw-down crowns respectively at 2H (turning inner bezel) and at 4H (winding/setting time)

Lume: 15 layers Grade-A Super-LumiNova C1&BGW9 on indices, BGW9 on hands and bezel markings

Warranty: 2 years

Origin: Made in Hong Kong

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P.P.P.P.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.