Spectre Time first burst into the microbrand scene with their popular maiden watch effort, the Phantom. The Genta-esque Phantom proved popular amongst watch enthusiasts – let’s see how the successor fares!
Spectre Time – the Brand
Spectre Time is a Singaporean microbrand that was founded in 2015 by Gulshan. Back then, Gulshan was working as a flight attendant. After saving up some of that sizable salary, he decided to invest it in an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – his first Swiss luxury wristwatch. Inspired by the purchase, he decided to take his horological passion a step further by designing, prototyping and designing his own timepiece, a piece unique just for personal enjoyment. After getting numerous compliments – and purchase requests – on the wristwatch he was wearing onboard flights, Gulshan eventually decided to put the watch (which became the aforementioned Spectre Time Phantom) into mass production and start his own watch label – Spectre Time.
Gulshan also owns and operate another watch label, Velthor. I’ve actually reviewed the Velthor S1 Concept here! Unfortunately, that watch never really did take off, with the Spectre Time brand vastly overshadowing it in its popularity. Nevertheless, I think the fact that Gulshan founded not one, but two watch brands is an admirable feat, and is testament to his passion for watches.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the review!
Spectre Time Phantom II – Build Quality
I’ve handled the original Phantom before, and I have to say – the Phantom II improves upon its predecessor in every regard.
Firstly, the Spectre Time Phantom II utilises 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. Furthermore, there’s also an internal AR coating on the underside of the sapphire crystal to prevent the bulk of nasty reflections! In addition, the WR rating for the Phantom II is stated at 100M, which means that you can pretty much wear the watch for most daily activities except those that involves prolonged submersion in water. Given that the Phantom II is billed as a sports watch, the 100M WR rating is certainly welcomed!
While the original Phantom used the rather pedestrian Miyota 8215 movement, the Phantom II features a major upgrade by utilising the Swiss STP 1-11 movement. For those unacquainted with the movement, the STP1-11 is a relatively new automatic movement from the Fossil Group, with self-winding and hacking mechanism, 44-hour power reserve, beats at a high 28,800 Hz frequency, and features Incabloc shock protection. The smooth sweep of the second hand (due to the movement’s high beat rate) makes for a pleasant sight! Furthermore, Gulshan shared with me that he always checks the accuracy of the movement before shipping his watches, ensuring that all customers get a wonderfully accurate watch. For those wondering, the exhibition caseback is made out of sapphire as well, with nice Geneva Stripes present on the rotor, along with blued screws. I have to say – I’m pretty impressed by the decoration on the movement! It’s certainly reminiscent of 4 figures Swiss watches, watches that are twice or even thrice of the Phantom II’s price.
My favourite aspect of the Phantom II is the wonderful bracelet. It’s a solidly built bracelet, and is a marked improvement over the bracelet of the original Phantom. I’m usually a leather guy, but the metal bracelet of the Phantom II is so well crafted, and so comfortable on the wrist! The clasp clicks satisfying into place, with the Spectre Time logo and branding etched elegantly on it. I love the polished bevelled edges on the sides of the bracelet as well – in terms of finishing, it reminds me of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon! Probably the best bracelet that I’ve handled (from a sub S$1000 microbrand watch) till date. I should also mention that Spectre Time includes a screwdriver in the package so that we can size the bracelet ourselves! It’s the details that matter, and so far Spectre Time has been excelling at them.
The Phantom II also comes with an additional leather strap, but I wouldn’t bother with it. Firstly, the quality of the leather strap isn’t very good – it’s only “Genuine Leather” (the lowest quality tier for leather), and the inner lining feels cheap and cardboardy. The embossed crocodile pattern looks lacklustre as well. As compared to the outstanding metal bracelet, the supplied leather strap is a disappointment, akin to something I might find on a Daniel Wellington watch. Stick to the metal bracelet – the Phantom II looks infinitely better on the bracelet anyway!
Whilst the original Phantom used generic “Asian lume”, the Phantom II steps it up a notch with the usage of Swiss Superluminova C1. In the dark, the lume is strong and long-lasting. Of course, it’s not as bright as the lume on dive watches (such as the Neminus I reviewed last week) but as far as sports watches go, it’s pretty good. I also love the fact that Spectre Time (rather cheekily) lumed its logo as well! Another score in my books.
Overall, the build quality of the Spectre Time Phantom II is brilliant, and a marked improvement over its predecessor. We get sapphire crystal with AR coating, a high-beat Swiss STP 1-11 movement, a superb metal bracelet, and bright Swiss Superluminova C1. The only downside is the middling leather strap, but as long as you wear the Phantom II on the metal bracelet, you’ll be right as rain.
Spectre Time Phantom II – Design
Whilst undeniably influenced by Genta, the Spectre Time Phantom II comes across as familiar but not derivative.
Let’s start with the dial. The sunburst blue dial of the Phantom II is simple, but it revels in its simplicity. Blue has always been my favourite dial colour, and when I saw the sunburst blue dial it simply stole my heart. It plays wonderfully with different lighting, and is stunningly striking on the wrist. In addition, the dial also features applied indices for some depth. The indices are shaped rather interestingly, reminding me personally of a bullet. The trapezoidal shape of the date window is intriguing as well, and I’m so happy they went with a black date wheel here, instead of a white one like most microbrands do!
The most contentious aspect of the Spectre Time Phantom II is likely its bezel, which features decorative screws. Of course, when a watch enthusiast see screws on a bezel, one invariably think of the iconic AP Royal Oak line. I can definitely see the APRO influence here, which is unsurprising considering the fact that it was an APRO that spurred Gulshan to develop the first prototype of the original Phantom! However, I personally don’t find it too derivative, due to one key difference. The iconic bezel of the Royal Oak line is octagonal – the bezel on the Phantom II is circular. I think this is extremely smart, as it avoids the pitfall of becoming a mere “homage” to a coveted luxury watch. Furthermore, the finishing on the bezel is top notch! Firstly, the screws of the bezel are aligned, indicating to me that they were probably hand-set. Secondly, I love the juxtaposition of the satin brushed finishing of the bezel and the polished beveled edges. Great attention to detail here!
The high quality finishing extends to the case as well. The lugs also features polished beveled edges, and with the polished finishing extending downwards to the bracelet. Elsewhere, the screw-down crown is substantially sized for easy hand-winding, and is nicely signed with the Spectre Time logo etched. Look at the level of finishing of the crown – it looks like a crown of a 4 figure watch!
The screwed-down caseback of the Spectre Time Phantom II is well executed too! Nicely brushed finished, the caseback features several relevant information etched on the sides. However, the main draw of the caseback has to be the sapphire exhibition caseback, through which one can admire the beautifully decorated Swiss movement. I’m genuinely impressed by the level of decoration here – one gets a signed rotor, Geneva Stripes, perlage finishing, as well as blued screws. As aforementioned earlier, the movement decoration reminds me of 4 figure watches from mid-level Swiss luxury brands (Longines, Maurice Lacroix, Oris, Frederique Constant, etc) – kudos to Spectre Time for punching above their weight here!
I’ve 7 inch wrists, and the 39mm Spectre Time Phantom II (48.5mm lug to lug) sits perfectly on it. At 11.5mm thick, the Phantom II is a svelte timepiece that (in my experience) slid under a shirt cuff nicely. For me, Spectre Time nailed the dimensions of the Phantom II!
All in all, I appreciate the clean looks of the Phantom II. It’s sleek, and while it draws inspiration from haute horology pieces, it retains its own character through several smart design elements. In my opinion, the Phantom II fits the bill of a sports watch not only in its look, but also in how it wears!
Shootout – Spectre Time Phantom II vs D1 Milano Automatic
Despite the raging popularity of sports watches such as the Patek Phillipe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, there are surprisingly few microbrands making sports watches – most seem intent to constantly churn out divers. The closest I could find for ~$600 USD/S$800 was the D1 Milano Automatic.
In terms of build quality, the Spectre Time Phantom II trounces the D1 Milano Automatic. The Phantom II features sapphire crystal (with AR coating), a high beat Swiss STP 1-11 movement, and comes with Swiss C1 Superluminova. In contrast, the D1 Milano Automatic uses mineral crystal, a pedestrian Miyota 8215 movement, and does not come with lume. In every aspect, the Phantom II comes up top with the better specifications.
From an aesthetics standpoint, I would say that the Phantom II edges out the D1 Milano Automatic as well. The sunburst dial of the Phantom II is much more alluring that the matte black dial of the D1 Milano, and the applied indices come across as better defined too. Furthermore, I find the screws on round bezel of the Phantom II a more original and fresh design that the Nautilus-like bezel of the D1 Milano. Lastly, the finishing on the Phantom II is markedly better than the D1 Milano to boot!
Given that the Spectre Time Phantom II can actually be had for less than the D1 Milano, I have to declare the Phantom II as the winner of this shootout!
Conclusion – so the Spectre Time Phantom II “shiok” or not?
Definitely. It’s superbly built, with great specifications – the Phantom II features sapphire crystal (with AR coating), a Swiss STP 1-11 movement, a brilliant bracelet, and Swiss C1 Superluminova! The design is striking too, reminiscent of the iconic luxury Swiss sports watches but remaining original and fresh at the same time. Overall, I think the Spectre Time Phantom II fits a nice niche between ultra affordable – but also directly derivative – Parnis watches and more expensive Swiss options such as the Maurice Lacroix Aikon.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant readers S$100 off the Phantom II from Spectre Time! After the promo code, the Phantom II can be had for just S$765. If you’re looking for a sub-S$1000 sports watch, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Spectre Time Phantom II should be near the top of your list!
View the entire Spectre Time Collection here.
- Material: 316L stainless steel
- Diameter: 39mm
- Thickness: 11.5mm including glass and caseback
- Lug-to-Lug: 48.5mm
- Crystal: Sapphire, glareproofed
- Caseback: Transparent, in glareproofed sapphire crystal
- Water Resistance: 10ATM (100 Meters/330 Feet)
- Weight: 168-grams with bracelet
- Reference: STP1-11, Swiss Made
- Power Reserve: 44 hours
- Frequency: 28’800 vph (4 Hz)
- Functions: Automatic self-winding
Rapid date corrector
- Stainless Steel Bracelet: 23mm-18mm with double folding butterfly clasp
- Genuine Leather: 23mm-20mm with double folding butterfly clasp
- Fits: 5.5 to 8 inch wrists
- Screw-down crown
- Super-LumiNova® “C1” hands & indices
- Date at 6:00
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!