Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’m reviewing the Eagle Ray from Phoibos.
The Eagle Ray is Phoibos’ priciest watch till date – does it justify the price tag? Let’s find out.
Phoibos – the Brand
Phoibos was founded in 2016 by the Chinese couple of Ethan Guo and Emily Feng. Inspired by a trip to Greece they took, Ethan and Emily named their watch brand after ancient Greek mythology. Phoibos is the alternative name to Apollo, the Greek God of Sun and Light. Translated, Phoibos means “Bright, Shining, One” – quite an optimistic and positive name for a watch microbrand!
When Phoibos first started, they were the epitome of a Chinese microbrand – they made cheap ($99 USD) Submariner homages, which flew off the shelves. They continued selling (albeit well-built) affordable homages, but were upfront that their designs were inspired from luxury icons. Things changed this year, when Phoibos announced that they will begin to release original designs, with the design philosophy being “a tool watch that still looks classy”. They started off with the Reef Master, which has been well-received by other reviewers, most of whom stated that it was a decent value proposition. Thereafter, Phoibos released the Eagle Ray – undoubtedly their “best” watch till date in terms of design originality and specifications, but also unsurprisingly their most expensive offering by far. This really split opinions – some felt that it was a step in the right direction for the brand, while others felt that Phoibos was overstepping their capabilities and alienating their past customers. I think time will tell whether Phoibos made the right decision – for now, all I can, and will do, is to comment on whether the Eagle Ray is a good watch for the price. Let’s get into it.
Phiobos Eagle Ray – Build Quality
As aforementioned, there is no doubt that the Eagle Ray is Phiobos’ best built watch thus far.
Firstly, the Eagle Ray utilizes a 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 here is also AR-coated, preventing potential nasty reflections from occurring. In addition, the WR rating for the Eagle Ray is stated at 300M, which means that you can actually bring this out diving if you wish! The case for the Eagle Ray is standard 316L Stainless Steel, nothing special there. What is special is the sapphire bezel, which means that you won’t have to worry about scratching the bezel!
The Eagle Ray is powered by the respectable Miyota 9015 movement, which in my opinion is probably the best bang-for-buck movement out there. Being generally seen as a more affordable alternative to the ETA 2824. It has a high beat rate of 4Hz (same as the ETA 2824), 42 hours of hour reserve, 24 Jewels, and features hacking seconds. The high beat rate translates to a smoother sweep of the second hand, which is a treat to the eye. 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 strap that came on the Eagle Ray is decent – par for the course for a ~$500 SGD watch. The strap is only of genuine leather quality, but the lining is supple and comfortable on the wrist and the strap loop is stitched. That being said, genuine leather is the lowest quality tier of leather generally used for straps, and thus the strap will not develop patina the way top-grain or full-grain leather will. However, I do find the cross graining of the strap (pictured above) unique – it certainly adds a dollop of character to the Eagle Ray. In addition, Phoibos includes a tropic rubber strap as well, in case you do want to bring the Eagle Ray out to the pool or the beach.
Phoibos states that 15 layers of Swiss Super-Luminova BGW9 is applied on the hands, indices, and bezel markings of the Eagle Ray, and it shows. The Eagle Ray gleam in the dark, and by far possesses the best lume of all Phoibos watches till date.
Overall, it is clear that with the Eagle Ray, Phoibos has stepped it up a notch in terms of build quality. Doubled-domed sapphire, 300M WR, high-beat Miyota 9015, and strong lume can all be found on the Eagle Ray. If I have a knock, it would be the genuine leather strap, which is rather average. That being said, it must be noted that Phoibos provides an additional tropic rubber strap, so one can’t really complain especially considering the price of this watch!
Phoibos Eagle Ray – Design
Again, I have to say that the Eagle Ray is not only the most original Phoibos design thus far, it is probably the most interesting one as well!
Firstly, the Eagle Ray possesses a beautiful blue fume dial, which I personally think is the attractive dial Phoibos has put out till date. It’s intriguing, and I like the fade to black at the edges of the dial – it complements the black of the sapphire bezel well. It’s no H. Moser & Cie, but it does look more expensive than it’s $359 USD price tag might suggest. In addition, the use of applied indices helps adds depth to the dial. Elsewhere, I like that Phoibos decided upon a black date wheel – it makes the date wheel less conspicuous, and gels well with the overall black/blue colour scheme of the dial. Lastly, the use of syringe hands and ball-end second hand adds a touch of vintage aesthetic to the watch, which I appreciate.
Secondly, I’m quite impressed by the level of finishing demonstrated in the Eagle Ray. The edges of the case are bevelled and polished (see picture above), whilst the main body is brushed. Again, the watch feels more expensive than it actually is. In addition, I really like the jagged edges of the bezel – it is visually reminiscent of a turbine! Furthermore, the edges of the bezel provide fantastic grip, allowing one to rotate the bezel with ease. I was glad to see that the jagged edges of the bezel were beveled and smoothed out in order to prevent wearers from accidentally cutting themselves – a detail not every brand pays attention to. I also love the curved lugs of the Eagle Ray, which reminds me of the lugs of the Seiko SKX.
We also get a nicely signed crown on the Eagle Ray, engraved with some sort of spiral pattern. The crown is nicely sized, making the winding of the watch an ease. In addition, I like the matte finish of the crown – it contrasts nicely against the brushed finish of the case as well as the polished edges above and beneath it.
The caseback of the Eagle Ray is unfortunately, rather pedestrian. It features an artwork depicting Phoibos’ logo (An octopus), as well as some relevant specifications. There’s nothing much wrong with the caseback, but it is definitely not mind-blowing.
Overall, I think the Eagle Ray represents Phoibos’ greatest design feat thus far. I must applaud Phoibos for challenging themselves to break out of their comfort zone of making affordable watches. The Eagle Ray exemplifies their efforts, and it’s not bad at all!
Shootout: Phoibos Eagle Ray vs Helson Skindiver
I’ve chosen to pair the Phoibos Eagle Ray with the Helson Skindiver in today’s shootout as both are vintage inspired divers with similar specifications.
In terms of build quality, both watches are dead even! Both watches shares a list of specs: domed sapphire crystal, 300M WR, the Miyota 9015 movement, strong Super-Luminova lume, and a sapphire bezel. There’s really not much separating the two here.
From an aesthetic perspective, I personally prefer the originality (and that’s not a word commonly associated with Phoibos) of the Eagle Ray over the Skindiver. The Skindiver’s vintage inspired design is nice, but it’s just not very distinctive. In contrast, I find the blue fume dial of the Eagle Ray striking and unique. Furthermore, there’s depth and contrast present in the Phoibos through it’s use of applied indices and differing finishing techniques – the same cannot be said for the Helson, whose dial is rather flat, with a simple brushed finishing on the case. Lastly, I think the date window is better incorporated on the Eagle Ray, whereas on the Skindiver it breaks the symmetry of the dial and looks out of place.
Where the Phoibos Eagle Ray has the Helson Skindiver thoroughly trounced is in its value. At $359 USD, it’s almost half the price of the Skindiver! For half the price, the Phoibos Eagle Ray features almost identical specifications as the Helson Skindiver, and possesses a more intriguing design to boot. As such, I have to declare the Phoibos Eagle Ray the winner of this shootout.
Conclusion: so the Phoibos Eagle Ray “shiok” or not?
Definitely, if you’re on the lookout for an affordable diver. It has great specs for its price tag, and its build quality can rival, if not match, watches double its price point. Furthermore, the design of the Eagle Ray is by far the most original, and well-thought out from Phoibos till date. I don’t really have any major issues with the watch – the strap could be better, and the caseback could be more interesting, but that’s about it. The greatest stumbling block to the Eagle Ray’s success is probably the brand, or to elaborate, the brand image of Phoibos which has long been associated with cheap, Chinese homages. In my opinion, the Eagle Ray is definitely a step in the right direction, but only time will tell if it is compelling enough to change public perception about the brand.
In my opinion, the Eagle Ray is Phoibos’ best watch till date, and makes for a very strong value proposition with its sub-$500 SGD price tag. 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! It’s rare to see such level of after-sale service from a microbrand, and perhaps speaks to the length Phoibos goes to assuage customer’s fears of Chinese unreliability.
For those interested, you can buy the Phoibos Eagle Ray here.
Dial: Domed Dial ； Glossy Blue to Black
Caliber No.: MIYOTA 9015
Case:316L Stainless steel
Band:Genuine leather strap 20mm width
One tropical rubber strap free
Glass:Double Domed Sapphire crystal with 3 layers anti reflective under coating
Water resistance: 300M(1000ft)
Case size: 41mmX 47mm thickness 13.2mm
Bezel:120-click unidirectional ceramic bezel
Lume:15 layers Super-LumiNova BGW9 on hands, indices and bezel marking
Warranty: 2 year
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