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A Great Budget Diver. The Phoibos Voyager 3

457 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Timeonmyhands
OK, there are numerous budget divers on the market, and I have bought and sold many. However, you get to a point when you believe there is a good chance you may own the best one, but of course this is subjective. I often hear the Orient Kamasu mentioned, but after owning one for a while, believe me, this is better, much better.
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I have owned many Phoibos watches, a brand that is based like so many others in Singapore, and although the designs haven't always turned out to be to my long term taste, I have never had an issue with the quality and the finish of any of their watches. Also, the great thing is if you live in the UK there is no import duty to pay, because their European distribution centre is based in good old Blitey.
DIMENSIONS - Case 39mm, lug width 20mm, lug to lug 47mm, depth 14mm, weight once adjusted to my 17cm is 153 grams.
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The first thing that will strike you is this fantastic red fume dial, although there are several other choices for the less adventurous amongst you. It starts off with an almost black outer, transcending to a deep crimson. Painted in silver at the top of the watch is Octopus Kraken, a logo some hate, and some love. As long as it is kept to a reasonable size I am fine with it. At the 6.00 is a framed and colour coded date window, something you may not expect for a watch at this price. There is a minute track on the outside of the dial, whilst both the teardrop indices and sword hands are filled with a very generous application of BGW9. Like every Phoibos watch I have owned, the lume on this thing is fantastic, and will get you through the best part of a long night.
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The sapphire crystal is double domed and has an application of blue non reflective coating. As well as the bezel being lumed, it has a high gloss reflective ceramic insert. This bezel has no wobble, no back play, lines up perfectly, and the resistance is close to perfection. Using this bezel is an absolute pleasure, and it compares easily with watches costing considerably more.
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The crown is approximately 6mm, screws down to help the watch's 200m claimed water resistance, and is extremely well knurled. The engagement may not be quite as smooth as a Christopher Ward, but believe me it's close. Inside this beast is the good old NH35 automatic movement, which we all know is produced by Seiko. It is a great work horse that ticks away at 21,600 bpm, hacks, hand winds, and has a bi-directional rota. These are very reliable, and if regulated correctly can be reasonably accurate, although the the beat error isn't the best. The power isn't great either at 40 hours, but is still two hours longer than an ETA 2824. The great thing is about the caliber is that if it ever goes wrong replacing it is inexpensive and relatively simple.
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The case is nicely shaped, although the brushing is a tad "tooly". Phoibos chose to vertically brush the sides, which is something I have never liked much, however the brushing on the top of the lugs is excellent. The screw down case back is is deeply engraved with the Kraken, and has some information engraved around the sides. All in all the case is more than befitting for a watch at this price point.
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I may have left the best to last, the bracelet. I would describe it as being a cross between a jubilee and an engineer. It is very chunky, but also very comfortable. The centre links are polished, whilst the outer links and sides are brushed.Needless to say the end links are are solid, and they fit perfectly to the case without any play at all. For easy adjustments there are well engineered screw pins, but there are no quick release spring bars. The clasp is one of my favorites, although one extra micro adjustment wouldn't go amiss. It's all milled, signed, has double pushers, and the combination of brushing and polishing makes it look and feel expensive.
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So what will one of these gems cost you, well expect to pay in the region of £250 ($300), but there is nearly always a voucher code up for grabs, which will take at least 10% off of that. For a watch of this quality, with this spec, you will be hard pushed to do better. Yes, there are cheaper dive watches around with the same movement, but I would put the Voyager 3 up against any of them. If your really lucky, you may even pick up a good used one on eBay, but they rarely become available.
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In brief, if you are looking for a budget priced dive watch, or even something better than your average Aliexpress homage, give the Phoibos Voyager 3 a thought. Honestly, it really is hard to fault, and when your wearing it I can guarantee you that your going to think you are wearing something a lot more premium than the price suggests.
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Great review! I feel that in the past couple years the price to quality/feature gap has shrunk greatly! There was a time back lets say 2013 or so when $200 wasnt getting you much of anything quality wise Speaking mostly in the Micro Brand world. but now even the "mushroom brands" are beating the mainstream brands in the price to quality segment. I have at least 3 Chinese brand watches that can crush the mainstreams for what you get for the price. My Heimdallr, Seestern, and Steeldive have everything you would want, 200m, screwdown crown, killer lume, sapphire crystal, great bezel action and case finishing, and a Seiko automatic.. all for under 200. in the past that was a near impossible feat!
The smaller brands are showing us that you dont have to pay to have quality.
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