KeepTheTime has been giving microbrands love since before the term microbrand watch was even a thing. We’re always working hard to introduce our audience to new watches, that’s why we’re excited to introduce you to Pharos and their debut model: The Sentinel.
If you are part of the Instagram #watchfam, then it’s likely that you have already seen one of these pieces popping up in your feed. After all, the brand was founded by a pair of watch enthusiasts that double as a lawyers and social media managers during the day. The watch was officially launched on Kickstarter today.
What Does Pharos Mean?
This new watch brand get its name and design inspiration from what is considered to be the first lighthouse in the world: Pharos of Alexandria.
The lume on the dial and crown is meant to reflect the signal of a lighthouse, and there is an engraving of a lighthouse on the caseback, but we couldn’t help but pick up on some other interesting symbolism…
An interesting coincidence is that the logo on the dial actually resembles a pyramid, and if you hear the name without seeing the spelling, it sounds like Pharaohs.
Our namesake, the Pharos of Alexandria, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and our watches pay homage to that legacy. Our full lume dials shine bright at all times of night like the lighthouses we modeled our watches after.
Sentinel Full Lume VS Senintel B
Pharos is launching with 2 models to start. The Sentinel Full Lume and the Sentinel B.
The full lume model will come in either a steel or PVD finished case, as well as with 3 options for dial color: white, blue or green.
The Sentinel B is more of a conservative or dressier timepiece. It trades the full lume face for an attractive sunburst dial. Sticking with the theme of Pharos being a lighthouse inspired watch, the B model still has an incredible lume design, but it’s been toned down from the full dial to a pattern along the perimeter of the dial. It will come in a steel case and the choice of two dial colors: blue or green.
Although these two models have the same case, the dial design truly separates them. Unlike many watches on Kickstarter, the Pharos launch is one that we could see collectors actually taking advantage of the combo deals because they would be getting two contrasting pieces. This is especially true if you go for the Sentinel Full Lume in PVD and the Sentinel B in steel
What Makes It Tick?
As you can see, the prototype package KeepTheTime received for review included one of each model. To be honest, when Pharos mentioned the entry price for the Sentinel, we expected one of the beasts of the East to be humming along inside – a Miyota 8215 or Seiko NH35A, which is common in the microbrand watch scene. When we opened the hoods to inspect the engines, what we found was an ETA 2824-2 in one and a Sellita SW200-1 in the other.
Not only are they going full Swiss for the movements, but they configured one of each movement to test before making a decision. This isn’t common for the start-up watch scene, since many brands default to the where best and less meets on the bell curve, resulting in one of the aforementioned Japan-made calibers being used.
It turns out that their conclusion is in line with most of what we’ve been hearing from the market: The Sellita SW200-1 is a better choice than the ETA 2824-2. Some think it’s the extra jewel (26 vs 25), others think any dealings with ETA is a mistake after their threats to stop selling movements and parts. But ultimately, it comes down to accuracy, and the Sellita seems to come out on top when put to the timing machine test.
With new watches popping up every day, there’s something to be said about unique design. Pharos put together a timepiece that stands out from the crowd – like a lighthouse shining it’s beacon in the distant horizon.
The case is constructed out of 316L stainless steel. It spans 41mm in diameter across the wrist. Including the crown takes it to about 44.5mm, with a lug-to-lug of 48mm. It sits just over 12mm tall on the wrist – about the same as a Rolex sport model. The curved lugs and side cutouts on the case are what really sets it apart. Similar cutout or indentations can be found on the bezel.
The lug-width is a pretty standard 22mm and the watch comes with a leather strap and extra rubber strap. The included bands have quick release springbars built-in for easy swapping, but keep in mind that you will need to pick up a pair of extra springbars if you get an aftermarket strap.
While the handmade genuine leather straps aren’t the most impressive we’ve seen, the rubber straps are. We didn’t get our hands on the rubber, but from the photos on their Kickstarter page, the rubber looks really cool. The have a white stitching along the edges and a raised middle that resembles a padded leather band. Blue dial Full Lume model on a blue rubber strap with white stitching? Yes, please!
Most of the microbrands come on leather, rubber or nylon, but Pharos actually has a case fitting stainless steel bracelet available as well… for only $40 extra. This price is low and it’s almost certain that it will increase after the early bird specials are over.
The dial, whether on the Full Lume or the B model, is about 35mm. A sapphire crystal keeps your view into the face virtually scratch-free. Below the 6:00 markers is a declaration that the piece has a SWISS MOVT. We already talked about this above, but it’s interesting to note that it doesn’t say SWISS MADE. This indicates that aside from the mechanism, the rest of the watch is produced somewhere else – maybe somewhere more affordable to allow for the low price. However, they are designed and assembled in USA, and the case does look like it could possibly be 3D printed… if we learn more about this we’ll update this post.
Speaking of Swiss, Pharos went with Swiss Super-LumiNova for the lume on the dial and crown. They are offering a choice of blue or green.
That’s right, there is a lumed logo on the screw-down crown too! This isn’t the first time we have seen lume applied to parts outside of the dial (for example, Elliot Brown put lume on the clasp of the Canford), but it’s the first time we have seen a logo lumed on the crown. If you know of another brand that has done this, please mention it in the comments.
The caseback features an engraved lighthouse, along with the text: PHAROS / SWISS MOVT / SENTINEL / WR200M/660ft.
Everything about this overall design fits well together and makes sense, from the case to the bezel and the dial to the lume. It’s clear that thought was put into this timepiece and care was put into creating the list of specs that make it what it is.
Stretch goal is Kickstarter speak for if the project surpasses a certain amount (often greater than the original project goal) then the campaign creators will release another product or design.
Pharos set a stretch goal of $100,000 USD which will unlock a special black Sentinel B in PVD, with a black dial, on a PVD bracelet. It is a really nice looking piece!
The good news is that backers can always add this item later if the stretch goal gets surpassed. So, during the 30 day time span of the projects, it’s always a good idea to check back every so often to see the status.
How Much Is It?
There are 100 super early bird specials at $499. After those have been claimed, the price will be $539 until 150 backers scoop them up. Following that round, the price will be $589. The regular retail price when the watch is officially on the market is going to be $850 USD.
Will It Get Funded?
One of the hesitations watch collectors have about Kickstarter is that when the project doesn’t get funded, the watch doesn’t get made. It’s disappointing to obsess over a new timepiece and tell everyone about it, only to find out 30 days later that it was just $1,200 shy of reaching the goal.
The guys at Pharos have set their campaign goal at a very modest $35,000, and from what we’ve seen in the past, this attainable number (combined with the cool design) almost guarantees that they will be able to move forward with the project and begin producing the Sentinel.
UPDATE 1/22/19 3:30 PM EST: Within hours of posting this review and hours of the campaign page being live, Pharos has already cinched the amount of backers they need to push forward with this watch. They have already surpassed the goal and the first day isn’t even over yet. Congrats, Pharos!