Fellow watch nerds may recall the Phosphor e-ink digital watch I reviewed last year. It's an excellent implementation of a new display tech in a classic watch. Now, Phosphor is back with a new mechanical crystal watch, the Reveal. I've been wearing one for about a week now and I love it, mainly because it's a great conversation piece.
The tech behind it is deceptively simple. The face of the watch is bedazzled with a grid of Swarovski crystals. Certain of these crystals are on a magnetic pivot. When a charge is applied, the pivot flips, showing the underside of the mat the crystals live on, which is black. This negative space creates old-school clock digits, but it's totally mechanical, which is awesome.
Each time the digits change, there's a very satisfying "tick click tick" sound. The upper-right button hides the digits, making an effectively solid crystal face (see at left). The bottom button hides the hour and minute but brings up the seconds, which is an impressive way to show off how the watch works.
And that's something I found myself doing often. The crystals attract the attention of the people around you, followed closely by, "What the heck is that?" Then you look like a baller explaining how it works. It's very fun and easily worth the $200 retail price (you can get one at Phosphor's site).
Phosphor is calling the magnetic tech MD3, or Micro-Magnetic Digital. The fact that it has a name for the logic behind how the watch works means we're probably going to see more watches like this in the future. At least I hope we do. While the watch is fascinating and technically awesome, the Swarovskis are a little too bling to be my thing. That said, I was able to make it work with both a suit and a T-shirt. Flashy readout aside, it's a fashionable watch.
But that's me. I have more than one friend here in Seattle who is a little less conservative with their fashion. They all loved the watch, one actually wistfully drooling over the extra-bejeweled versions Phosphor also offers.
Again, this watch isn't for everyone. But if you like almost-steampunk-ish mechanical tech where digital would work just because it's awesome, and you don't mind looking a little flashy, then this is your watch. There really aren't any others like it. We're looking forward to what Phosphor has up its sleeve next (geddit!?)