Review: Phosphor's E-Ink World Time Watch

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Short version: A low-maintenance, good-looking gimmick watch, but e-ink gives the watch weaknesses as well as an interesting look. Recommended if you think you can pull it off.

Features:

  • Dual-timezone E-ink display
  • Rubber or steel band
  • Several face styles
  • MSRP: $165

Pros:

  • Good-looking, not too sci-fi
  • Comfortable
  • Showing two timezones can be handy

Cons:

  • No backlight; illegible in the dark
  • Not suitable for formal occasions

Full review:

I’m not a big fan of gimmick watches. While I love that guys like Tokyoflash are pushing design forward when it comes to wrist wear, I worry that much of their work is too esoteric and could alienate some potential watch nerds with their complexity. The biggest problem, I feel, is that on the low end the watch world is separated, like computer RPGs, into two two camps – the Tolkein-esque “fancy watch” (think Fossil watches that look like they’re from the 1930s) and the Final Fantasy-esque “tech watch.” Luckily, the Phosphor E-Ink World Time straddles the line quite nicely and, as a result, will please almost any watch lover.

The Phosphor E-Ink World Time is a $165 time piece that uses an E-Ink screen to show two timezones simultaneously. The watch, in all modes, is amazingly easy to read and comfortable to wear. It has multiple “face” styles including time only, time/date, and a face that shows one foreign time along with local time. You set the face style by pressing right side of the single button on the face and you set your current country by tapping the left side of the button. You can reverse the type by holding down the left part of the button, creating a black background with white letters. You set the time and date by holding down the right side of the main button.

There is no back-light, a huge issue with watches like these. It is almost useless at night, which makes me sad, but presumably that’s the price you pay for e-ink.

Barring that one complaint, however, generally this is a very low maintenance, set-it-and-forget it watch. You can wear it with jeans – it might be too Star Trek for a suit – and it’s quite large and handsome without looking like a pie plate on your wrist. Phosphor has a unique curved case style that, if you know anything about watchmaking, is amazing and even if you don’t it adds quite a bit of comfort. The rubber band is comfortable as well but I usually recommend getting a steel band if only to prevent eventual cracking.

For $165 the E-Ink World Time is a great timepiece and it definitely doesn’t look like a dork watch. It’s legible, usable, and very cool – it’s a definite conversation starter, even if you won’t enjoy the conversation it starts.

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