If we were to compare JBW watches with some of the best-known brands in the watchmaking industry, one thing that’s easy to notice is their relatively short presence on the market.
In contrast to some of the well-established old hands such as Bulova, Seiko or Citizen, we could even go as far as saying that the brand, officially established in just 2008, is still making its baby steps in that giant industry.
That said, it’s hard to argue that JBW watches are some of the most comment-worthy timepieces presently available. Not without a reason are they on the lips of many watch critics and aficionados.
Whether it’s all for good reasons is another matter that you can explore in detail by reading my JBW brand review.
If you’re already familiar with the name and considering getting your first (or next) JBW timepiece, you must have heard about the Phantom series. At the moment in time, it’s JBW’s best-selling collection and probably one that sticks out in terms of extravagant design – even by JBW’s own ridiculously high standards.
In this JBW Phantom watch review, we will have a closer look at the line that will hopefully help you decide whether the watch is worth your time (pun intended) and money.
Without further delay, let’s go.
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JBW Phantom Watch Review
There’s this brilliant saying that goes “you never get a second chance to make a second impression”. And that’s exactly why the JBW Phantom review will begin with a detailed inspection of the watch’s much-discussed exterior.
Before we go into details of the specific watch parts, it’s worth mentioning that JBW Phantom is available in a few variations. Based on the number of sales and my own taste, I’ve selected three. The differences between the three models are mostly color-related. Hence, we will refer to all models based on their color theme.
Each of the JBW Phantom models comes with a rectangular stainless steel case. The material is a fairly standard choice not only amongst JBW collections but the vast majority of highly-rated brands because of its impressive longevity as well as easy-on-the-eye appearance.
Depending on the color variation, the specific type of stainless steel will differ.
- The black-and-gold JBW Phantom uses an 18k gold-plated stainless steel
- The all-black version of the watch uses a two-tone 18k-gold & black ion-plated stainless steel
- The black-and-silver Phantom model uses basic stainless steel type
Although it would be weird to refer to any of JBW watches as minimalistic, the last option is probably the least flashy of the three. On the other hand, if you prefer the opposite spectrum of the shining-bright-like-a-diamond scale, go for any of the first two versions.
Size-wise, the cases of all models are unified. The case diameter is 46mm whilst all are 19mm thick. By no means are any of these watches petite which probably makes them a better fit for folks with medium-to-large wrist sizes. All watches come with solid, screw-down casebacks which aid the protection against water damage.
The cases in all three watch models are equipped with a stationary bezel. The bezel, as well as the lugs, are adorned with as many as 238 genuine white diamonds. Considering the Entry-Level pricing of these watches, it’s difficult not to be impressed with what’s on offer in this aspect.
Each of the three JBW Phantom watch models under the loop here is equipped with a genuine leather strap. The calfskin leather band is designed in a crocodile pattern and measures 30mm in width.
All straps come with fold-over clasps which makes the adjustment process a smooth sail. The strap is 30mm long.
Whereas it’s hard to argue that leather bands are extremely easy on the eye and probably the most elegant type out there, bear in mind that those aren’t as enduring as stainless steel. If you plan to wear the watch at work or while socializing, you will be absolutely fine. At the same time, flashing it at the gym or on the beach might turn many heads but poses a bigger risk of damage.
By far the most comment-worthy part of the series. To say that it’s unique would be quite an understatement.
The bold appearance makes an immediate statement with the lack of hour markers – something we see in the vast majority of watches across different brands. Instead, the dial includes minute markers placed at the twelve spots where we’d normally see hour indices.
The dial features a three-hand configuration, with the two main hands responsible for measuring hours and minutes, glowing in the dark. There’s also the second hand, available in the same ocean blue color across all three models, which adds to the complexity of the design.
JBW Phantom watches are chronograph models. Hence, they’re supplied with three additional sub-dials. To add to the luxury feel of this series, each sub-dial is made from mother of pearl. The chronograph timers allow for 60-second, 60-minute, and 24-hour measurements.
To round off the feature-packed watch face, between 4 and 5 o’clock you will find a date display window.
Crucially, JBW Phantom uses the best-available form of protection against dial damage in the form of anti-reflective and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass.
Being the most defect-prone part of any watch, a cracked glass might not only be unsightly but also lead to movement damage. Even the smallest of scratches might prove to be leaking tiny bits of moisture that can be deadly for your timepiece.
Sapphire crystal watches are the norm for JBW, as well as some of the top-end watchmakers such as Rolex, Omega, or Breitling. Considering the price range of JBW timepieces, we shouldn’t expect anything different, really.
At the time of writing, all JBW collections run on battery-powered (quartz) movements. According to the brand itself, there’s no plan to change that anytime soon – something I as a massive fan of mechanical watches find quite disappointing. Nevertheless, if you value accuracy above all, you will love what’s on offer with JBW Phantom watches.
Depending on the collection, JBW goes with Swiss or Japanese quartz movements. The latter is the most common pick amongst chronograph models. Hence, all JBW Phantoms use it.
The particular caliber used across all three Phantom models is Seiko VD53. The chronograph quartz movement beats at a frequency of 32,768 Hz and provides an accuracy of +/- 20 seconds/month. That’s a fairly standard result for Japanese-made quartz movements in this price range.
The good news is, in case of any issues with the movement past the warranty period, it’s pretty cheap to replace. The replacement shouldn’t set you back more than $30.
In general, you shouldn’t expect JBW watches to be great swimming companions. Across the collections, you will find timepieces equipped with between 30m-100m water-resistance ratings.
When it comes to the JBW Phantom watch, the WR rating is 50m. The fact that these models come with screw-down casebacks and crowns certainly aids the cause. Nevertheless, timepieces with a 5ATM/50m rating shouldn’t be considered more than splashproof. Taking the watch for longer swimming sessions might really be pushing it.
Also, don’t forget JBW Phantoms use leather bands. When exposed to frequent contact with water, the straps might not last long. Furthermore, they are likely to develop an unpleasant odor.
JBW Phantom Review: Conclusion
Summing up the JBW Phantom watch review, I think it’s fair to say that these timepieces deliver excellent value for money. Nevertheless, they aren’t made for all.
For starters, the incredibly extravagant look means the watch isn’t the smallest, nor the lightest. With so many dial features and ornaments, particularly the 238 round-shaped diamonds adorning the heavy case and lugs, the timepiece simply can’t be light as a feather. If you don’t mind heavier watches and the 14-ounce weight doesn’t put you off, then there’s nothing to worry about in this aspect.
Although by no means ruling out the purchase, the 46mm case size also makes the watch a better fit for wearers with medium-to-large wrists. If the size of your wrist is extremely small, you might want to check out other JBW collections.
Besides the rich collection of diamonds, another reason for which I consider JBW Phantom an Entry-Level luxury is the presence of sapphire crystal. This glass material is considered the most enduring and is an ever-present pick across all the biggest names in the industry.
Movement-wise, it’s hard to have much against the Seiko-made Japanese quartz caliber used in the series. It’s accurate, pretty durable, and cheap to replace movement that, with the right care, should provide years of hassle-free use.
Final Say: If you have a courageous fashion sense and would like to wear a watch that will help you stand out from the rest, the JBW Phantom series is an excellent option that will do just that.