Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Overtime with the Hager Pheon GMT 38 mm

Before we go any further, it is important for me to make clear that I am biased.  I am friends with the owner of Hager Watches.  I am inclined to like what they offer, I think it is solid value for the price.  And therefore I cannot in good conscience say that this is your typical review.   Like I said, I am biased.

So with that said...
When I started Tempus Fugit nearly 10 years ago, I would do 15 day reviews.  Over time that shrunk in half, but from time to time, if the watch brand is okay with it, I will push things out a little longer.  Well, it is not lost on me, as a teacher, that there is a distinct difference between 7 days and 23 days.  So after 23 days, what's the verdict?
Well, we'll get to that.  Let's start at the beginning. This Hager is a departure from previous models in a few ways.  The packaging is not the previous dive bottle, but is a plastic case that you could actually use for something beyond gathering dust in your basement, garage or attic.

The other obvious departure (apart from design) is the fact that this Hager was not assembled in the US as others have been.  This one bears the Swiss Made label.  No, this does not mean that Hager has opened a facility in the Swiss hinterlands along the French or Italian borders, but rather they are partnering with an assembly house - just like some big-time Swiss brands you might have heard of.  
But it goes without saying that the design is a departure from previous Hager offerings that tend to be more diver-centric (40 + mm with rotating bezels).  There are certainly design cues from other watches out there, but just as I anxiously await the "mash-up" offerings of micro brewers (small breweries frequently partner on limited runs of shared recipe versions, typically in the summer months), I find this one to be, rather refreshing.
Right off the bat, I would have to point out the comfort in wearing the Pheon, and this is down to (at least in my opinion) 2 things:

1.  The shape - more cushion than round.
2.  The size - in this instance, less is truly more.

Despite the fact that men only represent approximately half of the potential watch market out there, there seems to be an almost pre-ordained need to divide into two categories:

Stupidly Big

Ridiculously Small

In essence, there is no truly "just right".  You're either "man enough" to wear a 44 - 50 mm watch or you should just get a dress watch and be done with it.  A few brands have proven that this is, in fact, not really a foregone conclusion.  Rolex offers different sizes that are not necessarily predicated on male vs female models.  Curious to relate?  We all come in different shapes and sizes.  And Hager realized that too when they opted for two size options for their new Pheon collection - 
38 mm, and 42 mm.  
The fit and feel of the Pheon is, at least for me, "Goldilocks".  It's just right.  While a lot of this is down to size and shape, another big point is the bracelet.  It's comfy.  And in another departure, the links on this one are "pin and collar", as opposed to screws.  

And that favorite feature of myself and Hager fans around the world - 
The ratcheting clasp.  One thing that I wish Hager would offer, and that is "half-links".  While a ratcheting clasp is a great option for getting the size just right, there is a part of me that wishes I could get the bracelet sized to a more precise fit, and use the ratcheting clasp for hot/humid days when my wrist swells. 

Another big departure is the dial -
It is what Hager refers to as Gradient Fumé blue sunburst dial.  And I can tell you, it's a bit special. In addition, the dial is a "sandwich" style, meaning  you've got some depth between the "top" dial and the underlying lume.  
The crown guards are subtle, and the crown itself is marked with the Pheon legend, and is screw down.  The threading of the crown is smooth and secure, and the setting is precise.
The case back also screws down, and also bears the Pheon legend.

The movement is (I believe) a Soprod with hours, minutes, seconds and GMT.  The time keeping was solid.
So the only thing that might put some people off of the GMT model is the lack of a 24 hour track or bezel insert.  If you've never owned a GMT watch, you will be forgiven for not knowing that the GMT hand moves on a 24 (not 12) hour scale.  So this will force you to do more than just take a quick glance.  You will need to do some quick math.  But, I personally like this touch.  It makes the time telling process a little more interactive.But I also realize that it is not going to be everyone's jam.

Pricing - now this is where some previous customers and / or followers of Hager might do a small double-take.  The Pheon weighs in at $1,165.  But it is important to realize that while the Pheon (as well as the Commando GMT and the Commando MilSub 10th Anniversary) cost more than the Aquamariner and other offerings from Hager, these pieces represent the evolution of Hager as a brand.  For better or worse, Swiss movements cost more than Miyotas.  The thing to try and understand is that by moving upwards for some models in the range, Hager is (in my biased opinion) offering something for a few different price sensitivities, while not abandoning their original customer base.

So that's some feedback from a biased source.

Here are the pertinents, straight from Hager -


38mm: Case Thickness: 12mm; Case Height: 45.5mm
AISI 316L polished steel
Scratch resistant domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating (AR)


Gradient Fumé blue sunburst dial


Swiss Made Automatic GMT movement with 42 hour power reserve


Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT


Band Width for the 38mm: 20mm tapers to 18mm

Water Resistance

20 ATM = 660ft

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