The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

I have two watches that I wear; my everyday watch is a stainless and gold ladies Rolex Datejust (that I would greatly love to trade in for the midsize version), and the other is a gold David Yurman that I wear on dressier occasions. I’ve seen plenty of other watches that have caught my eye for whatever reason, but it has been years since I saw a watch — any watch — that actually turned my head; that’s exactly what the Phosphor Watches’ Appear did.

This is a much bigger and definitely flashier style watch than my others, but it has a geeky core that intrigues me, and when I was offered the chance to review the Appear, I quickly said yes.

The Phosphor Appear watch line skillfully blends design and technology to craft the ultimate fashion timepiece. Driven by M3D [micro magnetic mechanical digital] technology, the Phosphor Appear watch utilizes miniature-sized rotors adorned with Swarovski crystals that revolve to reveal numerical or chronological information. With each changing minute, an electrical pulse generates an electromagnetic field that changes the position of the crystals on the face of the watch, to elegantly display the passing time, while producing a distinctive sound unique to the Phosphor Appear digital watch line.

When the Appear showed up, it was going by the name “Reveal”. Available in both men’s and women’s versions, the Appear can be ordered with a plain stainless case with a matte black band, a black IPB case with matte black band, or in red, pink, black or white with matching patent leather bands and crystal displays with blinged out bezels.

I was sent the red women’s version, and when I first opened the box I was shocked by the size of the watch. Yeah, I should have realized that at almost 44mm across and 14.5mm thick it was going to be a big ol’ sucker, but that detail escaped me until I opened the plush black presentation box and found myself looking at — and then lifting up — that 2.8 ounce chunk of wrist candy …


The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

  • Case diameter: 43.8mm
  • Overall case thickness: 14.5mm
  • Water resistance: 5 ATM – 50m
  • Display: 12 hour only
  • Functions: Time, Seconds, and Off

When I tried on the Appear, I found that at 5.75″, my wrist needed the last hole on the watch band. Now here’s the thing — I am not a petite woman. I am 5’10” and I wear a size 10, just to put it all into perspective; I suspect that a shorter woman with a smaller wrist might find the watch a bit loose even when it’s on the tightest setting.

But with the watch on my wrist, I was able to reflect upon a couple of things: I discovered that while rows of Swarovski crystals are not something I would ordinarily fancy myself wearing, I found that doing so was fun. Listening to the pffft — pffft — pffft as the numerals flipped over in a manner similar to the flight time board I had seen at the Frankfurt Airport in 2006 was strangely fascinating.

I captured a five second video of the Appear, just to show the mechanical action as the numbers change and so you could hear the numbers changing. You’ll likely need to turn your volume to its highest setting to hear it well.

Don’t forget to turn your volume back down after watching.  =)

I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have asked to see the Appear when I was wearing it, and I have found that old and young alike either really like it or really hate it; the Appear is a watch that polarizes people, whether that was ever the intention or not. Everyone who has asked to see my watch when I was wearing it has commented on its distinct sound, and even those who didn’t particularly care for it have expressed surprise at its fairly reasonable price tag — they expected it to be closer to $1000.00; that says something about how well the watch is made and how unique it is.

Let’s take a look at the watch itself. On the left side, as with most watches, there are no buttons or knobs. 23 rows of crystals are horizontally lined across the watch’s face, and you can see a slight recess in the four areas that will flip their individual crystals to reveal the time. Each of the flipping crystals has two sides, a red and a clear; when the crystals are meant to form numerals telling the time or seconds, they will show red, and when they are not needed to form the necessary numerals, they show clear. A double band of clear crystals surround the watch’s face, and the only area that isn’t given the crystal treatment is the part that says “phosphor”.

The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

On the right side of the watch there are two buttons which are used to set the watch, display the time, display the seconds, or to display a solid white crystal face.

The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

The Appear won’t tell you the date, it doesn’t have alarms, and it isn’t a watch for introverts; the Appear is a bold, beautiful watch that keeps accurate time, is fascinating to watch, and has a unique sound. The display is high contrast and easy to read from almost any angle — except directly from the side, as shown above — but how often will you try to read your watch from that angle? The Appear is battery driven, and according to Phosphor, it doesn’t need much.

The M3D display technology is bi-stable, meaning that the display requires no power to maintain an image, as power is only needed when transitioning from one time to another.

The Phosphor Appear Watch Review
The Appear comes with a band that will adjust to fit an approximately 6″ to 8″ wrist

It looks like there is a possibility of even more styles, because according to Phosphor,

While the current line of Phosphor Appear watches are adorned with crystals, M3D technology allows for any number of materials, such as precious metals, woods or ceramics, to be affixed to the rotating segments, creating the possibility for an endless number of unique watch faces.

I like the Phosphor Appear so much that I wound up ordering a black IPB “men’s” version with a black matte band; I think that it will look great for everyday wear.

The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

Whether you like the Phosphor Appear for its interior technology or for its bold style, there are enough versions so that all but the most conservative wearers should find something they’d like. I hope to eventually see a slightly smaller version of the Appear — perhaps 2/3 the size of this one, but in the meantime I don’t feel that this watch is too big or too klunky for everyday use. I like substantial watches, and I like things that have unique properties to them, and the Appear definitely scores there. This is a watch for people who want something different, people who like geeky technology, and those who want a unique but affordable priced attention-getting watch. I have a feeling that once my black Appear arrives, I will be wearing it more than my other watches … I like the Appear that much.

The Phosphor Appear is available in men’s and women’s styles directly from the manufacturer.

MSRP: Prices start at $199, the more sparkly women’s models are $249

What I Like: Bold and beautiful watch that is fascinating to look at and listen to; the watch’s geeky mechanism that flips the Swarovski crystals gives the watch added intrigue; keeps great time; people will notice it; water-resistant; easy to read display

What Needs Improvement: Women with extremely small wrists will find this watch on the too-large size, and they may not be able to fasten its band tightly enough [my wrist is 5.75″ and the Appear is loose on the tightest setting]

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

6 Comments on "The Phosphor Appear Watch Review"

  1. Ginormous watches are “in” now, if my 15 year-old daughter is anything to go by.

  2. RT @GearDiarySite: The Phosphor Appear Watch Review

  3. The Phosphor Appear Watch Review /via @GearDiarySite – Neat design! I also like their curved eInk watch. A lot!

  4. Adrian Leibas | March 24, 2011 at 8:30 am |

    Flavorrrr-Flaaavvv! (in weird Viking helmet type of voice) :o)

  5. The Phosphor Appear Watch Review by @geardiary

  6. Can someone please explain how they get that many tiny motors inside

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