I have had quite a few different case materials cross my desk over the last three years, though most of them tend to be a metal of some sort. I have also had a handful of watches with carbon fiber dials, so I’m not unfamiliar with the material. That all said, I have not spent any time with a carbon fiber monocoque case – that is, until the ITAnano Phanton Carbon 43 Quartz came in for review.
First off, who is ITAnano? They’re actually not a new brand – you might know them better as iTime (we first wrote about them here), and they have Alessandro Baldieri at the helm. They’ve changed the name, but they’ve kept on producing the same watches (43mm and 49mm variants in both mechanical and quartz) that they’ve had all along.
Now, to look at the Phantom, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was some sort of a plastic, rather than carbon fiber, since it doesn’t have the weave we more commonly see. While I’m guessing it’s set in some sort of a resin, I’m going to take the brand’s word that it is CF. It has an interesting, smooth, feel, and has a visual appearance that for me calls to mind Tyvek. For being a non-metallic case (other than the case back), it has very crisp edges and lines – much sharper than you’d see in an injection molded plastic case.
So, why CF? Other than the novelty factor to set the brand apart, my guess is that it’s for the weight savings. Our 43mm watch weighs in at a mere 68g on it’s silicone strap, which makes for a crazy light watch for its size. In keeping with the lightweight theme, you’ve got aluminum used on the textured crown, as well as on the colored lug fasteners; the tang buckle is make of plastic.
With the integrated-style strap and angled lugs, this watch does a fairly good job of conforming to your wrist. Once set into place, I didn’t have any issues with needing to fiddle with the strap (it’s sole keeper did a good job of keeping in place), and its light weight meant that it was easy enough to basically ignore the watch until I needed to check the time.
For the Phantom line (and, really, all of ITAnano’s Carbon watches) color options abound. For ours, we went with the classic combination of blue, black, and white (well, ok, silver). While it is an overall rather dark watch, the polished hands and indices do a good job of reflecting the light from under the mineral crystal. Along with the grey of the case, helps to lighten things up a bit visually. The hands themselves are decently sized, though the hour hand could probably be a touch wider and longer, as the eye is drawn to the lume strip, which makes the hand feel smaller than it actually is.
Functionality as provided by the Ronda 505 movement is fairly standard – three-hander plus date. Interestingly enough, this is one of the quieter non-steel cases I’ve come across, so you’re not overly distracted by the “tick tick” that you’ll sometimes get with a quartz movement in, say, a plastic or brass case. Definitely a plus for getting a quartz model into the watch box.
All in all, this was a fun watch to wear. It’s lightweight nature lends it well to being a good everyday activity sort of a watch, and it should handle getting wet if the occasion arises. I probably wouldn’t swim with it (it carries an odd 70m WR rating), but it should be fine if it gets splashed or caught in the rain a bit. While we reviewed the 43mm model, over at aBlogtoWatch, they reviewed the 49mm version (and covered the carbon material used) – check that out here.
Coming in at just under $250, it’s on the higher end for a quartz model (even if the movement is Swiss), but you’re paying for the materials and the processing needed to create the case. It’s definitely a unique look – and if you’re looking for lightweight, a carbon case could be the way to go. itanano.com
- Brand & Model: ITAnano Phantom Carbon 43 Quartz (ref. PH4300-C PH01B)
- Price: $249.03
- Who’s it for?: I think this is for the person who wants a bigger watch, but really doesn’t want to deal with the weight that a bigger steel case involves
- Would I wear it?: Yes, I very likely would
- What I’d change: I’m just curious if we couldn’t have a bracelet executed from the same carbon fiber material – that would be an interesting look
- The best thing about it: How light the watch is for it’s size
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