As mentioned in the previous Phosphor review, we also received two of their newest curved e-ink models: the P-0302 and P-0201. (The picture to the right is the 0201.) With these watches, Phosphor has embraced the capabilities that differentiate e-ink from previous technology, creating curved displays previously impossible. While they differ slightly in function and even more in style, the two are quite similar in many ways, and the choice between them is mostly one of size and style.
Specs in common between the two:
•38mm wide by 8mm thick case.
•Waterproof to 50m (160ft).
•Stainless steel case, mineral crystal.
•Both are available with rubber, leather, or bracelets.
•User-replaceable CR2032 batteries.
•Toggle-able white-on-black and black-on-white display in all modes.
The P-0201 is described as “Digital Hour Clock Watch,” and the P-0302 is listed as “Digital Calendar Watch.” These are pretty accurate in describing their style differences. The 0201 is all about the time, with the numeric or nouveau hour-circle display of the current time. It also has glyphs for PM and “alarm on.” Functions include time mode, date display, alarm, and hour-circle mode. Seen above, this last one is the most striking, displaying hours as a notch in a ring with minutes below them. Striking, easy to read from across the room, and generally quite functional. As with every other e-ink watch, once a minute the entire display redraws itself in inverse, making for a dramatic and sometimes distracting display as the whole face redraws in white or black before adding the mode display. People will notice when you wear these!
The P-0201 review unit is the version on a rubber strap. It’s 24mm, non-tapering, dual-tang-buckle, and very comfortable. On the inside of the strap, the Phosphor name is printed: a decent way to provide grip and texture. On my 7.5″ wrist, the curvature of the watch is functional, low-profile, and sleek. The case has hooded lugs and straight spring bars which make for an integrated look I quite like. The sides of the case are polished, and the top brushed which is attractive without causing too many specular reflections. The curvature of the display and crystal takes getting used to and is a nice demonstration of the new capabilites of e-ink. (A curved LCD is darn near impossible.) Overall, it’s a striking, but not flashy watch. I quite enjoy wearing it.
The P-0302 is larger than the 0201, as you can see from the comparison picture. It’s 12-15mm longer, with a shape closer to a bracelet than a watch. On the contrast-stitched leather band, the larger case makes an attention getter with its striking face of displayed calendar.
(I apologize for the pictures; the extraordinary curvature makes reflections unavoidable.) The 0302′s modes are simpler and different from the 0201 — the larger 0302 is oriented around the calendar display of the month, with the current day underlined and the days of the week at the top of the display. Beneath that are two horizontal areas used to display hours (larger) and minutes (smaller, opposite color). You can also have it just display the date in large digits, which is clever but kind of useless for timekeeping.
The style of the 0302 is a bit dressier too, with screwed lugs, dual round buttons on the right side, and wider bezels. The longer case shows off the curved display even more than the 0201 which looks really cool if you’re a tech-watch fan like I am.
The 24mm leather strap is high-quality, with finely spaced holes, thorn buckle, and dark orange stitches. On my wrist, the 0302 wraps more (as seen), but remains comfortable. Surprisingly, the 0302 lacks the alarm function of the 0201. Another odd design choice is the calendar — it simply starts in the upper left, day 1 first, so there’s no visual indication of the day of the week. Since this differs from how a calendar is usually printed, its something you’ll have to relearn.
All e-ink watches lack illumination, and are therefore not readable in the dark. Since the e-ink displays are opaque, Phosphor will have to use front lighting, which is a bit more of an engineering challenge. Similarly, sub-display solar panels won’t work either, so don’t expect to see solar-powered e-ink soon. (Bezel or rehaut panels might work if the power consumption numbers add up.)
I was expecting to prefer the 0302, but after wearing them a couple of weeks, the 0201 has won me over. The display of time, in either stark numeric minimalism or hour disc, is readable at a glance, and elevates this watch to usable instead of mere novelty. The difference in size is notable but not a big factor in wear comfort, so if perhaps your job requires you to be more aware of the day and date, you’d like the 0302 better. The price difference is negligible; list prices for these two are $175 and $195 for the 0201 and 0302 respectively. Either one makes a nice conversation piece, as the curved e-ink display is eye-catching and new. I’m impressed with the design and execution on these, and look forward to seeing what else Phosphor can do with the new capabilities e-ink brings to timekeeping display.