Manufacturer: Borealis | Price: $429 USD (£310 GBP)
Borealis is quickly becoming one of my favourite microbrands. Carlos the owner, pumps out new releases on a regular basis and from my experience of the brand, they’ve always really impressed me with their build quality, finishing, as well as the overall value for money that we get. Today, I’m reviewing their latest release, the Borealis Icarus, a pilot’s watch that has some features that I haven’t yet seen, as well as a movement in the back of it that I’ve never once experienced in any watch. Is this approach from Borealis a bit too risky, or have they totally nailed it with something slightly different and relatively unique?
- Dimensions: Case – 38.1mm, Thickness – 10.7mm, Lug to Lug – 46.7mm, Lug Width – 20mm
- Movement: Ronda R150 Automatic, 28,800vph, 25 Jewels, Hackable, Self Winding, 40hr Power Reserve
- Anti-Magnetic: 20,000A/m | Incabloc Anti-Shock System
- Case: Cerakote H-170 Coated 316L Stainless Steel
- Dial: Matte Black, Blued Sword Hands, Colour-Matched Date at 3
- Lume: Swiss Super-LumiNova® Old Radium
- Strap: Brown Genuine Leather, Quick Release Pins, Cerakote Coated Buckle & Tang
- Crystal: Flat Sapphire, Multiple Underside Anti-Reflective Coatings
- Water Resistance: 100m / 10ATM / 330ft
- Caseback: Screw Down, Stamped Artwork
- Crown: 6mm, Screw Down, Signed
- Weight: 78g (on leather strap)
- Where to Buy: Borealis Watch Company (Shipping; October 2021)
- Warranty: 1 Year International
Borealis Watch Company
Case & Crown
The case of the Borealis Icarus pilot’s watch has an overall diameter of 38.1mm according to my calipers.. The lug to lug is 46.7mm and the overall thickness including the sapphire crystal, I measured in at a very impressive 10.7mm. The mid-case, fixed bezel, crown and buckle are all Cerakote H-170 coated 316L stainless steel. Cerakote H-170 coatings are durable, corrosion-resistant and provide unparalleled levels of hardness and adhesion. These coatings are also resistant to most solvents and chemicals. Overall, the Borealis Icarus definitely looks fantastic and most certainly suits this tough tool watch aesthetic.
The Borealis Icarus has a water resistance rating of just 100m, which is more than enough when you take into consideration that this is a pilot’s watch and not a balls to the wall diver. The proportions of the Icarus are absolute perfection in my opinion, 38 x 46.5mm will suit a ton of wrist sizes. It certainly wears brilliantly on my wrist and it’s very comfortable too. The signed crown is nicely sized at 6mm and as a wee bonus it’s screw down, just for that extra piece of mind. As you can see in the image below, we’re also given a caseback with the obligatory Borealis mermaid, as well as the usual basic spec-sheet etched around the edge.
Strap / Bracelet
If you’re a regular reader of my reviews, most of you should know by now that I’m a bracelet guy through & through. With the Icarus being a pilot’s watch, I sort of knew there wasn’t going to be much chance of a bracelet, but I needn’t have worried too much, as the leather strap fitted to this is of fantastic quality. On the underside of this 20mm strap there are quick release pins for easy strap changes. You’ll also see that Borealis went the extra mile and finished the buckle & tang with the same H-170 Cerakote coating that you’ll find on the case. The strap itself might take a wee while to break in, but to be honest I kind of expected that..
Movement / Accuracy
The chosen movement for the Borealis Icarus is the new high beat, smooth sweep Ronda R150. This Swiss made automatic movement is self-winding, has 25 jewels and the oscillating weight spins up, giving you up to a relatively reasonable 40 hour power reserve. The balance runs at 28,800vph ‘4Hz’ and the movement is also hackable. Checking the overall accuracy on my trusty timegrapher after wearing the Icarus for approximately a week, I was very pleasantly surprised, with the Borealis Icarus coming in at an average of just +1 second per day, with zero beat error! That’s a truly fantastic result, I’m extremely chuffed with that!
Dial, Bezel & Hands
The Borealis Icarus has a nicely manufactured fixed bezel that has the same H-170 coating as the case. The printed text on this very legible dial is just the company name BOREALIS, all in caps, The logo is at the usual spot of just under the triangular marker at 12 o’clock, that’s subsequently been finished in the same vintage creamy colour that you’ll see on the arabics and minute track, as well the hour & minute hands. Taking the design into account, it all adds up to, at first glance, a rather plain-jane / no-frills dial, but that’s the whole point of a pilot’s watch, super clean and very legible at a moments glance. Looking deeper at the details though, It just gets better & better… It’s the attention to detail of the Borealis Icarus is what really sets this apart from other ‘big brand’ pilot’s watches.
Look at that date complication for example, with the white on black ‘negative’ date wheel. You won’t notice it at some angles, but there’s also a double-stepped, almost chamfered edge around the date. I didn’t even notice that detail until I was taking pics in my light tent. That’s a beautifully done date complication people! Way better than some shitty contrasting white square, with a cheesy frame around it. I have read somewhere that there isn’t the option to have the date at 6 with this Ronda R150 movement, so I suppose I can’t grumble about that. Next up are the hour and minute hands, that are VERY nicely executed indeed, with their proportionate, yet very stylish sword design. Another detail that I wasn’t expecting, are the thermally blued hour & minute hands that are just gorgeous, but you don’t really notice these when looking at the dial head on. It’s only at certain angles you’ll notice, like they’re almost winking back at you. Last up, it’s the fully lumed seconds hand, with the actual tip of the hand reaching right out to the minute track. Absolutely zero complaints from me regarding this dial. Love it!!
The lume on the Borealis Icarus is actually way better than I had expected, as the lume that’s been applied to this Icarus pilot’s watch is none other than the vintage style Super-LumiNova® Old Radium. I was so surprised with just how initially bright it is, although I did expect it to fade quickly, which is usually the norm with Old Radium. It just goes to show though, that the excecution of Old Radium can be done right! Seriously, I’m very impressed with the Icarus’ lume application.
I’ve owned and reviewed quite a few pilot’s watches over the years, I can honestly say though, that this Icarus from Borealis Watch Co., is certainly one of my favourites and is most definitely being placed on the Zaltek Reviews Elite List, just as soon as I’ve finished writing this review. There isn’t really anything that I’d change with this one either. The size, overall spec, the strap etc are all excellent choices. Even the movement was a bit of an eye-opener! I’d definitely like to see more of these Ronda R150 movements in the near future from not only Borealis, but other brands too. Carlos @ Borealis, fantastic job with the Icarus, well done!