I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. I blame it on my shyness growing up, an introvert of sorts. I was the kid that would hide behind his big brother not saying too much if I didn’t have to. It really wasn’t until I started working in healthcare were I had to come out of my shell and now nobody can believe that I was shy when I tell them. My shyness has translated into what I am drawn to naturally in life, I always go the unique first, the out of the ordinary, the underdog. Gong against the grain, going against the odds, going against the majority, all of these are commendable. Especially when there is known risk involved. There is something that I respect when a company goes outside of the box. This is what Borealis has done with the piece we will be taking a look at today, the Porto Santo.
I was immediately intrigued when I saw the pictures of this watch. What pulled me in first was the shape of this case. Venturing away from the standard round case and going for a squarish shape is what starts to create a mystique about the Porto Santo. I must admit that seeing pictures of this case vs. holding it in person is quite a different experience. The case size and shape in person in impressive. The fixed bezel has a mirror polished finish as does the top edges of the case itself. Both create a very nice border of the dial and the case. The signed screw down crown not only screws/unscrews smoothly but operating the crown to wind, set the time, etc… also operates smoothly without fail. The crown is signed with an engraved Borealis ‘B’. The 316L stainless steel case is 44mm x 53mm x 14mm height. The brushed finish on the Porto Santo is done with nice precision and consistency throughout the case, which gives this watch a real rugged/tool watch feel.
The screw down case back features an engraved swimming mermaid and some information about the PS, such as 300m WR. Yes, the Porto Santo case is on the larger size, but Borealis smart choice of lugs allows the PS to wear smaller than the dimensions suggest. The lugs are reminiscent of the welded wire lugs of the WW1 trench watches, which not only aid in the wearability of the Porto Santo, but also gives it a cool vintage feel as well. The lugs do allow you to change the strap unlike the trench watches where the strap would either be cut off or disintegrate over time. In between the lugs there is a standard spring bar that allows easy strap changes. If you take notice of the hexagon screw heads that are on the side of the case these hold the lugs in place. Not only do these screws add function but they also add nice detail to the case.
Speaking of straps, the 24mm leather strap is anything short of awesome. Thick, soft leather deep brown in color, with black stitching, it just adds a depth the the Porto Santo that is hard not to like. An awesome strap with a mediocre buckle is something that is all too common on a OEM strap, but Borealis follows up on the strap with a very nice custom roller buckle.
The dial on the PS is clean, simple but packed full of detail and is easy to see because of the sapphire crystal with A/R coating inside. Let’s start with the chapter ring that is engraved with Borealis around the top and Porto Santo around the bottom. This is a detail that is becoming quite popular these days. Instead of having just a plain chapter ring, a bit of engraving detail steps it up a notch. The black dial looks quite plain at first glance, but play with the angles/light and you will soon see the details begin to appear with the raised ‘Borealis’ located under the 12 o’clock marker.
The splash of color that comes in at the sunken small seconds dial at the 4/5 o’clock position gives the dial some nice depth. The yellow second hand and yellow cross hair, that is set against the matte black dial just pops brilliantly. The sunburst style small seconds again adds dimension and depth. I like how the 20 seconds marker is printed larger than the 40 & 60 seconds marker, giving the seconds a 3D look.
The raised rectangular shaped, white hour markers also pop off the black dial. The hour/minute markers have a nice clean/balanced look that keeps the symmetry in check on the Porto Santo. I think that we have ignored these hands long enough, especially the tail on the hour hand. The balance of this dial is carried through on the hands as well, in terms of proportion to the size of hands vs. size of the dial. All too often companies have a large dial, but the hands are lost due to inadequate sizing. That is definitely not the case here. The time can be easily read in low light or dark situations thanks to the superluminous BGW9 superluminova. A full charge will allow you to read the time throughout the night with ease.
Ticking away inside of the Porto Santo is the automatic Miyota 8218 movement. It is a 21 jewels movement that beats at 21’600 vibrations per hour, 3 Hz. This movement has non hacking seconds with a power reserve of 40 hours. This movement has been proven over and over to be reliable with an accuracy of -25 ~ +40 s/ day.
There are risks of course from a business perspective when you go outside of the box. People are ofter hesitant to try something different. Personally I admire Borealis for taking a known risk and delivering this unique watch. There are a lot of pro’s to this watch that should eliminate any buyer hesitation. The case has solid construction, it has a reliable movement ticking away inside, the strap & buckle is pro-custom quality and the clean dial is legible in both day light and dark. I like the way it looks & feels on the wrist and it has excellent wrist presence. It has a great vintage aesthetics infused with modern flare. You get a lot of nice details for the $299 price! The Porto Santo should be available June/July.
I want to personally thank Borealis for the honor of doing this review. Thank you all for reading.
Case Size: 44.00mm x 53.00mm
Screwed down crown
Sapphire Crystal with A/R coating inside
Miyota 8218 Automatic Movement
316L Stainless Steel Case
Lug Width: 24.00 mm
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Case height: 14.40 mm
Premium Leather strap
Swiss Made C3 or Superluminous BGW9 Superluminova applied to dial, watch hands
Screwed Case Back with engraved mermaid