Watch Review: Borealis Porto Santo


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




Watch Review: Ginault Ocean Rover


Who would think that watches could create a dilemma? These precious little items that we adore are supposed to bring us joy plain and simple. But often we find ourselves asking pilot vs diver, date vs. no date, bracelet vs. strap, 40mm vs. 44mm, the list goes on and on. When the Ginault Ocean Rover arrived here it created a bit of a dilemma for me. How do I approach this review? We all know what watch inspired this piece, so I went back and forth on whether to compare and contrast or not. I picked the not. I decided to approach this piece as a dive watch and I will explore just as I would any other piece. I have heard both sides of the fence on this watch and you can make the choice yourself whether if it’s something you are looking for or not. I am hear to give you my interpretation of this watch.


The 40mm x 47 L2L x 14mm height stainless steel case is a combination of both polished and brushed finish. The sides of the case and lugs have a mirror polished finish and the top of the lugs are brushed. I have to say that the brushed finish is done with great precision. The way the brush strokes are angled it is a relatively small detail but a detail one can truly appreciate. The short lugs curve nicely to meet the bracelet and are solid with no lug holes. You can follow the polished side of the case as curves up to form the crown guards. The crown guards nicely protect the screw down crown. What I like is that the crown guards are big enough to protect the crown, but not where they obstruct the ease of screwing/unscrewing the crown.


The ease of crown operation can be disrupted if a crowns edges are not conducive for a good grip. The Ocean Rovers crown has gear style edges which makes gripping this crown quite easy.  A detail that I think is a must for a screw down style crown. Another detail that I think is a must is that a crown should be signed. Plain crowns are just boring if you ask me. This crown is signed with the Ginault clover/flower. Turning the Ocean Rover to it’s backside you can see the screwdown case back which is quite simple in design, featuring Ginault 4360 and CV 22/29. There is some nice coin edging to the case back that should be noted here.


Turning the watch back over we can take a look at the bezel. 120 clicks, stainless steel inlay lume faux pearl all present here on the Ocean Rover. The bezel is extremely easy to grip, functions like butter with relatively no play whatsoever. The bezel is definitely a highlight of the Ocean Rover. I like that they kept the vintage feel of this watch intact with the choice of a stainless steel inlay as opposed to a ceramic or other material. The sapphire crystal curves up slightly above the bezel which looks great from the profile view.


So far the case is definitely a hit, now we can move on to the dial. There are some definite plus points on the dial and some miss points. I will cover the miss points first. There is an abundance of text on the dial and some of that text is questionable, such as “Kinetic Continuous” and “Subermersible Maritime”. I believe that we could have done without this text. On either side of the 6 o’clock marker is “hand built in America”. I will say this before moving on, John from Ginault states that a lot of the components of the Ocean Rover are made in America and some components are imported, but the watch is hand assembled entirely in America.


On to the plus points of the dial. The black enamel dial is quite stunning and the crisp white text is very legible set against it. The text that does work on the dial is the Ginault name and logo, Ocean Rover, 1000 Ft/300m. Take a look at the applied indices, take notice of their color. It has a nice patina/natural aged look/feel. From Ginault “Ginault Gold Sand performance is comparable to pure Superluminova C3 in terms of burst and longevity.”-Ginault.  Whatever they case maybe on what the lume is, it is well done. The lume does glow rather bright at night and even the day lume is nice when you come in from the outdoors. The sword hands also received this GS treatment which matches the applied markers/idices very nicely. Speaking of matching, the consistency is also transparent as the polished hands match the edges of the applied indices. The hands on the Ocean Rover are proportioned just right to the dial. The second hand gives the Ocean Rover’s dial that splash of color that one can appreciate. Something else that I appreciate and is helpful especially in the dark or low light situations is the lume at the lollipop tip on the second hand.  The added bonus in my opinion is the fact that the second hand extends to the white minute/seconds track.


I am not a bracelet guy, I am going to be honest. But I have to say that the bracelet on the Ocean Rover is quality, quite possibly one of the nicest bracelets I have come across. From the finish, to the screwed in links all the details are well executed. The top of the links are brushed and the sides are high polished. The highlight of the bracelet is by far is the fastening system. The glide lock style clasp not only looks great, but functions like a dream. The glide lock system allows you to micro adjust the fit of the bracelet to hit those in between sizes which you know your wrist does swell in the heat and shrinks in the cold. The glide lock allows you to adjust for those situations.

Ticking away inside the Ocean Rover is the controversal Ginault Caliber 7275, with a 38 Hours of Power Reserve. According to Ginault it is a 2824 clone. With parts made by Ginault and other parts from suppliers, all of the parts are hand assembled in America by Ginault. Each Ocean Rover comes with a timing certificate for the movement inside. I personally timed mine during the review process and it was losing about a second per day. The Ocean Rover is reliable.

So does the Ocean Rover standout in a what seems like an endless sea of micro subs? What I can answer to this is what I have experienced throughout the years. The Ocean Rover is extremely well built. The quality is good, real good. The finish is consistent. To be honest this ranks up there as one of the top micro subs out there in terms of quality and overall finish. There is a lot of debate out there about this watch, and all of that aside, looking at this watch as just a watch, not what inspired it, or the others that have come before it, this watch is damn well made. The case, bracelet, dial and hands are made with care and precision.

I would have loved to see some drilled lugs on this watch, perhaps on a future offering. Like I mentioned before I would also eliminate some of the unnecessary text on the dial and relocate it to the case back, or eliminate completely. There is a interview on WUS of John from Ginault, I think that you should take the time to check it out if you are at all interested in buying this watch. The watch is comfortable on the wrist, keeps reliable COSC time and has a classic look. There is some controversy surrounding this watch, but like all watches, you should do your homework before making a purchase. Buy what makes you happy!

Thanks for reading!

Company: Ginault


316L Stainless Steel mirror polished and brushed finish
47mm lug to lug
13.5mm thick
20mm lugs
148.4 grams
120 Stops Counter-Clockwise Rotating Bezel
Ginault Caliber 7275
Slightly Domed Sapphire Crystal
1,000 F or 300m Water Resistance
Gold Sand Lume