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Review: Beacon Watch Co. Pathfinder

By Cameron Martel


Updated on

Big case, big numerals, and big personality

Words/Photography: Me. Beacon Watches provided this watch at no-cost for the purpose of this review/shoot. Please read more about our review policies.

I was approached in March by a representative from Beacon Watches, a niche upstart microbrand that has dropped a Miyota-powered oversized automatic into my lap. Given my tiny wrist syndrome, the sizing proves to be problematic… and that’s not the only thing.

We’ll speak to the gaps later, but for now, I want to focus on the wins. Namely, that the Pathfinder is a handsome take on classic style. Oh, and they’ve used lume for days… night vision is hardly a problem with this big boy on your wrist.

As of today, the Pathfinder rings in a hair under $370. That puts it squarely in the entry-level segment, but near the upper end of what watches with this movement tend to be priced at.

Let’s go a bit deeper and see where in the entry-level automatic landscape the Pathfinder has wound up (that’s two puns, by the way).

Beacon Watches Pathfinder with blue dial

Beach Watches Pathfinder Technical Specifications

  • Model Number: Aqua Silver
  • MSRP: $369
  • Case Diameter: 45 mm
  • Alternate Models: Several variations
  • Movement: Automatic: Miyota 82S7
  • Complications: Day/night display
  • Power Reserve: Estimated 42 hours
  • Water Resistance: 100 m / 330 ft
  • Crystal Material: Sapphire

Beacon Watches Pathfinder Wrist Shot

The Pathfinder is Handsome

Everything about this watch is oversized, from its near-monstrous 45 mm case to the size of the Arabic numerals used on the dial. Even the lume, which is generously applied to the numerals and hands, is in excess- this thing lights up like a Christmas tree as soon as the lights go out.

The open heart display also looks nice, drawing attention to the second’s hand and the day/night indicator. The subdials themselves are grooved, providing a nice reflection point for light to jazz up the space a bit, and the stainless-steel hands look right at home on top of the whole affair.

The result of this combination is an eye-catching and absolutely confident watch when its on your wrist. It’s a focal point that, leveraging both its size and large Arabic numerals, draws attention without appearing obnoxious or overstated.

Somehow, despite its size, Beacon has managed to make the Pathfinder a tasteful complement on the wrist as opposed to an over-embellished peacock-piece. Nicely done.

Serial number engraved on case plate

They’ve Got Your Number

Tacked on to the case, in the same fashion as I found on the Spinnaker Overboard, is a plate that Beacon engraves with your unique serial number. I really don’t care for this if I’m honest; I didn’t care for it on the Overboard, and I don’t care for it here.

It takes away from the otherwise clean and classic lines of the Pathfinder. You may find it attractive (my wife certainly does), but I’d have preferred a simple and clean case.


Speaking of numbers… check out the lume on this thing.

I alluded to it earlier, but honestly, you’ve got to see this watch first-hand to appreciate it.

Beacon has chosen to use Super-LumiNova C3 on the hands, indices, and numerals. This is a hefty lume option that, honestly, makes it impossible not to see this thing at night.

The same is true of dusk and dawn, by the way, where you can see the lume overpowering the ambient light.


Beacon Watch Case

Feature Rich & Well Presented

The rectangular bonded leather case features a zip that, when opened, showcases an impressive rich leather compartment for an extra strap and various authentication cards. Flip the card tab over and you’re presented with the watch, in all its gigantic glory.

The presentation is polished and refreshing compared to the microbrands that are shipping their watches in piano-black wood watch boxes (and the like). I have so many oversized watch boxes in my office that the novelty has long worn off, and when something costs well under $1,000, I question the value that such ostentatious packaging affords in comparison to other details.

The Pathfinder comes with a second strap, which is Italian top-grain leather. This thing ships with two top-grain leather straps for under $400. That is already somewhat impressive.

Extra strap on the Beacon Watches Pathfinder

What a Strapping Young Man

The orange-brown bonus strap, like the red leather strap it ships with, is equipped with quick-release springbars to facilitate your strap-swapping agenda.

I am always a fan of quick-release straps, since leather straps, in particular, wear out and need to be replaced. With regular wear, you can expect a top-grain leather strap to last anywhere from 1-3 years. If you sweat a lot or have naturally oily skin, 1-3 years is closer to 1.

Quick-release springbar

Despite the hub-bub surrounding its presentation (it comes with both a warranty card and a certificate of authenticity), the clasp used on the Pathfinder is your typical stainless-steel buckle with a brushed finish.

The buckle and red strap combination looks awesome until you wear it a few times.

It’s taken a while, but I have begrudgingly started to come around to the idea that signs of wear – the patina, if you will – add character and personality to a watch.

Like I said, begrudgingly.

Brushed steel buckle on Beacon Watches Pathfinder

But in any case, if you want your watch to always look “new” and be spotless and shiny, you’ll find the brushed finish on the buckle to be a sore spot. As you can see from this photo, it rubs and scratches off pretty easily.

Letter engraving on the strap

Still, circling back, the fact that the Pathfinder ships with two top-grain leather straps is a good value-add. There are many grains of leather, with top-grain being among the best in terms of both longevity and overall quality. I love that this one comes with two.

If you thought I was done there, you’d be wrong. A no-cost option when ordering the Pathfinder is custom lettering applied to the back of the strap. You can tack on up to 40 characters, and so I’ve chosen to engrave my super cheesy life motto: “always add value”.

I like it.

Miyota 82S7 automatic movement in Beacon Watches Pathfinder

Vroom, Vroom… Err, More Like “Putt, Putt”

Powering up the Pathfinder is the venerable Miyota 82S7, which is a workhorse automatic commonly found in inexpensive watches. Microbrands, in particular, like to use it because it lets them keep costing down and allows them to direct the budget toward other things (such as a sapphire crystal or a bonus strap).

Unfortunately, the Miyota 82S7 also happens to be a rudimentary movement that, while it is reliable and robust, is lacking on modern functionality, such as hacking (stop-seconds), and accuracy (-20 ~ +40 seconds/day).

That said, fashion-forward buyers wanting a reliable automatic movement could do much worse than the 82S7. Building on that point, at $370 the Pathfinder is both expensive and inexpensive: expensive for a layperson, but inexpensive as far as automatics go.

But There’s a Catch

Beacon Watches offers a 3-year warranty on the Pathfinder, and I suspect that the defect I encountered – bubbling/oxidization of the case finish – would apply.

Also, like the Thomas Earnshaw Longitude, there is a material defect in this Pathfinder. It’s hardly noticeable to the naked eye, but now that I’ve seen it from behind my 90 mm macro lens, I can’t unsee it either. This singular defect takes a 4 or 4.5 out of 5 watch and turns it into a 3 (at best).


A Potential Addition to Your Wrist?

From my point of view, it’s frustrating to have to call out gaps in material quality on an otherwise good watch. This is especially true when it’s a microbrand, where a lot of time, sweat, and investment from a singular person went into it.

Unfortunately, in a world where microbrands are flourishing (and where there is considerable consumer choice), it’s more important than ever to have your ducks in a row… and less acceptable than ever to have defects in watch cases.

Still, I don’t doubt that the sample I received is an anomaly. The rest of the watch is just too well put together for that to be the standard Beacon has chosen. Mistakes happen, after all.

For someone wanting a larger, but tasteful, watch – and one with exceptional night vision – the Beacon Watches Pathfinder is worth a look.

Beacon Watch Co. Pathfinder Photo Gallery

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About Cameron Martel

If it ticks or tocks, I want it on my wrist. I'm a fan of all things that keep good time, and I can't resist a great looking watch. WYCA is my way of appreciating the engineering and artistry that goes into affordable watches. My favorite watch is my Jazzmaster Auto Chrono, and the watch I wear the most is my Weekender Chronograph. I currently have 33 watches in my collection. Learn more about WYCA's Editorial Process.

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