Archer claimed figures of 5 for 76 as Sussex bowled Durham out for 287, before posting 43 for 1 after batting for 11 overs before stumps.
The hosts won the toss and after asking Durham to bat first, the visitors were going well on 72 for 1 but then lost three wickets in as many overs just before lunch to go to the break on 90 for 4. Two of the late wickets went to Philander, the first of his Sussex career. First he dismissed Cameron Steel, caught at square-leg by Wells, before he trapped Stephen Cook lbw for 45 in his next over.
Then Archer, who had taken the first Durham wicket when he removed Keaton Jennings off-stump for 12, struck again when he had Paul Collingwood lbw for 9. Danny Briggs came on at 129 and took a wicket with his first delivery when he had Graham Clark lbw for 23.
Then came the reviving stand between Paul Coughlin and Ryan Pringle, which was not without incident. The pair featured in a rescuing sixth wicket stand. They managed to stave off the Sussex bowlers without actually dominating them, and put on 110 before Pringle was caught behind for 60.
But a short while before that Pringle, on 51, flicked Jordan to long leg, where David Wiese appeared to take a fine acrobatic running catch. However, Pringle did not walk and umpires Graham Lloyd and Ben Debenham decided not to give the batsman out. The Sussex fielders protested but neither batsman nor umpired changed their mind. After that Sussex appeared to raise their game and Durham lost their last five wickets for 48 runs.
Sussex lost Harry Finch to Graham Onions' first delivery but Chris Nash (22) and Wells (16) saw Sussex through to the close of play.