KARAN MADAN OCTOBER 2017
It was the 23rd of September, 2017 when I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Travis and Leon, the founders of BOLDR Watches in Singapore. The atmosphere was one of fun and excitement as it was the first ever official Diver’s Watches Facebook Group GTG in Singapore, and in the midst of that Travis and Leon spoke passionately about watches, about BOLDR, and about the fun they had in designing and bringing their watches to watch nerds around the globe.
Already a fan of their designs, it came as a happy surprise to me when Travis asked me to take home a BOLDR Expedition Prototype to spend time with and eventually review. Over the past two weeks I have worn it almost daily, taken lots of pictures, and tried to do justice to the faith placed in me. You see, I am neither a watch reviewer, nor an expert in any way, I am a humble watch enthusiast who loves watches, specially micro-brands, and likes to enjoy the few that I can get a hold of.
Made in 316L Stainless Steel, the feature that strikes you first is the size of the watch. 41mm across (without crowns), 48mm lug-to-lug, 14.5mm thick, and 20mm lug width are pretty neat measurements for a modern, sporty watch. The matte bead blasted finish, and clean cut lines give it an understated tactical look. Short lugs make for a compact watch that sits nicely on the wrist.
Twin screw-down crowns that don’t jut out too much in the fully screwed-down position. Both crowns have a knurled finish that lends a secure grip while unscrewing and rotating the crowns. The 2 o’ clock crown unscrews to a fully ‘out’ position to engage the internal rotating bezel, and there is no play in the bezel until the crown is fully out. This is good attention to detail. The 2 o’ clock crown also has orange accents to differentiate it from the 4 o’ clock crown. The 4 o’ clock crown engages the hands for time setting in the fully out position and the date change feature in the intermediary out position, it also has the BOLDR logo on the polished outer surface.
The Expedition has a screw down case back with a transparent sapphire cut out. The rotor on the automatic movement is custom signed with the Boldr logo. The unique design element here is that the sapphire has laser printed contour lines, staying true to the theme of the Expedition, and being a fun addition. In their upcoming Kickstarter campaign there might be an option for black colored contour lines along with the silver opaque lines.
The Expedition series features a double domed sapphire crystal with AR coating. The blue tinges of the AR coating along with the domed sapphire allow for excellent dial legibility even at difficult angles. I can safely say that the sapphire is sturdy and scratch proof because I banged the watch against a door frame on two separate occasions and the crystal is clean and blemish free.
Filled with BGW9 Superluminova the hands and dial indices glow bright after a minimal exposure to the sun. I could discern the time easily at 4:00 am without any prior lume charging. I love the hands on the Expedition. Finished in a bead blasted stainless steel with a syringe like pointy end, these hands are a great call out to the classic field watch style from the major Swiss watch houses. The seconds hand has an orange colored tip with lume filled in, and the tip runs along the minute track on the outer rim. Another aspect that I liked very much was the length of the hands, the hours hand tip clearly reaches the inner edges of the hour markers on the dial, and the minutes hand reaches halfway up the minute track on the outer rim of the dial, both with their pointed ends marking the exact time with precision.
Undeniably the face of the watch it has even numbered hour markers in bold Arabic numbers, and odd numbered hour markers are batons. Both kinds of markers are solid blocks of Superluminova BGW9, same as the hands. To stay faithful to the field watch and Expedition theme, the batons, but not the Arabic numerals, have 24 hours scale markers in smaller size, which, again, are luminous cutouts. The date window is at the 4 o’ clock position, and the white date wheel gives a break from the monochromatic uniformity of the matte black dial. As of this writing, Travis and Leon have told me that there will options for matte back, matte blue, matte grey, and fully lumed white dials in the final production run. The BOLDR logo, a classy affair since I first saw it, is placed beneath the 12 o’ clock marker, in symmetry with the smaller text above the 6 o’ clock marker. This reads spells out the name of the watch, that it is an automatic watch, and 200m/660ft of water resistance.
One of the coolest features of the Expedition is the rehaut, which in this case is an internal bi-directional rotating bezel, engaged and operated by the crown at 2 o’ clock. I have already mentioned the close attention to design that has gone into the crown action above, and the operation of the bezel is equally good. It rotates in both directions with a firm yet resistive action which ensures you will move the bezel in small increments and precisely rather than it flopping around helter-skelter. On closer look at the rehaut you will see that it has two facets, the top facet which is straighter towards the front viewing angle has diver’s countdown markings, whereas the lower facet is angled inwards on a downward slope has compass markings with the four cardinal directions represented by their respective symbols and a dot for every 22.5 degrees. This duality miffed me a bit in the beginning but as I spent time with the watch I began to appreciate the careful thought behind the design and ultimate tool/field/utility purpose of the watch.
The prototype unit I received has the Seiko SII NH35 automatic movement and the production models will be powered by the Sellita SW200-1 automatic Swiss movement, with hacking and winding features. As with the prototype, the production model will also have a custom signed rotor with the BOLDR logo. It lasted me 40 hours from full charge to completely stopping.
Strap and Buckle
Made from a top layer of military grade canvas in steel grey, and a thick leather lining underneath, the strap is sturdy and blends perfectly with the overall theme of the watch. There are two keepers, one fixed and one floating, and the holes for the buckle pin are steel rings. Perfectly toolish, pefectly military, perfectly utilitarian, this one of the better stock straps from any micro-brand that I have seen in a long time. The buckle is made from stainless steel in a matte bead blasted finish, it is all angles and facets, complimenting the finish of the watch case. The leather underneath is stamped with the BOLDR Supple Co. text.
The prototype I received is unfortunately not going to be produced in the final run, but there will be five different color schemes and finish options to choose from. Ranging from all black DLC to bead blasted case, matte black, blue, or grey bezels, black, blue, grey, or full lumed white dials, BGW9 Superluminova, C3, or Old Radium lume, it’s going to be one heck of a party when BOLDR Supply Co. finally launch their Kickstarter campaign in the coming weeks.
I have had a great two weeks with the BOLDR Expedition. At work, doing chores, or the gym, the Expedition blended in everywhere. The understated tones, cool finishing, and that effective splash of color are a pleasure to behold. The smaller (relatively speaking) dimensions of the watch make it a refreshing offering in a world of hefty behemoths being churned out by micro-brands and well established houses alike. As a Seiko and micro-brand lover the Expedition is everything I look for. Is it a watch that I will buy? Definitely!
Official description from BOLDR Supply Co.
From where to wear, go afield with the BOLDR Expedition. A tried, tested and tough tactical timepiece the BOLDR Expedition automatic field watch is a tough, ever ready companion for your next adventure. With a military-inspired design, the Expedition has some of the key features that made the field watch a tactical timepiece, dating back to World War II. So whether for work or play, the Expedition is here to join your journey.
Dial size: 35.0 mm Lug-to-Lug: 48.0 mm Lug width: 20.0 mm Case Size: 41.0 mm Thickness: 14.5 mm
Crown & Pusher Material: 316L Crown Size: 6.50 mm
Production Movement: Sellita SW200-1
Prototype: SII NH35
Water Resistant: 20 ATM / 200M Logo: Raised Logo
Crystal: Double Dome Sapphire with AR coating
Strap Caseback: Screw-down Military grade canvas strap Caseback: See-through, Sapphire
About Karan Madan