BOLDR Journey Chronograph — hands-on review
BOLDR is a watch microbrand, or should I call them a startup, founded by Travis Tan and Leon Leong from Singapore and Malaysia. They are also behind the Patek inspired Travis Leon Heirloom Series, that got successfully funded on Kickstarter. Their first project with BOLDR, the Voyage, was a really cool looking smart watch that nicely combined the design of a pilot watch with a pedometer, a notification system and a camera remote control. The project was widely popular on Kickstarter, but unfortunately, it got cancelled mainly because of cost increases due to CE and FCC certifications, you can read more about it here. But this hiccup was not the end of BOLDR, this year they were back on Kickstarter with a new watch project, borrowing heavily from the Voyage design, they launched the Journey collection of meca-quartz chronographs. The Journey that came in three flavours was received with a lot of enthusiasm, the project raising over $100,000 CAD. As the founders are receiving their watches, BOLDR sent me a production model of the black and yellow Wasp chronograph to take it for a spin.
The packaging is functional and it serves well its purpose of protecting the watch on its journey to the new owner. Included in the box, there is a brushed metal warranty card with the BOLDR logo, which is strong enough to withstand a nuclear attack, a user instruction signed by the founders of the company, and — I found this amusing — they also include a few stickers to decorate your laptop or your bumper with the BOLDR logo.
The diameter of the case is 43 mm, but because of the wire lugs, and the overall rounded shape of the watch, it feels smaller, which for me, having small wrists, is not bad. Because of this, I could also imagine the Journey on the wrist of a lady. At 14 mm, it’s far from being a thin watch, but quite an important part of its height comes from the thick domed mineral crystal that brings the dial to life. Another advantage of the rounded pebble-like shape of watch is that it played nicely with the cuff of my shirt, although I mostly wore it with a t-shirt.
The sandwich dial and the choice of typography for the numerals are unmistakable hat tips to vintage military watches. The printed minute scale running all around the dial is only fully visible if you look at the watch from a straight angle, otherwise, the thick rounded crystal will hide it under the distorted image of the dial. This is what I mean when I say that the crystal brings the dial to life. Looking at the dial from different angles will make the indexes, the numerals and the hands shift shapes and dance around in a way you will never see on a watch with a flat crystal.
At 6, we have the date window while at 9 and 3, we have the 24-hour subdial and the 60-minutes chronograph counter, both sitting lower and being decorated with a sunray effect. There is a great contrast between the hands and the dial, a great help when reading the time. The minute and the hour hands have luminous coating, but I was surprised to see that the numerals and the indexes of the sandwich dial lack any lume. I find, it is a missed opportunity, the Journey would have looked amazing in dark with its thick crystal…
Since it’s a quartz movement, I did not fiddle too much with the crown, I’ve set the time and the date and that was it. The pushbuttons are quite smooth to operate, it does not require extreme force to start, stop, and to reset. Once activated, you’ll get to experience the meca-quartz in action, the bright yellow second hand starts its continuous sweep around the dial, almost like a mechanical chronograph.
The stainless steel back of the Journey features a drawing by Malaysian tattoo artist Kevin Tan and the well fitting quote from Laozi: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
The Journey Wasp is matched with a black leather strap with black stitching and a branded black PVD coated buckle. It gives the watch a more serious allure than it really is. If it would be my watch, I would think of playing around with different straps: black and yellow, black with white stitching, yellow… there are quite a few possibilities.
Everyone needs a weekend beater and the BOLDR Journey is a great candidate to add to your shortlist of casual pieces. It’s the perfect companion for an evening of BBQ with friends, but watch out, your girlfriend might borrow it from time to time.
Because of the PVD coating, the Wasp is $10 more expensive than the rest of the Journey collection. You can order it from the BOLDR website for $269.
The nice people at BOLDR have prepared a special offer for our readers. At checkout, use the WATCHPAPERXBOLDR code to receive an extra black leather NATO strap with your watch.