BOLDR Expedition — Hands-on (p)review
To our regular readers and to those who follow the microbrand watch scene, the BOLDR name might ring a bell. After the Journey chronograph that we reviewed here, and the Odyssey automatic dive watch that known an immense success on Kickstarter, they will go live on November 1, with a new project, the Expedition, a collection of automatic field watches, one better looking than the other. They sent me two prototypes to write this review and seriously, I can’t decide which one is my favourite. Usually, when it comes to a watch collection, there is always one that really stands out, but with these two Expedition models, I’m completely in love. This might spoil the entire review, but when it comes to design, specs and comfort the BOLDR Expedition is on the top of my 2017 microbrand list.
There will be six models, all named after the world’s most challenging mountains: the all-black Kilimanjaro with white hands, indexes and numerals, the Rainer with black case and dial with a matte grey internal bezel, the Fuji with a stainless steel case and mat grey dial and bezel with Orange C numerals, the Rushmore with stainless steel case and black dial and finally, the Everest with its blue dial and the Eiger with white dial and black bezel that we will inspect in this review.
As these are prototypes, I can’t tell you much about the packaging but based on my experience with the Journey chronograph, I’m expecting that the designers at Boldr have put a lot of thought into the packaging of the final product. When I accepted to review these watches, my curiosity was picked by a lume picture (more about the lume later) and when I opened the package I was blown away by the overall look of these two watches. The way the dial colour is matched with the canvas strap, the matte finish of the case and the buckle, everything just comes together in a beautiful way that oozes quality. It looks and feels solid, reliable and professional, just as a tool you would trust your life with.
There are watches that don’t need too much explaining — think of those racing chronographs that just by looking at them you can feel the smell of burnt tires. The same way the Expedition radiates adventure, it just takes you above the clouds where the air is rare and the snow never melts. You strap one of these babies on and you are ready to conquer places that few people dared to approach.
As I mentioned earlier, I would have a hard time choosing between these two models, the obvious difference between them is the colour of the dial and that of the strap. In both cases, the orange accents on the crown and the second hand bring an interesting twist to the overall design. You just can’t miss them and it multiplies the cool-factor of the watch. Under the domed sapphire crystal, the Eiger has a black internal rotating bezel with minutes and cardinal points that is complemented by a white dial and highly visible hands. With the Everest, they’ve opted for an all-blue colour scheme and when it comes to the shade of blue, they just nailed it — it is a toned-down camouflage blue that works great with the overall spirit of the watch. While these pictures were shot on a beautiful sunny day, the same blue on a dark day looks a lot darker, almost black. In any case, reading the time on both of these watches is very easy.
The back of the watch puzzled me a bit, I was not sure what those lines are, I first thought it’s a protective plastic, but then I realized those are contour lines showing elevations. In the meantime, Boldr sent me a picture of the back the way it will actually look on the production model. I’m not sure if they thought of it, but it would be mighty cool to have different backs for the different models, showing a map of the mountain after which the model was named.
Behind the see-through back, you can find an automatic Swiss Sellita SW200-1 that features hacking seconds hand and a power reserve of 38 hours. I would have loved these watches just as much with a Japanese movement too, but having a Sellita beating inside will definitely appeal to many.
Let’s turn off the lights and let the Expedition shine. Again, I’m undecided… I’m a big sucker for lume-coated dials, so the Eiger speaks to me, but the Everest is just as cool.
Before we would wrap up our exploration of the Boldr Expedition, I’m not expecting everyone to share my excitement for these watches, but if you are in the market for a field watch, you have to give the Expedition a serious thought. As of today, the project is live on Kickstarter, with Early Bird prices starting at US$389 (full retail is expected to be $599). Go check out the other models too: https://goo.gl/K4C6C8
Movement: Sellita SW200-1
Diameter: 41 mm
Lug-to-lug: 48 mm
Thickness: 14.5 mm
Case: 316L stainless steel
Water resistance: 20 atm/ 200 m
Crystal: double dome, sapphire with AR coating
Strap: military-grade canvas with calf leather lining
More details at www.boldrsupply.co