This review was first published on Scottish Watches on July 19, 2019.
I did not know much about Boldr before they contacted me to ask if they could send me their Boldr Venture.
I had seen some of their watches on Instagram and I thought they looked pretty interesting but I didn’t know anything about the brand or their philosophy, so I googled them and perused their website.
Boldr is based out of Singapore and Malaysia, their aim is to make watches, apparel and gear for the modern adventurer that will be used and abused every day whether that is “traversing the forests of the world, or exploring the urban jungles of the cities.” Their website is peppered with the hashtags #toughenough and #readyforadventure, they are clearly aiming to make tough tool watches that can handle anything you throw at them and that will improve in appearance over time as they get used.
So here we have the Boldr Venture – Boldr’s take on the field watch. This is a modern grab and go field watch, it has a swiss quartz movement housed in a titanium case. The titanium case is tough, light and has a nice matte finish. I haven’t encountered many titanium cases before and I was struck by how much darker than steel this case is. I think the darker case and the finish really work well for a field watch. It’s a 38mm case which is 11mm thick with a 20mm lug width and a 45mm lug-to-lug length. I think this is a great size for a field watch, it strikes the balance between being comfortable and legible while at the same time being unobtrusive.
The case has a couple of other nice features, the crown is a 4 o’clock which offers a little more protection on a case without crown guards, crown guards are not part of the normal field watch aesthetic so this choice of crown position seems very sensible in terms of offering protection while producing something that is in keeping with general field watch look.
The Venture also has quite sharp angular lugs, these add a modern, robust look to the watch which contributes to the overall tough, tool watch vibe. It is a nice variation on the more traditional field watch theme.
The Venture has a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, to my mind this is a great choice in terms of adding a tough, scratch-resistant face to the watch. Visibility is also really good with the combination of anti-reflective coating and flat crystal, this is a very appropriate choice for a field watch offering a great range of viewing angles with minimal reflections.
The dial has superluminova on the indices around the outer edge of the dial and the outer 1-12 digits, the inner 13-24 digits are not lumed. This really helps with legibility at night and makes it easy to tell the time. You’re probably thinking “obviously” but this hasn’t always been the case with field watches. A lot of the vintage watches manufactured to military specifications only had the indices illuminated and because the size and style of the indices was tightly defined there was very little to distinguish which way up a watch was at night if it wasn’t on the wrist. Having a distinctly different or oversized indices at 12 or illuminating some or all of the numerals addresses this issue and makes a field watch much more usable in darker environments.
One of the things that impressed me when the Venture arrived and I unpackaged it is that it is shipped in a four-pocket green canvas watch roll. I think that this is a nice addition to the overall package and much more useful than a watch box. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good watch box, it is always interesting seeing how a company packages their watches and the materials they use in their watch boxes, what kind of image they are trying to portray through their packaging, how it ties in with their brand aesthetic or enhances their product. The problem is what to do with the box after the initial opening, it then becomes a tessellation tetris challenge to squeeze another box into an increasing congested box storage zone in the house… I am not an expert on watch rolls but I imagine that there is a full spectrum from something akin to a zip-lock plastic bag all the way up to a velvet lined, python skin lux version embossed with gold initials. The one included with the Boldr Venture is simple and utilitarian, very much in keeping with the rest of the brand. I could imagine the watch roll getting almost as much use as the watch, especially if you like to travel with multiple watches or meet up with other enthusiasts in order to discuss the minutia of watches.
So how would I wear it? I think this is a good solid grab and go quartz watch, a great weekend warrior choice. It has a water resistance rating of up to 100m, it isn’t a dive watch or boating themed watch but I can imagine wearing it in the water when kayaking (something I haven’t done in over a year) or when doing an obstacle course (something I haven’t done in over seven years) or camping (something I haven’t done in over a decade). Realistically I would be more likely to wear it when walking the dog, doing some gardening or going to a bbq but I am sure that if I was in the mood for something more adventurous it would be up to the job.
The Boldr Venture comes on a choice of “Jungle Green”, “Carbon Black” or “Adventure Khaki” premium nylon NATO straps. I went with the “Jungle Green” because I already have a few blue, grey, black and khaki strap options. The titanium hardware on the NATO strap is a perfect match for the watch. If like me, you like to change NATOs to match your outfit this is something to keep in mind. I think brushed or blasted steel hardware on a third party strap would be an okay, passable match, polished hardware, on the other hand, would be strikingly different and possibly detract from the overall look. I think the Venture will look great on a livid NATO or on a camo strap, I also think it can be dressed up a bit with a leather strap but it will not look as smart as a more traditional field watch case with smoother lugs.
That said, this is not designed to be a dress watch, it is designed to be a rough and ready field watch. Its place is not behind a desk, it is out in the world exploring and experiencing life, facing any trial you throw at it.
In conclusion, I think this is a handy tool watch, perfect for your weekend hobbies. It is understated and tough with its lightweight matte titanium case and flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal. It improves on some of the more traditional field watch niggles with regards to legibility and crown vulnerability while still being true to the overall field watch aesthetic. The Swiss quartz movement should keep it running accurately for three years, which is ideal for a grab and go watch. It is an adaptable strap queen that will look good on any number of NATO and military-inspired straps, making it easy to match with whatever outfit or activity you have planned. This is a fun watch, with a good spec, that at £118.99 doesn’t break the bank.