Watch Review Disclaimer: I am not a watch expert, horologist, or anything of the sort. I am a car guy and, like many others, my fascination with mechanics and the way things work has led to a fascination with watches. As such, when I write a “review,” I try to simply convey the impressions of a mechanically-inclined guy, in everyday use situations, unless otherwise noted. I simply hope my thoughts are interesting and/or helpful to you.
For better or worse, most of my watch purchases have historically been impulsive. I’ll be browsing through a forum or reading a watch blog (Two Broke Watch Snobs is a personal favorite) when I see a watch that I didn’t realize I was looking for – until I find it.
I don’t remember what I was reading when I stumbled in just such a fashion on a discussion about Boldr, a niche brand based out of Singapore. It actually may even have been a Facebook ad that prompted me to want to read more. Whatever the case, I clicked over to their site and started reading about a model they had just introduced: the Venture.
The more I read about it, the more I liked what I was reading. They billed the watch as a light, strong, accurate everyday field watch that is at home in any environment. Let’s run down some of the basic features that stood out to me:
- It is powered by Swiss-made ETA 802.102 quartz movement.
- It has a 38mm case made from “aerospace grade” titanium. The caseback is screw down and titanium as well.
- The crystal is sapphire.
- It has an easy to read face, with printed white markers over a matte black dial and Superlume hands.
- The crown is offset at 4:00.
- It is rated at 100m water resistance.
So it was small enough to fit on my narrow wrist, comfortable enough to wear all day, strong enough to survive a wide variety of physical activities, and accurate enough to never second-guess. It was one of those moments I mentioned earlier – I didn’t even know I was looking for this watch, but there it was.
The price has since settled at $149 (US), but at the time it was priced at an intro rate of just under $100. All of that for under a hundred? I decided to order first and explain to my wife later why I bought another watch.
So was it as perfect as I felt it would be in that magical moment? Well, let’s take a look.
Does it keep time?
In a word, yes.
One of the biggest selling points to me was the Swiss ETA movement. I also have a Bulova Accutron II that I trust enough to use as a gauge for how accurate my other watches are. I set the Venture off the Bulova when I received it in early December of 2018, and the two were still within 5 seconds of each other when I had to set them ahead for Daylight Savings. A quick glance at my Atomic Clock app confirms that both are keeping remarkably similar time.
Really strong marks for the Venture here.
Is it comfortable?
Here things start to come apart a little. Although the Venture is a nice, compact 38mm across, it is also 45mm from lug tip to lug tip. Although the lugs curve down to contour to the wrist, it feels really long to me – because, proportionally, it is.
On my wrist, this exhibits itself by sitting awkwardly on the supplied nato strap. Just to be sure it wasn’t the strap itself, I put a 38mm Seiko on the same strap and it cinched down very nicely. The Venture simply won’t sit comfortably against my wrist.
The fit and finish on those lugs is not especially good either. Although the watch is attractive overall, the inner lug edges look unfinished compared to the rest of the case. Running your finger over the case gives a similar impression, as the sharp corner feels abrupt and cheap compared to the rest of the watch.
Despite the lightweight feel and 4:00 crown, I do not find this a comfortable watch to wear.
Is it useful?
Boldr bills this watch as nearly indestructible. In fact, at the time I purchased it, their web site was boldly promising to replace the watch if you ever killed it. I no longer see that pledge on the site, but regardless, durability and ruggedness were clearly a focus when the Venture was under development.
On paper it should be very useful: titanium case; sapphire crystal; very respectable water resistance; durable, light-weight strap. It should be the everyday beater I was looking for.
However, to be useful, a watch has to be worn. I wanted desperately to want to wear this watch, but every morning I found myself wrinkling my nose and returning to one of my other, trusted choices.
The spec sheet on this watch is really strong. It checks all the right boxes for a watch that you can wear in literally any situation (except dressier occasions) and it features construction and materials found on much pricier offerings.
Maybe the main problem here was with me, but I found this watch to be uncomfortable. As I noted previously, I could not get it to snug down comfortably on my bony wrist, and I feel that the dimensional proportions are the primary reason. I strongly feel that this, along with the poor, sharp finish on the lug edges, let down what is otherwise a stellar watch.
That said, my buying experience was smooth, and the packaging and included materials were all top notch. It even came with a matching watch roll, which I found to be a remarkable bonus, especially given the price point. I would definitely be inclined to try another Boldr. The Venture, though, does not have a place in my collection.
Bottom line: An eminently functional watch that I never wanted to wear.
Status at time of writing: Sold to a friend. Update: The person I sold it to does a lot of field work so it worked out very nicely. I recently spoke with said friend and he “literally can’t take it off.” So take my experience with a grain of salt.