Boldr’s Rally SRW – a driver’s watch with a hint of regatta timer?Borna Bošnjak
In the realm of the affordable chronograph, there is one sensible choice, and that’s a mechaquartz movement. Sure, there’s always the Seagull ST19 manual winding chrono, but this admittedly pretty movement can be temperamental, especially so in the watches where you can pick up for pennies. For those wanting a peace of mind, mechaquartz is then the way to go, and Boldr’s range of Seiko VK64-equipped chronographs are some of the most compelling out there. The Singaporean microbrand are champions of affordable titanium, offering a range of sporty watches with great specs that won’t break the bank. I spent a few weeks with the latest iteration of their Venture mechaquartz chronograph, the Boldr Rally SRW, released as part of a European summer trio that also includes the Venture Blue Fuel Jamie got to test out. This particular colourway actually tributes Sophie Rose Wells, the daughter of rally driver and Boldr ambassador Daniel Wells, becoming especially meaningful after his high-speed accident last year. While my time with it was much more pedestrian, I think I got the gist of what the Rally SRW is about.
Classic Boldr recipe
Clean, with a hint of motorsport inspiration, is how I’d describe the Rally SRW. For chronographs at the affordable end of the spectrum, there’s only so much a brand can do to prevent the dials from looking flat, and Boldr does a great job. Sure, it’s not a rich mixture of finishes one would expect for several times the price, but the stepped rehaut and sub-dial rings add a great sense of depth despite the Rally SRW lacking any applied indices. The running seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock is especially funky, summarising the watch’s entire colourway in three sections akin to a regatta timer.
But wait – that’s not all! Boldr also pack in some cool lume. The lume of the sub-dials does little in terms of utility, but it just looks plain cool, so a definite plus in my books.
Finally, we’ve got the titanium build. The case is nothing fancy, though it’s reasonably well-finished – certainly acceptable at this price and considering the premium titanium usually commands. A totally unexpected, but certainly welcome, feature is the Rally SRW’s water resistance – rated at 200 metres – making a little more sense of the regatta timer-like sub-dial.
On the smaller side
I wouldn’t say that the Rally SRW is overly vintage-inspired, though there are clear elements from 1970s and 1980s sports chronographs. The barrel-shaped case is certainly one of those, measuring in at 38mm in diameter and 44mm lug-to-lug. Combined with a thickness of 12.2mm, it makes the Rally SRW a great fit for smaller-than-average wrists.
And yet, the Rally SRW looks great on a bigger wrist too, especially when paired with the stock NATO-style strap that adds quite a bit of bulk in terms of height and excess strap ’round the back. Granted, to those who prefer their watches to wear big, the Rally SRW isn’t that, as its short lugs and relatively thin profile make for a compact presence on-wrist.
The money only goes so far
It’s crude to talk about money so much, but when a watch is priced this aggressively, it becomes an important component of its raison d’être. For the Rally SRW, there’s honestly quite little to complain about, but you do have to manage expectations somewhat. For me, that’s most clearly obvious in the strap. I love that even the loops and pin buckle are colour-matched titanium, but the strap of the fabric didn’t hold up to daily wear as well as I’d like it to. Having said that, that’s easily rectified by an aftermarket strap and the Rally SRW’s 20mm lug width.
We’ve waxed lyrical about the typical set of specs most Boldrs have. The Rally SRW is no different, sporting a compact titanium case, sapphire crystal and aforementioned Seiko VK64 movement. This makes for a compelling set of features for any affordable microbrand, but when you consider Boldr offers it at under A$500, it becomes really interesting. To put things into perspective, the MoonSwatch is only A$75 cheaper. I know which one I’d rather have.
Boldr Venture Rally SRW pricing and availability
The Boldr Venture Rally SRW is available from the Time+Tide Shop. Price: A$490
|Boldr Supply Co.
|Venture Rally SRW
|38mm (D) x 12.2mm (T) x 44mm (LTL)
|AR-coated flat sapphire
|Black with contrasting sub-dials
|Nylon NATO-style, titanium hardware
|Seiko SII VK64, mechaquartz chronograph
|Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, day/night indicator