MICRO MONDAYS: The Boldr Venture Sandstorm might be the best value titanium watch on the marketThor Svaboe
Yes, it’s a very bold opening line. In fact, this is no boldr (sorry!) than a simple statement of the facts, should you sum up the parts, starting with a titanium watch with 200m water resistance for under $300 USD including shipping. Boldr Supply Co. is an established microbrand with five watch lines, and a solid community following of their watches and accessories for the self-categorised Urban Explorer.
The two questions you’re likely to ask yourself: How is it possible to have a stock model in titanium with a low might-never-happen-Kickstarter project price? Is the compact field watch that is the Venture, worth more than the sum of its parts, or is there a caveat?
If I stack up the specs first, you are going to check the date for April 1st, I can assure you. So, let’s start with the case being titanium. In this price bracket you’ll find a host of decent microbrands in steel, some with Chinese catalogue cases, and rather large for 2020, quartz powered, or having a vintage diver vibe. None of this applies to the Venture, a small, modern, minimalist field watch, with the bonus of a confidence-inspiring and dive-ready 200m WR. Those details alone constitute value for money.
The case has a sharp 38mm cushion shape in a blasted finish, with that recognisable darker titanium hue. The finish lends it a soft touch and is refreshing for 2020, without the usual vintage cues. The smooth bezel runs almost parallel to the case sides in the centre, with the case sides themselves having a well-thought-out design with a bold, contemporary flared bevel. A signed crown positioned at 4 o’clock is more typical for a diver, which here lends another layer of comfort to the stubby case. At this small diameter, the thickness is noticeable at 14mm, which makes it look slightly odd from some angles, but gives it a tough no-nonsense appearance. The next surprise is that behind the nicely decorated titanium caseback sits an automatic movement, not quartz. You are left wondering which calculator Boldr used for the costs, probably the one I use when telling my wife the value and shipping cost of a new watch I’ve ordered …
The Venture comes in four colours. This version has a fresh white face with sharp printed numerals, and the typical field watch touch of an extra inner circle of numerals for 24-hour readability. The dial is busy, as the crystal is only 31mm in diameter, but the printing is nice and sharp. The only classic touch is the sharp black syringe hands, with Japanese cream-coloured lume, like the lume plots outside the 12. The visage is kept crispy clean with the absence of a date window, and my favourite is the seconds hand. At this price you’d expect stamped metal with a vague polish, but the seconds hand is painted black, has a fresh orange square lollipop with cream lume and a needle tip.
Movement and strap
The beating heart is the king of microbrand movements, the Seiko NH35. A solid workhorse that is fairly accurate – some run COSC-close out of the box, but that’s depending on the luck of the draw. The one on my arm proves the point by being -3secs after a day and a half, and that’s a win. The NH35 is cheap to service, but with the risk of an environmentalist bashing, I’ll concede that a brand new movement is even cheaper. The short lugless case sits comfortably on the factory beige NATO — the details here are impressive, as the titanium hardware actually matches the case — and has a thick weave. On the shots here you’ll see it’s a strap monster, whether you’re a NATO fan or want a more of a diver-like feel with a tropic or a single pass paratrooper. It wears super light – perfect for a long trek in the Norwegian woods … hey, it’s a field watch!
So, let’s tally up the specs. For USD$299 you get blasted titanium on a decent NATO, with titanium hardware. The Venture has an automatic movement and is ready for the water with a useful 200m WR. Yet this gets even better. The crystal is sapphire with a decent AR coating. No downsides here, save for the fact that it’s a bit on the chubby side, but that only toughens up the image. To me, this is a fit-and-forget perfect beater for everyday wear, as a present to someone who is just learning to appreciate the wonderful world of horology, and sits on the verge of out-Seikoing Seiko. If this is the way value for money is heading at the lower end of the scale, the interest in wristwatches has a golden future, a future that is mechanical, and tough as nails.
Boldr Venture price and availability:
The Boldr Venture is priced at A$490, available from the Time+Tide Shop.