#LookCloser – Boldr Watches – The Odyssey

Introduction 

Marshall

BOLDR Supply Co. is a relatively new lifestyle company conceived in a land very close to The Matick Blog’s home, namely the island city-state of Singapore. Founded by three gentlemen brimming with passion for great design with a purpose – Travis, Leon, and Isa, BOLDR is a little-known brand which I have come to respect in recent years.

The brand’s philosophy revolves around the idea of an active and adventurous lifestyle, championing a never-ending pursuit for adventure. Given my interest in urban exploration, these concepts resonate especially with me on a personal level, as they touch on things I can really relate to as well as appreciate.

About a month ago I had the opportunity to sit down for coffee with the co-founders of BOLDR – Isa and Leon, whom are now both good friends of mine. That occasion was also the very first time I saw a pre-production prototype of the Odyssey in the metal. Having witnessed the watch come to life from draft sketches, I was genuinely impressed with how far their designs had evolved and improved (you might remember the Voyage ‘clever’ watch, and the Journey Chronograph). That is, I actually quite like the overall design of the BOLDR Odyssey. Big props to the BOLDR team for coming up with a watch with a unique aesthetic as well as functionality, whilst retaining the key elements of the brand’s design DNA.

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Before diving into the review proper, I would like to say a big warm thanks to Isa and Leon on behalf of Team Matick for the opportunity. Without further ado, here’s a quick summary of my time with the BOLDR Odyssey.

*Note: Instead of regurgitating the Odyssey’s specifications (which you can find here), I would much rather use this space to express my own thoughts on the Odyssey, now that I’ve spent some quality time with it.

“Despite its somewhat quirky design, it possesses a very natural and organic vibe, never giving the impression of being forced.”

Marshall, on the Odyssey’s overall design.

Design and variations

The Odyssey’s design is clearly a big departure from BOLDR’s earlier conceptions, opting instead for a vastly modern styling in comparison to the vintage-inspired Voyage and Journey. Here, we have five different variants to choose from – Steel Blue as seen here; Ever Black with a DLC coating and White Storm with a white dial and an IP-Titanium bezel. I was also informed that the other two variants have some slight cosmetic differences, a Swiss STP1-11 movement, and a slight higher price tag (approximately $100 USD more) – the Steel Blue S, and the Meteo Black with a genuine meteorite dial.

From a holistic design perspective, the Odyssey possesses an instantly familiar aesthetic, one which can be found on any other proper dive watch. That is to say, the Odyssey bears all the requisite hallmarks of its kind – stainless-steel case, unidirectional bezel, water resistance, screw down crown etc. Despite its somewhat quirky design, it possesses a very natural and organic vibe, never giving the impression of being forced.

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Lucky for me, the guys at BOLDR lent me my favourite variation (Steel Blue) for this review. I am a huge fan of blue dials, and can be extremely particular when it comes to its execution. However, the Odyssey’s dial ticks all my boxes in this respect, befitting the watch’s namesake as well as its deep-diving DNA. You get all sorts of shades of blue, which give off subtle hints of the Odyssey’s deep-diving associations. Let’s not forget the dial’s other components and design cues as well – the orange seconds’ hand and white luminous markers make a great colour combination in the way they offset the deep blue dial, which also happens to contribute to its excellent legibility. You also have the date aperture positioned at 6 o’clock, which I think is a smart design choice as it keeps things symmetrical.

Lume

Like any proper dive watch, the Odyssey’s index markers feature extremely bright lume in the form of BGW9 Superluminova. BOLDR decided to utilise a combination of two distinct colours for the markers and bezel pip respectively: the bezel pip’s lume being blue, the index markers being green. The slight contrast between the two colours really makes the Odyssey visually stimulating, especially in dark conditions.

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Photo by BOLDR.

Bezel

A quick glance at the bezel reveals a handful of interesting geometric shapes – a series of furrows and ridges, almost like a cogwheel. Each layer is stacked in a manner juxtaposed against one other, creating a very strong and impressionable look which is instantly recognisable from afar.

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Aside from being aesthetically unique, this design also contributes to the bezel’s ease-of-gripping; the turns feel solid and just right, neither too tight nor loose. There was virtually zero play on the bezel and although I was not anywhere near a beach during my time with the Odyssey, judging from its solid operation and from what I was informed by the co-founders (whom hired a professional diver as part of the Odyssey’s photoshoot), I think we can all safely assume that the bezel would perform flawlessly under any conditions you’d care to throw at it.

Crown

This may come as a surprise, but one of my favourite features about the Odyssey was its ‘B’ signed Crown. It features a triple-lock mechanism, which gives the watch a perfect underwater seal. It also appears to be constructed of two separated bisections, allowing for a very comfortable and tactile feel to the fingertips. Somewhat amusingly, using the crown to set the time became an oddly satisfying activity. In short, the crown is a cool little detail which displays a meticulous and thoughtful touch from a design and pragmatic perspective.

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Movement

Powering the Odyssey is a no-frills Seiko NH35A automatic movement, featuring 24 jewels, a hacking mechanism and power reserve of approximately 42 hours.

The watch also features a double-domed, AR coated sapphire crystal and a whopping 500-metre Water Resistance (1650ft/50ATM). Another cool feature that I really appreciate about the Odyssey was its helium escape valve. For those of you who might not be in the know, the valve depressurizes the watch after deep-diving sessions, useful for serious diving at great depths for prolonged periods.

Flipping the watch over, you will set your eyes upon what appears to be a boat sailing on rough seas under a constellation-filled sky. According to Leon, this is custom design created by Melbourne artist Ashwin Royan, and to me, it aptly personifies the spirit of the watch: adventure and exploration of the unknown.

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On the wrist

I have a pretty small (6.75-inch) wrist, and with the Odyssey being 45.5 mm in diameter, I was totally expecting a massively oversized chunk of metal. Strapped on, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the Odyssey not appear to be overly imposing, it was in fact no different than some of the more modern pieces in my collection (Gruppo Gamma Bronzo at 45mm, Dietrich at 46mm).

In other words, I was completely happy with the size. This could perhaps be attributed to the Odyssey’s angled case and lugs (53mm lug to lug), which are designed such that they hug one’s wrist nicely and attenuate the bezel’s somewhat aggressive look too. These design features really help shave off a lot of that visual bulkiness while retaining the watch’s utilitarian flare.

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Final thoughts

BOLDR’s decision to make a dive watch as their follow-up to their Journey Chronograph is, in my opinion, a sound one. To me, a dive watch (like the Odyssey) is still generally the most practical choice of watch for people who just want to own one watch and call it a day. Of course, they’d have to be water/sweat resistant and made to withstand a generally high level of abuse, which translates to being able to survive conditions through which one might normally expect to put them.

I think we can all agree that the timing scale on any dive watch bezel will adequately take care of just about any real-world timing need. A fairly common example would be people like me using the bezel to time our laundry, how long I’ve procrastinated during revision time (true story) etc. BOLDR has really knocked it out of the park with the Odyssey – it’s just a unique-looking yet extremely practical watch that will probably outlast you – be it summer, winter, surviving a zombie apocalypse, abandoning a sinking ship, or might we suggest, some actual deep-sea diving?

On a more serious note, I had a solid month with the Odyssey and I believe that BOLDR has outdone itself with the Odyssey. It is without doubt, a watch which encompasses so well the principle of ‘Form following Function’. For a sub-$400 USD (Kickstarter early bird price is approximately $100 USD off the MSRP and depending on the variant) MSRP price tag, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more interesting yet practical watch at this price. We’re looking at a serious contender in this price bracket and a real value proposition in the form of the Odyssey, be it a diving watch, an everyday watch or even a vacation watch etc.

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From a personal perspective, the levels of dedication and passion exhibited by the BOLDR team to their craft is truly a gratifying sight to see. Being a 1/3 Malaysian company, BOLDR makes me immensely proud of being a Malaysian myself – I can only aspire for more local brands to do the same.

Their Kickstarter campaign is only several days away from concluding, so if you’re interested in the Odyssey, be sure to check them out on their website, and their Kickstarter campaign here for early bird pricing and more info.

Finally, a big shout out to PULP by Papa Palheta for letting us shoot on your premises.

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Once again, thank you for joining us in this installment of #lookcloser, we hope you enjoyed this little review and please do give us a follow on our IG page and stay tuned for more reviews and commentary from hereon. 

‘Til next time!

For Team Matick,

Marshall, Meor, Ken.

 

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