Hands-On with the Boldr Journey

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When Boldr announced their Journey chronographs several months ago, they were met with a lot of excitement and positive press. This led their kickstarter to be highly successful, bringing in over four times their goal at just over $100k. The reason for the success was simple, they designed a very attractive watch with a style that would appeal to both seasoned watch enthusiasts and newcomers and a price tag that was hard to argue with. Featuring a Seiko VK64 Meca-quartz movement and a massive domed mineral crystal, the Journey has a modest price tag of $259.

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But a low price is not impressive if the quality is low too, so I was excited by the opportunity to try this watch out. We were sent the PVD version, named the ‘Wasp’ due to yellow highlights. And I can say without hesitation that the fit and finish of this watch punches above its weight. Taking it out of the simple but sleek packaging it arrives in, the watch has an immediate feel of quality. It looks refined, clean and well executed. There’s something very, and I mean this in a good way, effortless about it, like its the thousandth watch of a company many times Boldr’s size… not the second watch of a micro-brand. If you told me Timex or another “big” brand made it, I wouldn’t be surprised… or maybe I would as it actually surpasses that quality.

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$250

Hands-On with the Boldr Journey

Case
PVD Steel
Movement
Seiko VK64
Dial
Black
Lume
BGW9
Lens
Domed Mineral
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
50M
Dimensions
43mm
Thickness
14.5mm
Lug Width
mm
Crown
push-pull
Warranty
yes
Price
$250

With a 43mm round case with wire lugs that’s 14.2mm tall, the Journey is large on paper but not on the wrist. It wears like a lugless watch, sitting nicely on top of the wrist rather than spanning over. The design itself is as simple as can be, just a rounded puck-shape with a case back, wires coming out and a huge domed crystal. The crystal is worthy of extra attention. Though mineral, it’s a gorgeous detail, coming up high over the case and creating some enjoyable distortions of the dial below. On the right side you have the chrono pushers and crown, which both consist of a wide platform on a slender post, which is aesthetically pleasing.

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The model shown is finished in all matte black. It’s not a super heavy blasting, still having a satin sheen to it. It looks good. The caseback has some interesting art etched in. You have various expected details, then a quote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. This is a nice touch, playing off of the watch’s name, but also just as a different approach to case decoration. Then, in the center things get a bit more abstract. You have criss-crossing lines behind a mountain range that is peaks on one side, and a city scape below. In the center is the classic series of silhouettes portraying the evolution of human kind… Yeah, it’s kind of heavy handed, but at least it’s something to look at.

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The dial of the Journey is sandwich-style with a bold design that draws on military and pilots watches. The top layer is matte black and the layer underneath is white/lume for high contrast. The primary index consists of large numerals for the even hours, save six to make room for the date, and rounded rectangles for the odd hours all cut out of the black surface. Around the edge of the dial is a printed white index with marks for the individual minutes/chrono seconds and 1/4th second marks. Because of the dramatic dome of the crystal, this index gets distorted, making it more of an aesthetic detail than a practical one.

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At 3 and 9 are sub-dials for the 24hr hand and 60-minute chrono counter respectively. They are both on the layer under the main surface, giving them a sharp edge and a drop down, and both feature concentric circles cut in giving them a slightly metallic sheen. On the surfaces are indexes in white featuring marks and numerals that are highly legible. Boldr made the sub-dials nice and large, but balanced with the rest of the dial. It all feels harmonious.

For hands, Boldr made the chronograph functions and 24-hr hand bright yellow tapering sticks that look great. They add a nice shock of color without over doing it. The hour and minute hands are then thin tapering swords in gloss black with lume fillings. They look fine, but honestly feel a bit too small. Given the style of the watch and the brands name, I was expecting hands with more impact. That said, I’m glad they are not Roman swords as that has just been over done, but something wider and “bolder” would have been welcome, especially since they are black on a black surface.

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The Journey comes mounted to a matte black nubuck 22mm strap with a straight cut and black stitching. It’s a nice strap, especially given the price of the watch. The leather feels decent, the execution is clean and it’s comfortable. I’m glad they went with black nubuck over a shinier leather as the finish plays off of the satin case. I was also glad to see they didn’t do something cheesy like use yellow stitching, as that would have been too much.

boldr_journey_wasp_wrist

On the wrist, as said before, the Journey wears very well and not as big as 43mm sounds. The wire lug case really diminishes the lug-to-lug measure/feel. It is tall, but the rounded sides and domed crystal shave a few millimeters off visually. More importantly, it looks great. It has a military/pilot sensibility but a far friendlier and more modern feeling. Everything is rounded and bold, so it’s not harsh or overly aggressive. The mix of textures on the dial and from the cut though surface add some needed complexity up close, and the touch of yellow just makes the watch pop a bit more. With casual clothes, the Journey fits right in.

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All in all, Boldr has made a very well-tuned and well-executed watch with the Journey. It’s simple, fun, stylish and well-priced. It reminds of other watches, say Shinolas, but is honestly more successful as it doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard and it’s not priced based on marketing. Sure, it’s a mineral crystal and not a sapphire, but I think that’s excusable at $250 for a crystal this shape, and in reality, minerals hold up just fine. The VK64 movement is a joy as always, giving you mechanical chronograph action with quartz precision and no ticking seconds. So if you’re looking for a fun watch with a pilot-ness to it, but not a teutonic flieger, or you’re looking for something stylish that isn’t from a mall brand, the Journey is a very worth considering.

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.

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  • I’m a sucker for color-accent hands, sandwich dials, domed crystals, and this shape of case and pushers…so ticks a lot of boxes for me. I swore I wouldn’t get another KS watch before the end of the year (I have a Nezumi on order thanks to W&W…). But I may have to pull the trigger on this one. The black with yellow hands is definitely the one to get IMO.

    • Travis

      Thanks Adam! Glad you like the watch. 🙂

  • Andrew Hughes

    I think that I might spend a year collecting cheap micro brands just for the fun of it. This one looks like the one to get. I am picky about lume so how does this one glow? A sandwich dial implies strong glow on the numerals and indices, but no guarantee. Doe the hands glow at all?