Anyone who is interested in watches has probably at some time entertained the idea of a smartwatch. Perhaps the Pebble, the first smartwatch to really catch any traction, or one of the more recent offerings like the Moto 360 or the Apple Watch. For people who like “traditional” watches (be they quartz or mechanical) the current batch of smartwatches mostly have one problem: their style deviates from what we are accustomed to. They tend to have an appearance that stands out as being a piece of technology rather than horology. New brand BOLDR Watches is hoping to strike the right balance between the traditional and the new with their BOLDR Voyage “clever” watch.
The team behind BOLDR started by launching a line of mechanical watches. The two longtime friends, Travis Tan and Leon Leong, started Travisleon Watch Company in 2014 making mechanical watches with their Heirloom collection based on watch designs from the 1950’s. Launching via Kickstarter the automatic watches are available now from their website for a reasonable $279-$299. The team’s next project was to take on the idea of a hybrid watch that takes the appearance of a traditional watch with technology packed under the dial. Rather than the current term smartwatch BOLDR is labeling the Voyage as a hybrid “clever watch.” They spent almost a year designing the custom internals for the technology side of the watch as well as perfecting the look of the Voyage.
The design of the Voyage is clearly from the vein of pilots and aviator watches. From the dot flanked triangle at 12 to the sword style hands and the numerals around the dial the influence of aviator and pilots watches is evident. The case has a diameter of 43mm with a lug to lug length of 48mm and the watch will take 22mm straps with the soldered lugs designed to have the appearance of fixed wire lugs. It will ship with a leather strap with quick release spring bars. The dial is a sandwich dial with the technology taking the lower layer. The dial will be available in six colors: classic black, vintage brown, military green, clean white, gunmetal grey and blue sky. Printing on the dial has the brand name at 12 o’clock as is traditional, with the logo, watch name and “Hybrid Quartz” above 6 o’clock. Additional numbers for 24 hour timekeeping are also marked around the dial. The watch is water resistant to 30 meters making it rain and splash-proof, as with most smartwatches today.
The time module is powered by the Miyota 2025 quartz movement (PDF specs). The movement has an expected 3 year battery life and is accurate to +/- 20 seconds a month. The absence of a seconds hand prevents the single-second tick that is disliked by some of those adverse to quartz. The BOLDR Smartmodule that controls the technology functions is powered by a separate battery that has a lifespan of up to six months. This gives the Voyage a leg up on most smartwatches that need to be charged daily. Even the Pebble has a seven day charge capacity which is at the top of the current smartwatch battery list. And a five pack of the CR2032 used for the Smartmodule will run you less than $3.00 on Amazon. The battery is accessed via an old-school coin twist compartment on the case back, a cool touch.
The “clever” part of the Voyage comes from the custom made Smartmodule. The features provided by this module are akin to those from other smartwatches, although displayed in a different fashion. The pedometer function will track your daily exercise goals like steps and calories burned. Around each hour number on the dial is an additional dash that represents the percentage towards your exercise goal. It starts at 0% at 1 o’clock and goes up in 10% increments each hour until 110% at 12. At a glance the progress towards your goal (set via the accompanying app) will be visible. Notifications are also available for calls, alerts and messages via the embedded LEDs and the built in vibration.
You clearly will not be able to read the notifications but will rather be alerted that one has come in. The watch will also provide a notification when you stray too far from your phone, preventing you from setting it down and leaving it somewhere. The Smartmodule also will acts a shutter for your smartphone. The BOLDR team also promises to continue to develop and provide new features for the Voyage as well. The companion app and the watch communicate via Bluetooth 4.0 and the app will be available for both Android and iOS.
The BOLDR Watches Voyage pre-sale launch will debut on Kickstarter on August 29th. The starting price during this time is a very reasonable $129. This debut of the watch will feature case back engraving for backers. The watch is expected to retail for $179 once it is made available after the Kickstarter campaign. You can visit the BOLDR Watches website for all the details and to sign up for their mailing list for the Kickstarter launch.