Hands-On With The New BOLDR X Kenji Chai ‘Chaigo Venture’

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Watchmaking and street art don’t seem a natural fit on the surface. Watch brands that have dabbled in this space before to varying degrees of success, but as a rule of thumb it would seem collaborations of this nature do best in the digital realm with brands like G-Shock. A new watch from Singapore based watch brand BOLDR Supply Co. is offering a new take on the genre with a new Venture done in collaboration with Malaysian graffiti artist, Kenji Chai. The watch is constructed of titanium, features art on the dial, comes with a toy, and it’s under $500. What’s not to love?

The Venture is a watch we’ve long appreciated with BOLDR’s collection, having spent time with the Automatic and the Field Medic and with each coming away impressed by the amount of value for the money. W&W even released its own LE within the Venture family that sold out the day it was released. The Venture Automatic is a great platform that prioritizes lightness and wearability along with a practical and straightforward dial design that borders on surgical in execution. The Chaigo Venture retains these values but brings a vibrant personality to life thanks to inspiration from the artist, Kenji Chai. 

Kenji has developed his style on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, finding recognition in recent years thanks to his colorful renditions of people and animals built from abstract shapes that blend culture and nature. His creation ‘Chaigo’ has become a signature character, based on the concept of a stray dog taking control of his destiny. This is the mark that appears on the dial of the Chaigo Venture, occupying much of the dial’s center with the word “Chaigo” tagged at 6 o’clock.

Elsewhere on the dial you’ll find light blue Arabic numerals at the cardinal hours and the hollow outlines of hour bars in between. Each is capped by circular outlines of the same color save for 12 o’clock, which uses a coral colored orange to accent the inner 24 hour track. The Chaigo head appears in black, done with just enough contrast to the grey surface of the dial. Large syringe hands can obscure the image at times, but more importantly they provide excellent legibility. The tip of the seconds hand gets a dab of coral red, as a final accent against the light blue minute hashes.

The angular titanium case is fully bead blessed in finish and measures a scant 38mm in diameter. The screw-in crown is positioned at 4 so this is an easy watch to get along with on the wrist. The 12mm case thickness is noticeable for such a small watch, but doesn’t get in the way thanks to the overall lightness. Likewise, the bracelet is titanium with a single point of articulation between each link, meaning there’s some stiffness that you may find off putting. 

BOLDR is using the NH35A automatic movement here, so all things considered this still represents a strong value for the $499 price tag. It’s a fully titanium watch limited to 160 units and comes with a hand-painted collector’s toy or figurine of the Chaigo character. It’s a nice detail that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the artist and the streetwear types alike. Just be careful with the hat, it’s magnetic and will be easy to lose. The watch comes packaged in a hard shell Pelican like container with the toy, and will include a nylon strap design designed by Kenji as well. 

The Chaigo Venture is available to order now through BOLDR Supply Co.’s webstore, and we’d encourage you to check out more of Kenji Chai’s artwork at his behance profile right here.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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