Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Singaporean watch review! This Sunday, I’m reviewing the BOLDR Voyager from homegrown watch brand, BOLDR.
BOLDR bills the Voyager as a “diver watch which combines vintage style in a modern, minimalist design.” I previously reviewed the BOLDR Odyssey here, which is BOLDR’s other dive offering. I loved the BOLDR Odyssey, and found the build quality superb – let’s find out if the Voyager carries the torch well!
BOLDR – the Brand
BOLDR was actually the first brand that I’ve ever worked with, with the Odyssey being the first watch that I’ve reviewed. It’s no exaggeration to say that without Leon and BOLDR, this website probably wouldn’t have existed! I will always be grateful to BOLDR for taking a leap of faith and lending me the Odyssey to review, and to Leon for pushing me to write watch reviews.
I’ve actually covered BOLDR as a brand in detail in my review of the BOLDR Odyssey – you can read the article here!
BOLDR Voyager – Build Quality
The BOLDR Odyssey till date possesses one of the best build quality I’ve seen in a watch, and I’m glad to report that though the Voyager isn’t exactly manufactured to the same exacting standards (therefore the lower price point), it’s no slouch either!
According to BOLDR, “The Voyager’s key feature is a 42mm Marine Grade solid brass case, which will develop a patina with wear – creating a unique design and texture that’s coloured by your adventures. This watch was designed to celebrate the many adventures you’ll have in life, and lets you wear them proudly on your wrist.” Ever since the launch of the Tudor Black Bay Bronze in 2015, bronze/brass as an exotic material in watches were all the rage, with this trickling down into the microbrand world as well. I like the use of brass here – it achieves the look and patina of bronze at a lower price tag. Despite being only $269 USD (after promo code below), the Voyager also comes equipped with sapphire crystal coated with AR coating. This is a huge plus in my books, as sapphire crystal greatly increases the scratch resistance of the dial. Given that BOLDR watches (especially the Odyssey) are engineered to be tough and robust, I’m happy to see that same dedication to durability being paid here at a lower price point.
I’ve covered the Seiko NH35 in several of the previous watches that I’ve reviewed. It’s a workhorse movement, reliable, and generally seen in more affordable watches. Some specs: 21600 vibrations per hour, 42 hours power reserve, 24 jewels, and is hacking. Being a diver watch, water resistance is 200M, achievable in part due to its dual-lock screw-down crown and screwed on caseback. The 120 click unidirectional bezel meanwhile is made of stainless steel, and provides decent rotational response – though I definitely preferred the turning action on the higher priced BOLDR Odyssey I reviewed earlier.
The default zulu strap with the Voyager is very nice. Not only is the strap comfortable on the wrist, I like the fact that the strap loops are made of brass too. This means that the loops will patina alongside the watch case, accentuating the aged, battle-scarred feel of the watch. The pantone of the blue strap is very close to the shade of blue for the bezel and the dial as well, a detail that pleases me immensely. However, given that this is billed as a diver’s watch, I find it a bit peculiar that BOLDR neglected to include a waterproof strap option (rubber/silicone), as they did with the Odyssey. Of course, at this price perhaps it’s a bit too much to expect two straps, but I still find it odd that BOLDR doesn’t even offer a waterproof strap option (20mm lug width for the Voyager) available on their website for additional purchase! That being said, aftermarket 20mm silicone straps are easy to find online for cheap – Nomad Straps offers them for as little as S$10 SGD.
Being a sandwich dial, the “Old Radium” superlume on the Voyager shines bright, though the luminous bip (on the bezel) is rather underwhelming in brightness.
Overall, I find the build quality of the Voyager great given the price point. For a mere $269 USD (after promo code below), you get a brass 200M automatic diver featuring AR-coated sapphire crystal, strong lume (the dial at least), and a nice zulu strap with complementing brass strap loops. All that, for only $40 USD more than the retail price of a Daniel Wellington. ‘Nuff said.
BOLDR Voyager – The Design
I think BOLDR pulled off the design of the Voyager rather thoughtfully!
I think that the dial is stunning. The dial is a matte dark blue sandwich dial that just draws your attention in completely. I think the choice of a sandwich dial is a visually interesting one, and adds depth to the dial. The hands are made of brass as well, which I find a nice touch. In keeping with the design ethos of the brand, we get the signature BOLDR red-tipped syringe second hand here as well. Furthermore, I like the gilt minute track – not only does it complements the brass case and hands, it also adds a level of class and vintage vibe to the watch. Also, the numerals deserves a shout-out as well. I find the font chosen here rather unique – someone mentioned to me that the “6” resembles the BOLDR logo! I’m not sure if this is accidental or intentional, but it is definitely intriguing aesthetically. All in all, I’m a fan of the dial. It’s the kind of dial that I like – minimalistic and clean, yet chock-full of details when you peer closer.
On the case-side, we get a nicely embossed BOLDR crown. In terms of both visual and touch, it’s very similar to the one that’s on the BOLDR Odyssey. As I said in the review of the Odyssey, the crown reminds me of a gear – symbolic, given the mechanical movement inside that powers the watch. The brass case of my Voyager is beginning to patina nicely, adding a rugged character to the watch. Given what BOLDR stands for as a brand (adventure), I find the use of brass in the Voyager and bronze in the newer Odyssey a genius touch as it really illustrates the spirit of both the watches and the brand. Also, I need to mention that the coin-edged bezel feels rather nice to the touch as well – I find myself often subconsciously using it to file my nails!
Unlike the rest of the watch, the caseback is made of stainless steel. This is because brass/bronze leaves a green residue when it oxidises, which some people’s skin might be allergic to. As such, most brass/bronze watches feature stainless steel caseback. On the caseback of the Voyager, you will find useful information printed, as well as an intricate artwork. Again, this is a signature BOLDR design aesthetic – all of BOLDR watches feature an artwork of some sorts. As far as artworks goes, I find this relatively more detailed and intriguing aesthetically than the usual shark/helmet/ship imprinted on the back of diving watches. Not only is it nice to the touch, I like the contrast in texture and finishing on the caseback as well. The central medallion (on which the artwork is featured) is slightly raised, featuring a coin-edged side. On the medallion itself, one sees a contrast in finishing, with an brushed outer ring as well as an matte central one where the artwork is ultimately depicted. I love how intricate the case-back as a whole is – the case-back is an area where most watch brands neglect, but it’s clear that BOLDR has put great thought into this department.
One of the oft-repeated criticism of the Voyager that I keep hearing/reading is that it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Tudor Black Bay Bronze. While there are some visual similarities, I do believe that the Voyager’s design is strong enough to stand on its own. Firstly, the bezels are different in their designs (lack of numerals and more pronounced teeth on the Voyager). Secondly, the indices on the Tudor Black Bay Bronze are applied, while on the Voyager it is sandwiched. Thirdly, the font of the numerals used are starkly different as well. In addition, the hands on the Black Bay Bronze are Tudor’s iconic snowflake hands, setting them apart from those on the Voyager. Furthermore, the crown of the two watches are visually distinct on the two watches. Finally, despite being only 1mm smaller than the Tudor Black Bay Bronze, the Voyager wears considerably smaller on the wrist due to shorter lugs. Due to all these reason that I’ve mentioned above, I think it’s a huge disservice to the Voyager to dismiss it simply as a Black Bay Bronze homage. I’ve worn both watches interchangeably over the past week, and I personally believe that they both look and feel distinct from each other.
All in all, I’m a big fan of the design of the BOLDR Odyssey. With both the dial and the caseback full of subtle details, the watch definitely belies its $269 USD (after promo code below) price tag.
BOLDR Voyager vs Helson Shark Diver Brass
Helson is perhaps one of the foremost microbrands for divers watches, and thus the Helson Shark Diver Brass is my competition for the BOLDR Voyager today.
In terms of build quality, I would say that the Helson Shark Diver is better built. While they both use the same Seiko NH35 movement and feature sapphire crystal, the Shark Diver has a mind-boggling 1000M of WR (as compared to 200M on the Voyager) and features a titanium caseback. The high WR rating on the Shark Diver is made possible in part due to the presence of a Helium escape valve, a feature seen in the BOLDR Odyssey but not in the lower priced Voyager. As such, the Helson Shark Diver would probably be the more rugged watch.
In terms of design, I have to go with the BOLDR Voyager. I find the design of the Shark Diver a tad uninspiring, with a lack of contrast in finishing and depth. Essentially, the Helson Shark Diver looks pretty similar to the other diving watches out there – the hands even look similar to those on my Undone Aqua! In contrast, I find the dial of the Voyager more intricate due to the sandwiched numerals and indexes, as well as the red-tipped syringe second hand. The case-back on the Voyager is definitely much more aesthetically pleasing than that of the Helson Shark Diver as well (which merely depicts imagery of a shark).
In terms of price, the BOLDR Voyager is significantly cheaper as well at only $269 USD (after promo code below). Both of these watches are great, just in differing ways. If you’re looking a solid dive watch, the Helson Shark Diver with it’s 1000M WR and helium escape valve should withstand the trials and tribulations of your underwater adventures. However, if you are like me (and I suspect majority of people who buy dive watches) and would probably not bring your watch to anything more than a dip in the pool or the beach, I believe that the BOLDR Voyager is the better choice. It has the more intriguing design, is significantly cheaper, and at 200M WR is no slouch either in the water. As such, I sincerely believe that the BOLDR Voyager presents a better value, especially those eyeing a desk diver!
Conclusion: so the BOLDR Voyager “shiok” or not?
Without a doubt, yes. It’s a really well-built watch for its price, and features an minimalist but intriguing design. Yes, the Voyager is probably not the most rugged dive watch out there, but for those who like the looks of a dive watch and will probably never take it diving (like me), the Voyager will do more than fine in everyday life. In addition, the patina on the brass case of the Voyager adds character to the watch as time goes by!
I’m happy to announce that I’ve collaborated with BOLDR to offer exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers – simply use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off storewide! At $269 USD/ ~$355 SGD, I’ll say this – you will be hard pressed to find a better looking and built diver at this price. I sincerely believe that the Voyager offers tons of value for your money, so if you’re interested do order one from their web-store here now!
- Case: 42mm Marine Grade Solid Brass
- Bezel: 120-click unidirectional dive bezel, with luminous bip
- Movement: NH35A automatic movement, with self-winding and hacking mechanism and 42-hour power reserve
- Water Resistance: 200m (660ft) / 20ATM
- Winding Crown: Dual-lock screwdown crown with custom embossed BOLDR logo
- Dial & Hands: Dark Blue Matte sandwich dial with and custom brass hands, both with “Old Radium” Superlume
- Lens: Double dome sapphire crystal with AR-coating
- Strap: Custom Zulu-Style NATO strap with custom solid brass buckle
- Case Thickness: 13.5mm
- Lug size: 20mm
- Lug to lug: 48mm
- Case Back: Single-piece screw down with engraved limited edition designer artwork
P.S: The bronze Odyssey is now available!
Ever since I’ve covered the BOLDR Odyssey in this website’s maiden watch review, I’ve had a soft spot for it – I believed that for the price, it represented best-in-class build quality. When I heard that BOLDR was reintroducing it in bronze, I was so stoked! The Odyssey looks tremendous in bronze, especially with the new green dial. I love that the crown is bronze too, a detail some brands neglect on their bronze watches. There are also now functional markings on the bezel, negating one of the criticisms of the original Odyssey.
That’s a stunner, innit? If you guys are interested, do read my original review of the Odyssey here. The aforementioned promo code (WAHSOSHIOK) is also valid on the bronze Odyssey, which would make them only $602 USD after discount! At that pricing, I do believe that it is the most bang-for-buck bronze diver available in the market. For comparison, Helson’s bronze offerings starts at $1299 USD – that makes the bronze Odyssey less than half the price! Really good value for a tremendously built watch – if you’re interested, you can order one from their web-store here.
- Case: 45.5mm CuSn8 Bronze Case with brushed finish
- Bezel: 120-click unidirectional dive bezel in bronze with elapsed time function
- Movement: Seiko NH35A automatic movement, self-winding and hacking mechanism, 42-hour power reserve
- Water Resistance: 500m (1650ft) / 50ATM
- Winding Crown: Triple-lock screw-down crown with custom embossed BOLDR logo
- Dial & Hands: Circular-brush dial with 3D-Printed Indexes and custom hands with Swiss Superlume.
- Lens: Double dome sapphire crystal with AR-coating
- Strap: Premium Horween leather strap AND natural rubber dive strap
- Thickness: 14.2mm
- Case Back: Screw-down caseback with embossed limited edition designer artwork
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S If you like my content, do consider donating a small sum! After much consternation I’ve decided to remove Google ads from the website so as to give viewers the best reading experience possible. An average review here garners about 1000 views – if everyone just donates a dollar, it would go a long way to maintaining this website! The donation link can be found here.
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre