Hello everyone! This week I’m stoked to introduce Bólido’s second watch project, the Bolido Black Edition – it’s currently live on Kickstarter! As of current time of writing, the project has already garnered almost $140K SGD of funding.
Bólido’s sophomore Kickstarter project consists of 3 models: the Pure and the Halo, priced at $395 CHF/ $538 SGD, and the Core (pictured above), priced at $595 CHF/ $811 SGD. Bólido’s first Kickstarter campaign raised over $140,000 CHF, with many backers citing the brand’s unique case design and minimalist, clean dial as the main attractions. How does the “Black Edition” series fare? Let’s take a closer look.
Bólido – the Brand
Bólido was founded last year (2017) by the duo of Pierre Nobs and Simon Husslein. If their names seem familiar, it’s because both have had vast experience in the watchmaking industry before! Mr. Pierre Nobs has been by described by SJX as a “design star” and Revolution as “one of the 20th century’s design greats”. The critical acclaim is largely due to his work at the now defunct Ventura watches, which he founded in 1989. Known for their avant-garde, pioneering design on digital watches, the brand unfortunately eventually ran into financial troubles in the last decade, and now no longer exists. Meanwhile, Mr. Simon Husslein -the other half of this duo- plied his trade at the prestigious Studio Hannes Wettstein in Zurich, designing watches for a number of prominent brands such as Nomos Glashutte (a brand I absolutely adore, with the exception of their recent Autobahn watch), Braun, as well as Ventura!
Early last year, perturbed by what the new “Swiss-made” regulation would do to the prices of “Swiss-made” watches, Nobs called up Husslein to see if they could offer 100% Swiss-made watches at an affordable price point. Nobs was grabbed by the idea of using automatic lathe machines instead of traditional case products methods to produce watches in Switzerland, which would lower production costs. As such, two design greats teamed up thereafter to achieve this vision – and Bólido was born.
Nobs and Husslein named their brand “Bólido” after the Spanish word for meteor. Akin to a meteor, the duo hopes that Bólido would be “A luminary that crosses between the somewhat immovable fixed stars of established brands on the watch firmament. A timepiece with surprising qualities at a completely un-Swiss price.” Their vision is to create a “new breed of watches”, “one that matches [their] perception of architectural design and functionality.” I have to say – I’m really, really impressed by Bólido. To offer 100% Swiss-made watches at their price point (395 CHF) is already insane – to offer them with such detailed design and unique case construction is simply mind-blowing. Honestly, in my opinion their watches blow similarly priced offerings from Tissot and Hamilton out of the water. Don’t get me wrong – Tissot and Hamilton make well-built, Swiss-made watches – but their watches firstly aren’t 100% made in Switzerland, and secondly none of their watches (at the ~400 CHF price point at least) are innovative in their design or construction. I truly applaud Bólido for bringing innovative watches at such a truly affordable price point. You won’t find this statement on their campaign, but to me Bólido is one of the rare few Kickstarter projects who can truly claim that they are making luxury “affordable”!
Without further ado, let’s dive into their current Kickstarter offerings.
The Bólido Pure and Bólido Halo
The Bólido Pure and Bólido Halo are essentially two different color variants of the same dial design. They are both priced at $395 CHF / $538 SGD currently.
Husslein’s design touch is obvious here. Having designed for both Braun and Nomos, the Bauhaus styling is especially evident in the Pure. The watch is minimalist and clean but not boring – something I absolutely adore. The indices are really interesting, radiating out of the center sector dial – I don’t think I’ve seen such design cues before actually! This sounds dumb, but the styling reminds me of the sun, which seems appropriate to me, given the celestial provenance of Bólido’s name. Meanwhile, the fact that the watch is Swiss-made is proudly proclaimed at the bottom of the dial. I like the red contrast on the second hand – it adds a pop of much needed colour to the watch. In addition, I love that the watch has depth in spades. The raised center disc, combined with a raised minute ring surrounding the dial, adds dimension to the watch. Lastly, I also appreciated how the date window is so inconspicuously incorporated.
If you find the Pure too boring for you, there’s the Halo! I’m sure the Halo will be a hit amongst the younger crowds, though I personally prefer the looks of the Pure – perhaps I just have an old soul. Also, I should point out that Bólido went to great pains to ensure that their watches will fit a wide variety of wrist sizes. This is because the distance between the axes of the two spring bars that holds the strap underneath the case is only 32mm. Regular gentlemen’s watches of comparable size have a typical spring bar axis distance of 42mm or more. As such, despite their relatively large dimensions (43mm in width), Bólido watches should be able to fit gentlemen with smaller wrist sizes, even women!
The Bólido Core
While the Pure and the Halo are extremely nice watches, the Core is undoubtedly Bólido’s flagship model this time around.
In my recent review of the Zelos Avant A-4, I wrote that it is rare of microbrands to produce affordable (sub-$1000 SGD) skeletonised watches due to the sheer amount of effort designers have to put into the watch to ensure that the skeletonisation of the watch turns out aesthetically pleasing. As a fan of mechanical watches, I love to see the beating of the movement inside – that’s why almost all of my watches (excluding divers) feature exhibition casebacks. Skeletonised watches takes the “exhibition” a step further, by opening the dial in order to let wearers see the the beauty and ingenuity of the mechanical marvel within.
In the Core, Bólido uses a STP 6-16 movement, which seems to be a special skeletonised variant of the STP 1-11. I personally have not come across this movement in other watches before (if you guys have, do let me know) – if in fact the Core is the first watch to house this movement from STP, that would truly be something special that makes this watch a steal at its current pricing. The movement has also been regulated by Bólido in 5 positions for greater accuracy.
It goes without mention that I have to highlight the (literally) award-winning case of Bólido. A ton of thought has been poured into the watch, and it shows. Firstly, adding a second rotative axis not only tilts the face of the watch to facilitate time-reading in situations like car-driving, it also increases the case height at the top of the dial to allow the integration of a large winding crown in an unusual but well protected position. Most watches feature the crown at 3 o’clock, which though convenient, expose the watch to accidental impacts that impairs water resistance. Tilting the case also allows Bólido to mill an inconspicuous notch into the underside of the crown tube, facilitating the winding and time-setting of the watch. Having the a crown that is hard to wind is one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to microbrand watches, so I’m really happy that Bólido had paid close attention to what seems like an insignificant detail.
The tiny screw on the caseback is the principle nub in Bólido’s innovative monocoque case construction. It allows for a watchmaker to pull out the crown stem with a special tool. When done so, compressed air will blow through the hole to eject the sapphire crystal of the exhibition caseback, allowing for the retrieval of the watch movement for servicing. Bólido states that developing and perfecting this mechanism took over a year and countless prototypes – that’s pretty insane for a mechanism that largely flies under the radar!
Another one of my Kickstarter/microbrand watches pet peeves is stock “genuine leather” straps. In many of my reviews, I’m highly critical about the straps that comes on the watches – it’s something I consciously look out for. I always advise you guys to look out for “vegetable-tanned, full-grain leather”, but Bólido have kicked it up a notch by offering a handmade, exotic Ostrich leather strap as an add-on. Rembordé on the sides and hand-stitched with a tone-on-tone-thread, with the lining made of finest box-calf, this sumptuous strap immediately “zhngs” the Bólido watch! It is also fitted with quick-release spring bars for easy interchangeability with the stock caoutchouc strap provided. A similar handmade strap would likely cost around $200+ SGD. I highly recommend adding the extra 65 CHF / $90 SGD for the handmade Ostrich strap. Like their watches, the strap is simply a steal at its current price point.
I highly encourage watch-lovers to back Bólido on their Kickstarter campaign. Honestly, I’ve not been this blown away by a Kickstarter campaign since the Arcturus Lion City 1. You’re getting great design (by two accredited watch designers), great build quality (100% Swiss made, customised skeletonised movement – if only in aesthetics – and a handmade Ostrich strap), all at an honestly unbelievable price! I previously said that the Zelos Avant A-4 was my pick for the best skeletonised watch under $1000 SGD, but the Bólido Core sure gives it a run its money. If the skeletonised dial of the Core is too showy for you, the Pure and the Halo also presents a tremendous (if less visually exciting) value proposition.
I applaud Nobs and Husslein for ensuring that the same amount of detail they paid to the design of Ventura/Nomos watches, they paid to Bólido. Not all established watch veterans who tried to make the step down into making affordable watches delivers the same amount of thoughtfulness in their products – Baume watches are testament to how tepid “affordable” watches can be, even with experienced watch veterans at the helm. I think Bólido has something really magical going on here – hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on one for an in-depth review later this year!
For those interested, do view Bólido’s Kickstarter campaign here. At this point of writing, there’s only about 10 days or so left on the campaign, so act fast if you like the watches!