Hi guys! Sorry for the hiatus – I’ll be more frequent (looking at a weekly basis) from now on. I’m looking to turn this blog into one that focuses on value offerings in men’s fashion, specifically on watches and occasionally shoes. For now, I’m going to try to make WahsoShiok professional, so expect to see a stark increase in quality of articles, photos, website layout, etc soon! I’ll also be creating social media channels for this blog soon, so if you like my content do follow on those channels (FB/Instagram) 🙂
As this is Wahsoshiok’s very first watch review, I’ll be explaining my criteria/what I look out for and how I determine whether a watch is worth it for the price:
- I’ll examine the brand itself – does the brand have a clear identity/watchmaking history, and clearly thought-out product lines?
- I’ll inspect the quality of components used in the watch, and how solidly the watch is built.
- I’ll be appraising the watch design – does the watch have a original design that’s striking, or does it rip off designs from more established companies and pass them off as “homages”?
- Finally, I’ll be comparing the watch to others in the same price range to see how it fares.
In this website’s very first “Shiok or not” article, we will be looking at a dive offering from BOLDR, a homegrown watch and accessories company with a focus on the spirit of adventure. BOLDR has been kind enough to lend me their BOLDR Odyssey (MeteoBlack) for review – let’s find out if the watch is worth it for the price ($599 USD)!
But first, let’s take a look at the story and history behind the brand.
BOLDR – The Brand
“To take the first step in an adventure you have to be bold. To continue, you need to be bolder.” – Leon Leong, co-founder of BOLDR, when asked about the inspiration behind the brand name.
BOLDR advertise themselves as “… a brand of activewear for the urban adventurers around the world, connecting people through the spirit of adventure.” (I took this from their website) The company was founded in 2015 by co-founders Leon Leong, Travis Tan and Isa Ghani, and first made headlines for their highly successful maiden kickstarter campaign, the BOLDR Voyage.
The BOLDR Voyage was meant to be a smartwatch paired with classic aviator looks, but unfortunately the project was scrapped after certification and supplier costs spiraled out of control. What impressed me though was that the BOLDR team didn’t just stop there and give up after an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign. Instead, they repackaged the Voyage’s aviator design cues into their first watch, the BOLDR Journey. True to their name, they emboldened themselves with the lessons that they have learnt – to me, that speaks of a highly motivated and determined team.
Unlike other watch companies in this price range (ahem, Invicta, Sturhling Original), BOLDR seems to have paid detailed thought into their product lines of watches. The Journey is their aviator offering, the Explorer their military/field watch, and the Odyssey their dive product. I love that they cover air, land and sea in their adventure-themed watch lines! But are BOLDR watches (for the purposes of this review, the Odyssey) built tough enough to withstand actual adventure, or are they tool watches in name only (like Panerai, who for all their diving history, offer watches with a mere 30m of water resistance)?
BOLDR ODYSSEY – Build Quality
I’m glad to say that the Odyssey is a real divers watch. The build quality of the BOLDR Odyssey is simply outstanding for the asking price – it’s extremely robust. It’s clear from the offset that the watchmaking team at BOLDR invested significant time and attention behind the components chosen.
Internally, this version (MeteoBlack) of the Odyssey comes with a Swiss STP1-11 automatic movement, with self-winding and hacking mechanism and 44-hour power reserve. The STP1-11 is a relatively new automatic movement from the Fossil Group, and is seen as an alternative to the ETA 2824. At the price point, a Swiss automatic movement is a welcome touch. In my experiences with it, the watch gained an average of 4-5 seconds a day, which is more than perfectly fine with me. (That’s close to COSC-certified movements!) The seconds hand sweep is smooth as well. However, cheaper variants of the Odyssey comes with a Japanese Seiko NH35A instead, which is also self-winding, hacking and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
Externally, the bezel is DLC (Diamond-like carbon) coated. The result of this is that the matte black coating on the bezel of the Odyssey is more scratch resistant than it’s counterparts, which tends to use standard PVD (Physical vapor deposition) coating instead. Furthermore, the 120 click unidirectional dive bezel here is quite excellent. When rotated, it provides a highly satisfying click action, and there’s little to none backward play.
For the lens, the Odyssey utilizes a double-domed sapphire crystal with Anti-Reflective coating. The sapphire crystal ensures that the watch is virtually scratch-proof (as compared to “hardened mineral glass”), while the AR coating reduces reflection and increases light transmission so that the color and texture of the dial becomes more visible. The case is made of 316L stainless steel, which is fast becoming the norm in the watch industry.
You guys know I’m a rather clumsy person. I have on multiple occasions knocked the watch against doors/tables/walls and the Odyssey has emerged unscathed. No need to worry about scuffing the Odyssey when you’re out and about – the watch is literally tougher than nails! It’s certainly tougher than me anyway.
In addition, the Odyssey also features a TRIPLE lock screw down crown. For the uninitiated, divers watches tend to use a screw down crown instead of the usual pop-out crown – a screw down crown seals the crown to the case of the watch for enhanced water resistance. While most divers watches in the sub $1K segment tend to have a twinlock crown (which is usually only rated up to 300m water resistance), the Odyssey uses a triple lock screw down crown, boosting the watch’s water resistance to a whopping 500m! Traditionally, triple lock crowns are only found dive watches with a much higher price tag. For example, the Rolex Submariner, arguably the most iconic dive watch ever, features a triple-lock screw down crown. The fact that the $599 USD Odyssey shares key features with the Rolex Submariner (a five figures watch) is mind-boggling. The caseback is a single piece screw down one as well, thus providing further water-resistance. The watch also feature a special helium escape valve, ensuring that the watch stays strong even when under immense water pressure. While these upgrades probably won’t matter in everyday usage (unless you’re planning on searching for Atlantis in your free time), the fact that BOLDR chose to include features that tend to only be found in high-end divers shows their commitment to what the Odyssey is supposed to represent – a true divers watch.
The black leather strap that I had with the watch is comfortable on the wrist, and is embossed with BOLDR’s emblem both on the strap as well as on the buckle. The cross stitches pictured above is a nice aesthetic touch. The black strap also pairs well with the black face and bezel of the watch. Furthermore, the leather strap supposedly features waterproof coating, in keeping with the diver nature of the Odyssey. However, I do feel that the default strap that the Odyssey came in is the weak link of the watch, the chink in the armor. Don’t get me wrong, the strap is of good quality – but BOLDR knocked all other aspects of the watch out of the park. A vegetable-tanned, FULL grain Italian leather strap here would have completed the home run. I didn’t have the chance to interact with the polyurethane dive strap, so I can’t comment on the quality of that particular strap.
The indexes, hands (even the seconds hand), and bezel tip all have Superlume, so legibility in the dark (or murky waters) shouldn’t be an issue. Telling the time in the dark was a breeze.
BOLDR ODYSSEY – Design
While the quality components of the Odyssey won over my head, it is the originality of the watch design that has captured my heart. Far too often, divers watch tend to copy the design of the Rolex Submariner (think Invicta pro divers, even Steinhart Ocean ones), passing them off as “homages”. In my opinion, “homage” is a mere euphemism for imitation, a rip-off. I detest companies with unoriginal designs, those whom copy the designs of iconic watches almost wholesale and simply replace the logo with their own. Where’s the effort in that?
The Odyssey undoubtedly looks and feel like a dive watch, but have somehow managed to not look like any other dive watch currently in the market – which is a feat in itself. It’s an incredible design achievement by BOLDR, comprised of the accumulation of little details each playing it’s own role in making sure the watch looks and feels unique.
Firstly, the bezel. Divers watches often copy the numerical bezel of the Rolex Submariner (perhaps the most iconic dive watch out there), but here BOLDR has opted for the usage of raised portholes on the bezel instead of numbers. The bezel is a nice brushed matte black. Overall, I just love the unique look of the bezel – it’s certainly something I have not seen on a diver’s watch to date. The nautical feel derived from the raised portholes is a genius touch.
Secondly, I am absolutely obsessed with the meteorite dial. I love the distinctive look of the Widmanstätten pattern – the different textures of the dial is truly breathtaking to behold. The combination of bold lines, dark and light textures of the dial makes the Odyssey MeteoBlack stand out from other divers in it’s price range. Furthermore, the usage of the red-tipped seconds hand is a nice touch as well, giving the Odyssey a bit of a vintage feel. In addition, I find the date placement at 6 o’clock to be well thought out – most divers put the date (often with cyclops lenses) at 3 o’clock, again probably a design derivative from the Rolex Submariner. All in all, I find the watch-face of the Odyssey extremely well composed and conceived, with the meteorite dial being a visual stunner.
Thirdly, I love the angular, octagonal design of the Odyssey’s case. It’s just so visually striking – it looks fiercer, bolder. The polished finish on the case is a treat as well. Due to the way the angled case concave into the lugs, the watch actually seem to sit smaller on the wrist. At 45.5mm wide in diameter, the Odyssey is a rather beefy watch – but the way the case is designed seem to offset the bulk a little. On this note, I should mention that this is a rather heavy watch, and took me some getting used to initially.
BOLDR really went the extra mile here with the caseback. Instead of the usual engraving of a fish/helmet/boat that one tend to see on dive watches in this price range, the Odyssey showcases a detailed artwork engraved at the back! The artwork looks elaborate and intricate – it depicts a ship sailing out at sea, with various celestial bodies and constellations above. What’s interesting is that the engraving is raised and with depth, giving the artwork a 3D feel. Superb attention to detail here, and definitely unique.
The crown is also signed with BOLDR’s logo, which is a nice touch. Love the gear-shaped design of the crown as well – seeing that this is an automatic watch (in fact, BOLDR’s first automatic offering), the design seems fitting.
For the MeteoBlack variant of the Odyssey, sales are limited to only 100 pieces. In fact, at point of writing, the MeteoBlack version of the Odyssey already sold out 🙁 However, if you are tempted to get an Odyssey after reading this review, I’ll recommend the Odyssey Steel Blue, which is available for pre-order at a bargain price of $299 USD! I’ll touch more about that variant at the end of the article.
BOLDR ODYSSEY vs HALIOS SEAFORTH
The BOLDR Odyssey is a great watch in it’s own right, but how does it compare against other divers in the same price category? Here, we will be comparing the Odyssey against the Halios Seaforth, one of the best value-for-money divers under $1000.
The Halios Seaforth has garnered a lot of attention in recent months due to its strikingly minimalist looks as well as its relatively affordable price tag of $675 USD. (And also due to Hodinkee writing an article on it) In fact, sales for the Seaforth have been overwhelming, with the watch selling out within minutes online whenever a batch is made available. Think of Halios as the Xiaomi of the watch industry.
Compared to the Odyssey, the Seaforth does have a more classic, versatile design. At 41mm wide and 12mm thick, the Seaforth is significantly less bulky than the Odyssey. The bezel, with little gear-like teeth, gives the Seaforth added character. Personally, I prefer the minimalist, understated looks of the Seaforth over the Odyssey. Nevertheless, I do feel that the Odyssey holds its own well, especially with it’s unique meteorite dial and engraved caseback artwork. Design wise, I would call it a draw – it depends on whether you prefer overall cleaner looks, or bold, interesting design features.
However, if we are to look at components, then the Odyssey wins hands-down – even though it is significantly cheaper than the Seaforth ($599 USD vs $675 USD). The Odyssey (MeteoBlack variant) houses a Swiss automatic movement from STP, while the Seaforth utilizes a rather pedestrian Miyota 9055 movement. The Miyota movement is respectable, but it isn’t Swiss – and to some, that makes all the difference. Furthermore, the Odyssey has significantly higher water resistance than the Seaforth (500m vs 200m) due to it’s host of water-resistanting features. As such, I do believe that overall, the Odyssey represents greater value as a dive watch as compared to the Halios Seaforth, making it the winner in this match-up.
Conclusion – So the Odyssey “shiok” or not?
Yes, it is. The Odyssey is superbly well crafted, and boasts a bold, original design. At $599 USD, it’s bang for your buck as well – you’re hard pressed to find a better or more unique diver at this price point. However, at this point of writing, it is currently sold out on BOLDR’s website. Which brings me to my caveat…
While the MeteoBlack varient of the Odyssey represents great value at $599 USD, it is admittedly still a fair bit of money to spend on a watch. The Steel Blue variant however, at just $395 USD (after promo code below), is simply a STEAL. At half the price of the MeteoBlack, the Steel Blue edition retains most of the features that the MeteoBlack offers, with just two key differences. It lacks the meteorite dial of the MeteoBlack, and has a Seiko NH35A movement at it’s heart instead of the Swiss STP movement. Would I pay double the price for a (admittedly fancy) meteorite dial and Swiss movement? Not likely. The NH35A movement is an incredibly reliable workhorse, and like true automatic movements, is hacking as well. You won’t be missing out on much with the Steel Blue variant of the Odyssey, and at $395 USD (or roughly $517 SGD), it’s one of the best built/designed watches I’ve seen at S$500. It’s definitely better than the entry level Seiko or Orient divers you see in this price range.
Whether you’re looking for a true diver watch, or just a sturdy, reliable everyday watch, the Odyssey (Steel Blue edition specifically) reigns supreme in the $500 category. If you’re interested in getting one, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” entitles you to 10% off all products store-wide! So head over to their e-store here now!
View BOLDR’s complete collection here.
P.S – the BOLDR Expedition
I would just like to mention that BOLDR in the midst of launching their second field watch, the Expedition, on Kickstarter! The Expedition features a Swiss Sellita SW200-1 automatic hacking movement with Diashock protection (shock resistance protection), as well as a double-domed sapphire crystal lens with underside AR coating. The Expedition comes in 6 different variants, each named after famous mountains in keeping with BOLDR’s spirit of adventure. The specs reads great, and the watch looks amazing in photos. At the Kickstarter price of $539, the Expedition looks to be great value for your hard-earned money. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to try it out and review the Expedition in the near future!
And that wraps up my first ever watch review on this website! A huge shoutout to BOLDR for being kind enough to lend me a $800+ SGD watch to a relatively unknown personality (me). I have really grown attached to the watch during the week that I had it for, and it pains me to have to return it 🙁 Big thanks to Joel for helping me take photos for this article (if you wanna see more photos, the Flikr link will be down below), as well as Yong Kang for helping me revamp the website. I hope you guys enjoyed the content, and comment below to let me know what you guys think! Hopefully more reviews will come soon 🙂
P.S.S: You can click on the photos for an enlarged image!