Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’ll be reviewing the updated Journey from homegrown watch label, BOLDR.
The original Journey was actually BOLDR’s first production model which debuted in 2016. According to BOLDR, “The Journey is based on the popular BOLDR Voyage concept, with a vintage, aviator-inspired design.” BOLDR has updated the Journey line with new designs (Corsair, Spitfire, Mustang) and improved specifications for 2018. I’ve previously reviewed BOLDR’s dive offerings – the Voyager and the Odyssey – so I’m excited to be reviewing an aviation inspired watch from them this time around!
BOLDR – the Brand
BOLDR is a brand that I’ve a close relationship with, as I’ve reviewed multiple watches from them till date. In fact, the Odyssey was the first watch I reviewed on this website! I’ve also reviewed the Voyager – a fantastic value proposition – a couple of months back. If you would like to learn more about BOLDR as a brand, do read my original review of the Odyssey here, in which I covered the brand story of BOLDR in detail!
BOLDR – Build Quality
For just a hair over $300 SGD (after promo code below), I would say that the build quality of the Journey is pretty decent!
Unlike its higher priced siblings that I’ve reviewed previously (the Voyager and Odyssey), the Journey unfortunately uses a high-dome mineral glass instead of sapphire crystal. As compared to sapphire crystal, mineral glass is less scratch-resistant. Due to the Journey’s low price tag, I find the usage of mineral glass understandable, especially considering that having a high-domed sapphire crystal would undoubtedly significantly increase the manufacturing cost (and therefore price) of the watch. Nevertheless, I hope BOLDR will consider the use of sapphire crystal in the next iteration of the Journey! I would gladly pay a tad more for the added durability that sapphire crystal brings. Elsewhere, the WR rating of the Journey is stated as 50M, which is fine by me considering the fact that it is advertised as a aviation-inspired watch.
The VK64 Seiko movement powering the Journey is one I have looked at a couple of times now, with it making an appearance in several other affordable chronographs such as the UNDONE Urban/Tropical, and the Reverie GT. For those uninitiated with mecha-quartz movements, a mecha-quartz movement basically allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – the accuracy (and affordability) of a quartz movement (which also negates the need to wind the watch), and also the sweeping second hand that’s characteristic of a mechanical chronograph. With the Seiko VK64 movement, you get the capability to instantly reset the chronograph by pressing the bottom pusher. As the Journey does not have a running second hand, there’s absolutely no indication at all that the Journey is actually quartz!
The strap on the Journey is decent for the price. It’s not a travesty like the leather strap on the Stoic I recently reviewed, but it doesn’t blow my mind either. The strap is comfortable on the wrist, in large due to the fact that it’s thick enough to complement the watch. In more affordable watches, the straps tend to be on the thinner side in order to cut cost (a thinner strap uses less material and thus cost less), so I’m pleasantly surprised by the strap’s bulk here! In addition, unlike the leather strap on the Stoic the lining does not feel cardboardy. I wouldn’t say that it feels premium (this isn’t a lambskin or nubuck lining), but it is at least comfy on the wrist. However, I find the strap loops too thin and flimsy – it tends to get caught whenever I try to slide the strap through, and I’ll face a hassle trying to untangle it. Definitely an area for improvement!
The BOLDR Journey utilizes Swiss BGW9 Superluminova, which results in an green glow when the lights are off. Due to the Journey having a sandwiched dial, the lume is shines brightly in the dark. Pleased to see strong lume present here, even at this price range!
All in all, I find the build quality of the Journey decent for the price point. For its asking price, you get a mecha-quartz movement, a above-average (for the price) strap, and strong Swiss lume. That being said, I do feel that the next iteration of the Journey should feature sapphire crystal – even the lower priced BOLDR Explorer has been updated with sapphire crystal!
BOLDR Journey – Design
Definitely, the fresh design of the Journey is its main calling card.
I find the blue sunburst dial on the Journey captivating, although I must preface this by stating that I generally love anything that’s blue. I love the way the blue dial plays with the light, and it’s really quite something to behold on the wrist. In addition, the silver chronograph dials are sunburst as well, resulting in a dial that really shines in the light. I also like the concentric grooves of the sub-dials as they add further texture to the dial. Furthermore, as aforementioned the Journey features a sandwiched dial. This, coupled with the slightly recessed sub-dials and a date window, adds the presence of depth to the watch. All in all, the dial of the Journey is one chock-full of both texture and depth.
I love the usage of orange hands in the Journey. It injects a tinge of sportiness and casualness to the watch, as well as a bit of colour contrast. The font choice for the numerals remains (as compared to the original Journey) bold, which makes sense given the context of the Journey being an aviation inspired (where legibility should be key) watch. Also, I really like the little detail of framing the date window in white. Given the white text on the dial, as well as the usage of a white printed minute track, framing the date window in white achieves the effect of drawing the wearer’s attention to the date when necessary, whilst still allowing the date window to blend seamlessly with the rest of the dial. Lastly, the box mineral glass, combined with the wire lugs, showcases the Journey’s vintage inspiration, which I absolutely adore.
The case of the Journey is matte-finished, as are the pushers and the crown. I personally believe that the muted finishing of the case makes sense, as it offsets the sunburst texture of the dial. If the case were to feature polished/bevelled/satin-brushed finishing, it might have been overkill. The uniformly matte finish of the case also undoubtedly reduces the manufacturing costs of the Journey, contributing towards its affordable price-tag. Lastly, we do get a simple signed crown as well, which is a nice touch at this price point. If I were to nitpick however, I would have preferred for the pushers of the watch to be more pronounced – currently, the pushers feel a bit flimsy, in part due to their relatively small size.
The new edition of the Journey also features an updated artwork by tattoo artist (Kelvin Tan), who also did the original artwork for the first edition of the Journey back in 2016. This time, the artwork depicts a man embarking on a path, with a skyline of mountains and skyscrapers in the background. The illustration is paired with the quote “The journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step” – this quote can be found on the caseback of the previous iteration of the Journey as well. Obviously, there’s a strong link between the artwork and the quote to the watch (which is literally named Journey), so I must applaud BOLDR for their creativity in “zhnging” the caseback of the Journey. Personally, I believe that BOLDR’s watches have the most interesting casebacks out of all the microbrands I’ve covered thus far – I love how every watch features an artist’s illustration of something relevant to the theme of the watch!
I definitely find the overall design of the BOLDR Journey to be well-thought out. I can personally see a tad of “fashion watch” design in the Journey, but it stays true to its vintage aviation inspiration. It’s a casual, fun watch – but there’s certainly nothing flippant about it.
Shootout: BOLDR Journey vs AVI-8 Flyboy Chronograph
When I think about affordable, vintage inspired aviation timepieces, the first brand that comes to mind is AVI-8. AVI-8 currently has a mecha-quartz offering in the Flyboy Chronograph, which will be the BOLDR Journey’s competition in this shootout!
In terms of build quality, both watches are pretty neck-to-neck. Both watches uses mineral crystal and the Seiko VK64 mecha-quartz movement, though the Journey does have better lume due to its usage of Swiss BGW9 Superluminova.
From a design perspective, both are obviously significantly different. The AVI-8 Flyboy’s dial is very vintage inspired, whilst the Journey looks much more modern. Which watch appeals more to you will probably rest upon the vibe you’re going for. That being said, I do have to say I prefer the dial of the Journey, due to the presence of texture in its various sunburst-finished components, as well as additional depth with its sandwiched indices. Furthermore, I absolutely adore the wire lugs on the BOLDR Journey – an aspect I’m surprised the AVI-8 Flyboy didn’t adopt! As such, I believe the Journey to have the edge over the Flyboy chronograph, especially when factoring in its caseback artwork.
Both watches are priced very similarly, with the Flyboy Chronograph having a retail price of $225 USD (~307 SGD), while the Journey would set you back just ~$236 USD (~$323 SGD) after the promo code below. Ultimately, I believe both watches to be good bang-for-buck – which watch is better for you probably depends on your stylistic tastes. If you love all things vintage, the Flyboy Chronograph will be a good pick. Otherwise, the Journey is, in my opinion, the more versatile and contemporary option.
Conclusion: so the BOLDR Journey “shiok” or not?
For the most part, yes. It has decent build quality for the price, as well as an eye-catching design. I especially loved how the Journey is able to look modern, whilst still paying homage to its vintage aviation inspiration. In my opinion, BOLDR is gunning for a slice of the millennial pie here – in other words, the “fashion watch” market – with the Journey. In contrast to the Odyssey or the Expedition, the Journey isn’t aimed at watch enthusiasts. Its target demographic is likely those that would buy a watch based upon the design, and in that regard, I think BOLDR has succeeded with a visually attractive offering at an affordable price. Nevertheless, the WIS in me still long for sapphire crystal here – hopefully the next iteration of the Journey will implement that improvement!
For those interested in getting one for yourselves, simply use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy 10% off! After the discount, the Journey can be had for just $236 USD/$323 SGD, which I think is a great price for a mecha-quartz chronograph. The BOLDR Journey is certainly a fun watch to wear on the wrist – a perfect accompaniment when letting your hair down during the weekends!
Also, I would like to compliment BOLDR on their newly redesigned webpage – it’s much better than the previous iteration, in my opinion!
View BOLDR’s full collection here.
BOLDR Journey Specifications
- Movement: SII VK64 Meca-Quartz
- Case Material: Marine-grade Stainless Steel (Brushed)
- Case Size: 43mm
- Case Thickness: 14.2mm
- Case Back: Twist-in case back with Laser-etched limited designer artwork
- Dial: Sunburst Blue Double Layer Sandwich Dial. Sub-dial with Disc-Track texture. Swiss BGW9 Superluminova
- Lens: 4.5mm Scratch Resistant Dome Mineral Glass
- Strap: Premium Italian Blue Calf Leather with matching stitching
- Water Resistance: 50m / 5 ATM
- Warranty: 2 years
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!