BOLDR Explorer II GMT (Review) + short interview with co-founder

Today we will look at another brand that I wanted to review for some time now, but finally I got one in for a review and I’m also looking forward to reviewing more of their watches as I’m very impressed with the one that we are looking at today. The company is called Boldr (Boldr Supply Co.) and the watch that we are taking a look at today is the Explorer II GMT with grey dial and strap. The Boldr Supply Company is based out of Singapore and Malaysia, run by co-founders Travis, Leon and Isa. They are in the business for quite some time, but only recently started to make these robust tool watches. Before I tell you more about the watch, let’s talk with the Boldr co-founder Leon a bit:

1.) Introduce yourself?

Leon, an avid outdoor enthusiast and co-founder of BOLDR.

2.) What started your watch passion?
The amazing mechanical movements that are powering these watches!
3.) What makes a good wristwatch to you?
Functional design with materials that are tough enough to last.
4.) Do you have watches from other brands?
I have given all them away, except for 2 sentimental watches that I still keep, a G-Shock that accompanied with me in my Army days, and an Alba my grandma gave it to me when I was 7 years old for my birthday.
5.) Who is your ideal customer? 
Someone who appreciates well designed watches and perhaps the outdoors as our products are built to last and are for adventurers of many kinds.
6.) Tell about what you like to do outside of watches? Where do you find inspiration for your work? 
I do rock climbing, and often find inspiration in my hikes and climbs.
7.) How do you see Boldr watch brand in future?
A brand by the community for the community, and never stop making products that are tough enough for your everyday adventures.
8.) Besides the Expedition and Voyager, are there any new watches coming out this year? Or maybe have some ideas? 
We are currently planning to have an overhaul redesign of our signature BOLDR Odyssey model. We’ve got some other plans but they’re hush-hush for now!
9.) Is it hard to be a microbrand? What was the hardest part when building your watch company?
Building and managing relationships with our wearers around the world and our stockists.
10.) Any suggestions to people who would like to make their own microbrand watch? 
Form a team who believes in your crazy idea. There’s an African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

So let’s dive into the review. The watch that Boldr sent me is the Explorer II GMT. The Explorer II came in a cardboard outer box and the inner box is a hard zipper bag which is handy when you travel. Inside you will find instructions and warranty. Pretty basic packaging. The first impressions when I unboxed the watch were great. It feels very robust and represents everything that a tool watch needs to be. I really liked the grey dial colour and how it works with red accents on the dial.

The case is made of 316L stainless steel, the case machine work is done pretty well, all the edges are sharp and all the lines are straight. The case is bead-blasted with matte finishing (PVD-IP) and the top of the bezel has sunray brushed finishing. The finishing is done quite well, although I think that bead blasted matte finishing isn’t suitable for a tool watch that will get scratches and nicks. The case diameter is 42mm, the thickness is 12mm, from lug to lug it measures at 50mm and the lug width is 20mm. The watch has a good size, but in my opinion, the lugs are a bit too long, if the lugs would be a bit shorter it would have that smaller watch feel. When I first took in hands the Explorer II I thought that it is 40mm big. The bezel is pretty good, it has GMT 25 hour marking on the bezel which is engraved. The bezel is super easy to grip due to gear like grips, and also the action is great too. It has zero play and the clicks feel great when you turn the bezel. Only problem I found with the bezel was that it has no lume, at first I thought the arrow on top of the bezel is lumed, but it isn’t. On the right side of the case, we have a crown with crown guards. The crown is signed and is screw down. The crown has a nice action and is pretty easy to operate with. The solid screw in case back is stainless steel but with polished finishing with limited edition Boldr Explorer artwork which has this some kind of map on it, also you will find the specifications written on the outline of the case back. On top of the dial sits a sapphire crystal with AR coating which is a nice touch. The water resistance on this one is strangely only 5ATM (50M).

The dial is matte grey. Around the dial goes a white minute track. The hour markers on 3,6,9,12 are lines, but the other ones are Arabic numerals. The hour markers and numbers are lumed. At 6 o’clock we have a date window, I actually like the position as it looks symmetrical this way. I hate when watch companies put date windows at 3 o’clock, it kind of ruins the symmetry of the dial. At 12 we have The Boldr logo and under that the name of the watch. The tapered hour and minute hands are white with black outline, the inside of the hands is lumed. The second’s hand is thin with small arrow end that is also lumed. The GMT hour hand is red and I like how the cour works with the grey dial. It just makes it pop. The GMT hands are also lumed. The lume is quite great as you can see from the lume shot, but it doesn’t last that long as for example on my Seiko Orange Monster or Ginault Ocean Rover, but it is enough for everyday use.

The movement in Explorer II is the Swiss made Ronda 505.24H which is the 24h with 2nd hand (GMT Function). I’m actually quite disappointed that they went with a quartz movement. I actually also can’t understand why then it couldn’t be 40mm in diameter. But anycase I thought this one has a mechanical movement inside, then it could be a perfect GMT watch, even if the price would be twice as big. Anycase this Ronda movement is quite good and reliable. It is one of the most commonly used movements in most of the watch industry. The average battery life in these is 2-3 years. The strap that came was a grey canvas strap, it has this vintage/worn look to it, but it suits the watch perfectly, I also tried it on a red leather strap which I think works with the red accents on the dial. The strap is quite stiff at first but after the wear in period, it gets supple. The inside of the strap is lined with tan leather. The tang buckle is stainless steel with the same bead blasted finish just like the case of the watch.

Overall I really like the watch, yes it has some things I don’t like which are the non-lumed bezel, the low water resistance rating and the quartz movement. But there is no perfect watch, you will always have things that you don’t like. But the overall package is great, you get a nicely machined case, sapphire crystal, Swiss movement, travel case and good design for just 229$ which is great. I have also been following this company for years and I like the direction they are going with the design and everything, I especially like the Odyssey watch with the bronze case.

Price: 229$ @ 

  • Movement: Ronda 505.24H
    • 24hrs with 2nd hands (GMT Function)
  • Case: 42mm Marine Grade Stainless Steel Case, Screw-down crown
  • Caseback: Custom screw down case back with limited edition BOLDR Explorer artwork.
  • Case Finishing: Bead-blasted matte finishing (Stainless Steel / PVD-IP)
  • Bezel Finishing: Sunray brushed (Stainless Steel / PVD-IP)
  • Crystal: Sapphire Crystal with AR Coating
  • Case Thickness: 12.5mm
  • Lug to Lug: 50mm
  • Lug width: 20mm
  • Strap: Vintage canvas with genuine nubuck leather backing + quick strap change mechanism
  • Water Resistance: 5 ATM / 50M

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