Field testing the Boldr Venture Wayfarer with a fossil hunt
Since childhood I have had a love of fossil hunting and what better way to test a new field watch than on such an expedition, accompanied by a very excited eight-year-old on her first hunt. My chosen location was almost 400m above sea level, so the watch would be guaranteed to face most November elements. This ranged from wetness to cold and the inevitable knocks while climbing around a mountainous and rocky ancient seabed. The exact hunting area is of Special Scientific Interest, so I feel duty bound to confirm that no collecting was done - the thrill was in finding gems from pre-history.
My time keeping selection for this trip was a newly released Boldr Venture Wayfarer Khaki, in every way the archetypal field or outdoor watch with a vintage military design.
A Bold Choice
As with all Boldr watches the fun starts with the presentation case which is a small copy of a legendary Peli-Case. It's a decent clone feeling suitably robust and no doubt will become very useful; indeed, much more practical than 99% of other watch boxes. The watch itself only takes up about 1/3 of the inner foam with the remainder given over to Boldr paperwork, stickers and the handbook. The cover for the paperwork is embossed with map contours – which nicely illustrates the minute level of detail undertaken by Boldr with the Venture series.
The Khaki weighs only 56g thanks to a 38mm aviation grade titanium case and NATO strap. It's very light when you first handle it but do not be fooled into thinking this translates to fragility. On the contrary, this is a robust 200m water resistant watch.
Taking a Closer Look...
High attention to detail continues across the dial. The white dial variant of the Wayfarer is particularly clear with the anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal being almost invisible. (Minimal reflection is the reason white dials are favoured by explorers of both the desert and the Poles.) The syringe hands are outlined in black allowing them to stand out proudly and the second hand is topped with a highlighted orange lume section which gives it a navigational instrument look. Raised black outline indices make legibility outstanding and the far edge of the dial has a clear minute track. The hands and indices are coated with green Japan Superlume which works well through the night.
Both the east and west on the dial present elements of interest. East is a date window, also black outlined, and to the left there is a separate 24 hour sub-dial. This dial is a well-placed traditional homage to explorer watches of old and does not move independently for a second time zone. It completes one revolution every 24 hours in parallel with the main 12-hour dial. Many years ago, it would have been an invaluable tool if you had no visual access to the normal lunar/solar cycle. It was critical to submariners, cave explorers and anyone near the Poles. Do we practically need such a dial now? In truth no, but it harks from a bygone era of exploration chronometers and is a thoughtful addition. The main dial itself is beautifully textured, reminding you of rough terrain. When the light catches it the effect completes what is overall a superb dial package with outstanding legibility.
Boldr's Case Construction
The case is extremely strong yet light due to the titanium construction. Many outdoor watches today have a penchant for polymer cases, but there is something special about knowing that your metal case is as strong as steel yet 40% lighter. Titanium has a high resistance to cavitation and erosion, making it a critical material for the aerospace industry. It is non-corrosive when exposed to both water and chemicals. It is anti-magnetic, non-toxic, and non-allergenic which makes it the ideal material for an outdoor or field watch.
Powering the Venture Wayfarer is a reliable Miyota (Citizen) automatic 21 jewel 8217 movement. This utilises the workhorse 8215 movement as a base and offers the additional 24-hour dial with a 40+ hour power reserve. Citizen’s proprietary PARASHOCK system gives reassurance that the watch will take some knocks. This technology dates from the 1950s and has spring-loaded mounting systems for the jewel bearings that support the balance wheel.
The case back features limited edition engraving of a large X, shaped by various Boldr and exploration related words.
The watch sits on a stiff tan NATO strap. It feels very robust and has a titanium buckle and keepers. On a single test day, I didn’t really get a chance to soften it however I see no reason why, with time and use, it will not become more flexible. It feels of a superior quality which makes sense given the effort that has gone into the watch.
Thankfully the expedition went well, and we were lucky. Our ancient seabed delivered and came alive as we found loose fossil shells, bivalve clams, and some plant stems (possibly crinoid). My niece and I had a perfect day which was the primary objective.
The Boldr also performed as expected and showed no ill effects from being exposed to some grim weather. The lack of weight made the watch a smart equipment addition and based on this test it can be highly recommended for any outdoor activity, particularly hiking or climbing.