The Boldr Odyssey GMT - Ultimate Field Test
Recently, my good friend Richard at WatchGecko gave me a Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT to play with and said, “Do your worst!” Well, what could I say? But before we get down to finding out if it really does cut the mustard, let's get the initial impressions, along with the vitals out of the way.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT in the field - Credit Don Russell
Introduction to the Odyssey GMT
The watch was delivered in a functional, black, 'Peli' type case. Unclipping the duel closures and lifting the lid revealed the GMT in all its glory along with the associated paperwork, all very well presented and protected. Also included with the watch is a Druber FKM rubber strap that fits the case profile perfectly; both the bracelet and the rubber strap are quick-detachable requiring nothing more than your finger and thumb to swap.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT in green - Credit WatchGecko
The case is S316L stainless steel as one would expect and listed at 44mm, although I'd say that 45mm is closer to the mark. Lug-to-lug is 53mm, lug width is 22mm and the overall thickness comes in at 14,6mm. The domed sapphire crystal has a multi-layer, anti-reflective coating and is distortion free in all but ridiculous angles. The Freediver also has a screw-down, exhibition caseback with 'wave' artwork that offers a glimpse of the rotor along with a little of what's going on inside. The substantial crown is screw-down, 8,5mm in diameter and has the Boldr logo in relief. Water resistance is 300m, but more about that later. The weight on my digital kitchen scales came in at 197g on a full bracelet and 132g on the Druber FKM rubber strap. I think that just about covers it, and now that we've done the basics we can take a look at some of the more interesting stuff before we get it dirty!
The Miyota cal. 9075 movement
The beating heart in this one is the Miyota cal. 9075, a 24 jewel, automatic GMT with a beat rate of 28,800 vph (4Hz), often referred to as a hi-beat. Strangely, it has uni-directional rotor winding, but so has the Valjoux 7750! The downside of uni-directional rotor winding is that you can sometimes hear the rotor spinning in its freewheel direction; it's quite noticeable with the 7750 in my ORIS TT1 Diver Chronograph, but in the Freediver it's nowhere near a prominent when worn. A quick visit to the timegrapher revealed that this particular specimen was running at +5 seconds/day with a beat error of 0.1m/s in the dial up position. The Miyota cal. 9075 is what's termed a 'true' GMT, meaning that the hour hand jumps as opposed to the GMT hand. A 'true' GMT is really the one to go for, as you can change the time-zone without the need to stop the movement and lose the time setting. It also makes perfect sense, as it's preferable to have the time where you are (local time) displayed on the normal hand-set, with the GMT hand displaying your home time. A third time-zone may be tracked by using the 24 hour rotating bezel in conjunction with the GMT hand. All adjustments are silky-smooth and precise.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT engraved display case back - Credit WatchGecko
The rotating bezel
The ceramic, bi-colour rotating bezel in black/red is a joy to behold and, as all ready mentioned is graduated to offer the tracking of a third time-zone. Unusually, the rotating bezel is uni-directional and has 120-clicks; the norm on many later GMT watches being bi-directional and 24-clicks. The bezel's outer edge has 12 equally spaced 'scallops' that are not only visually pleasing but also offer no-nonsense operation. The rotation is smooth and crisp, with a clean spring-back if turned slightly too far; there is no slack or back-play whatsoever when in position. The alignment of the bezel insert is also bang on; this attention to detail always impresses me, although I know that it shouldn't!
Boldr Odyssey freediver GMT - Credit WatchGecko
The crown is one of the best I've seen in a long time. It's screw-down as one would expect on a 300m, dive capable watch, but the grip is exceptional and the visual appearance really suits the watch. It's an absolute joy to operate and when pulled out to adjust the time it's exceptionally rigid; in addition to that, an extra O-ring on the crown stem ensures that everything nasty stays on the outside. There's a good length of thread on the screw-down and it starts without hesitation on completion of any adjustments. All very good, which, on the whole, seems to be the general trend with the Freediver GMT!
300m and not a diving watch?
I've written about this before and it's not all about the depth! Although the watch has not been designed specifically as a diving instrument, it's certainly more than capable. The fully lumed bezel insert is graduated to enable a third time-zone to be followed; however, it's also uni-directional and may, with a little care, be used for diving. Look on the 300m depth rating more as an assurance of the toughness and, as such, a good indication of the hardship that the watch can endure, be it above or below the waves.
The vast majority of tool watch enthusiasts, of which I confess to being one, tend to slobber at the thought of a good showing, and it's not unusual for even the dog to turn its back in embarrassment! Well, be warned! I suspect that the lume is Super-LumiNova BGW9 but I can't find confirmation of that. A nice surprise was that after a quick charge the lume didn't 'flare' as is so often the case. Everything was crisp, sharp and instantly readable when climbing into bed; a trip to the bathroom seven hours later (it must be my age) revealed that the time was still easily readable. We've all had watches that light up like a Christmas tree for ten minutes or so, but this one goes the distance!
Boldr Odyssey freediver GMT impressive lume display - Credit Don Russell
So! Who is it actually aimed at?
You could argue that the Freediver is a 'jack of all trades and master of none' and you'd not be far off the mark. With that said, who would have a need for such a 'dog's dinner' of a watch, so to speak? The adventurer/explorer! This elusive beast travels extensively, making a tough GMT the obvious choice. Harsh conditions are part and parcel of the job, with treacherous river crossings, mud, sand, sweat, ice, snow, tunnels, spiders and snakes often being just another day at the office. The GMT hand can be set to local time so that it tracks the Sun, each click of the 120-click bezel equates to 3 degrees, making it an excellent navigational tool; in an emergency this can be used as a baseplate compass directly from the map. The lumed hands, hour markers and bezel graduations make working in reduced light conditions much easier and the uni-directional bezel adds the inherent safety should some basic diving need to be undertaken. For deep cave exploration the GMT offers the time in 24 hour format, the only way of determining night and day on multi-day underground explorations. So what initially seemed like a bit of a 'dog's dinner' is quite the opposite! Yes, it is a 'jack of all trades', but in the right hands it can quite easily become master of them all!
Out and about
We've covered the boring stuff and now it's time to see if it's a king or a camel! I know that others will go out of their way to break something that they've been asked to review but that, in my opinion, is meaningless and offers very little in the way of information. The watch needs to perform as a tool without any special treatment whatsoever; it must endure all types of weather, normal knocks & bangs, immersion in water, mud and sand etc., but it doesn't end there! The watch has to be wearable, and that means not wandering about all over the place when moving quickly over rough terrain, it means keeping accurate time under all conditions, it means being comfortable after 30 hours on the wrist, it means being able to read the time at a glance in the pouring rain, the list goes on and on. Let's take a look at how it went on.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT in the wild - Credit Don Russell
This 16km route on muddy trails and gritstone edges in the Peak District will tell you if a watch is wearable or not! Past experience suggest that bracelets never hold a watch in place properly when doing stuff like this; it's nothing to do with the quality of the bracelet, it's just the 'nature of the beast' you might say. I fitted & sized the bracelet before going for a quick jog around the block, but it was just as expected; to hold the watch firmly in place the bracelet would need to be uncomfortably tight and that's no use. A quick strap change and I'm in the car and on my way! There's no doubt about it, the Druber FKM rubber strap wins out here. I've limited the review to the bracelet and Druber FKM rubber strap as supplied, but my own choice would be a ZULUDIVER military nylon strap, mainly because of the additional security offered by passing through both spring-bars. On returning, cold, wet and tired the first job was a hot shower and a good cry; second was to clean the watch in warm, soapy water with a toothbrush, followed by a rinse under the cold water tap and a quick dry off. I set the watch to the second before leaving and checked it again on my return; there were no issues whatsoever with timekeeping during the run and the Druber FKM rubber strap performed impeccably, in fact, it's up there with the very best!
Travelling on foot over rough terrain is an adventurer's staple diet. It may not seem a good way to test a watch but it turns up all sorts of things! Some watches get caught on almost everything, coats, gloves, rucksack straps, waterproofs etc., not to mention having to constantly keep pulling your sleeve back over it. Watches of this stature can also become generally quite uncomfortable as the day grinds on, again, the Druber FKM rubber strap is the way to go and a full day out on the tops presented no comfort, or practical issues whatsoever. As the Sun decided to join me for a good part of the day I took the opportunity to use the watch for some basic solar navigation using the GMT hand in conjunction with the rotating bezel and the map; it performed admirably as one would expect.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT - Credit Don Russell
Of course, general day-to-day wearability is also important, and it would be ridiculous not to comment on it. The watch has been worn for seven days just as I would wear my usual watch, the only exception is that I kept it on for two days and one night continually, including showering. Why is this important? If I'm away from home I rarely remove my watch at all, and it's important that it remains comfortable. For this extended period I chose the Druber FKM rubber strap, and to be fair, around 90% of the total review period for the Freediver was on the Druber. The watch has an unusually flat caseback, and this makes it sit incredibly low. The Freediver is quite a chunky thing, but I can honestly say that I never banged it or caught it on anything during the seven days; I even tried a dress shirt on with it and the cuff slid over it without hesitation! At 45mm the Freediver GMT has some presence, but it stops there; it's so comfortable to wear that you just forget about it. I did have a concern about the substantial crown located at the 3 o'clock position digging into the back on my hand, but forcing my wrist back as much as I could my initial concern proved to be completely unfounded.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT - Credit WatchGecko
I feel that I should elaborate further on the bracelet as it may appear that I've just written it off. The quality of the bracelet is very good indeed, with all removable links being secured with threaded pins. All links are drilled, solid stainless steel, as are the fitted end links. The clasp has six micro-adjustment holes and a twin push-button release; in addition, it's also secured by a fold-over safety catch, 'belt & braces' as we used to say! It fits the case perfectly and for a night out it certainly looks the part, complimenting the watch perfectly. It may be just me, but I find that bracelets always seem to pluck the hairs out of my wrist and never seem to be 'just right'. I also find that my wrist expands and contracts somewhat with heat, cold and exercise, making it either too tight or too slack. Both the bracelet and the Druber FKM rubber strap come with the watch, and with a changeover taking no more than a minute it's sensible to get the best from both!
The Druber FKM rubber strap
Just a few words on this as you've probably got the gist of it by now. The strap has been made to fit the case seamlessly, carrying the case profile majestically across to the opposite lug. The amount of 'give' in the rubber is matched so well to the weight of the watch head that it holds it in place perfectly without having to be too tight. The buckle is chunky and discreetly sports the Boldr logo, complimenting the look of the watch perfectly. The captive first keeper makes sure that everything stays nicely tucked away and where it should be; a substantial relief on the underside assists with ventilation and improves comfort. Rarely does a rubber strap hit every mark, but this one has absolutely nailed it!
Boldr Odyssey Freediver GMT - Credit WatchGecko
Gripes and niggles
Yes, there are always a couple! These generally fall into three categories, the first being engineering, the second being build quality and the third being design. On the engineering front I'm at a loss to find anything at all, and the same goes for the build quality. On the design front there are two things, the date at 4:30 and the transparent dial! Both of these features are executed extremely well, and it's nothing more than my own personal opinion. For me, the date should be at 3 o'clock or 6 o'clock, it's a personal thing and there is no logical reason whatsoever why it shouldn't be placed at the 4:30 position. The same for the transparent dial, again, it's nothing more than personal opinion that, if truth be told, probably has it's roots in tradition. Could I live with it? That's a difficult one to answer, but as the watch 'steps up to the plate' as it were, in virtually every area, it would be absolutely ridiculous to say no!
What's the verdict then?
Firstly, we need to disregard my personal niggles about the date position and the transparent dial in order to offer a balanced appraisal. Based on the quality of this particular watch, I'd find it extremely difficult to come up with a reason not to go for it; a 'true' GMT automatic with an exhibition caseback, domed sapphire crystal, triple time-zone capability, 300m of water resistance, bi-colour, lumed ceramic bezel insert, stainless steel bracelet and a Druber FKM rubber strap for a whisker under £900? Sounds a lot like Christmas all year round to me! As I've mentioned, it came over as a bit of a 'dog's dinner' at first, but yes, the Freediver GMT really does cut the mustard! As for the movement, I have no personal experience of the Miyota cal. 9075 but this one has performed faultlessly, and given me no cause whatsoever to doubt its reliability or indeed, its suitability. Looking at it logically, Miyota is owned by Citizen. Enough said.