Has the king of the affordable field watch finally met its match?
Ever since it was announced in 2018, the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical has constantly topped the list as the best field watch. With its pocket-friendly price point (£395), tasty proportions offering ridiculously wearability, a build quality that is difficult to knock (in every sense of the word) and a seriously impressive movement flexing 80 hours of power reserve, what's not to love?Since then the affection for the Hamilton has only grown; as has the range of variations with new case finishes, dial colours, strap options and even a new larger size.
But recently we’ve noticed a new player on the scene entering Hamilton's realm of existence, and it's giving the Khaki Mechanical a serious run for its money...
The BOLDR Venture
BOLDR is a Singapore based watch brand laser-focused on creating watches purely to be used by adventurers and thrill-seekers across the globe. This refreshing approach is something that has resonated with watch collectors since the brand was established over 5 years ago.
The watch in question today is the Venture Carbon Black which is 38mm wide with a lug to lug distance of 44mm and a thickness of 12mm. Those proportions are superb for a field watch with a tonneau case. Even if you’re someone who tends to favour larger watches, a field watch is suited to smaller proportions so we’d recommend holding off judgement of this piece just from its size on paper.
So what does the Venture Carbon Black offer that is similar or comparable to the ever-popular Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical? Well, proportionally they’re very close with the Hamilton just offering a longer lug to lug distance (47mm).
Where the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical harnesses a vintage approach with its 24-hour dial complete with faux lume in the hands and markers, the BOLDR explores new, modern ground with clean white printing, more bold (pun intended?) 12-hour markers and even a pop of orange colour on the second hand.
The use of syringe hands does balance out the modernity with an ever so slight touch of history, but it's not enough to distract from the overall message of the piece. This is a thoroughly modern, dependable field watch. Are you looking for more proof? Well, the case and NATO hardware are both titanium with its traditional subdued finish to match.
Now, the Hamilton does have a similar blasted finish to its case but there is something infinitely cooler about a well-made titanium field watch at this price point. Titanium is normally reserved for more expensive watches that put value on being a little different from the norm.
Comparing the movements
When it comes to the movement inside these watches, this is where there are some noticeable differences. The Hamilton has the H50 movement under the hood which is based on the ETA 2801-2 movement. It has been modified to stretch its power reserve to 80 hours which offers a distinctive plus. Of course, with Hamilton being in Swatch Group, it is expected that the movement is going to be impressive, however, it isn’t simply game, set and match to the Hamilton.
The BOLDR uses the Seiko NH35 movement which is automatic, hacking and comes with 41 hours of power reserve. It’s also very easy to service which although servicing related thoughts shouldn’t stop you from buying a watch you love, it is something to consider.
Having an automatic movement as well is a huge bonus for the Venture. Manual wind watches are fantastic, but they do require a little more input from the user to quite literally keep it running. This is a very calming ritual on most manual watches, but when it comes to field watches you might just find an automatic movement that keeps going as long as you keep moving to be a huge benefit.
Once again, another benefit of the Venture being automatic is that the crown is a screw in one. This contributes massively to the 200m of water resistance on offer here; a noticeable increase on the Hamilton’s 50m.
On wrist thoughts with the BOLDR
On the wrist, the BOLDR Venture is exactly how you want a field watch to feel. Unassuming, lightweight, comfortable and above all else it looks the part. The design is simplistic, but that only enhances its legibility. With its overall monochrome look, the Venture is also surprisingly sleek and smart on the wrist. Although it is categorised as a field watch, you won’t need to be afraid of looking out of place with this watch. It could easily be a regular, if not a daily watch for you.
And then there are the details. The pop of orange on the second hand is just enough to elevate the piece without it taking away from the core value the watch offers. The four o’clock crown is surprisingly easy to manipulate and thanks to that offset position, assists greatly with comfort on the wrist.
The use of titanium will throw some people who are used to stainless steel cases though. There is an assumed connection between weight and quality with watches so we understand that for many, a titanium watch wouldn’t be appropriate. However, once you’re familiar with the watches' lightness it becomes one of its biggest selling points.
Hamilton vs BOLDR, who is the winner?So the million-pound question (or in this case, the £269 or £395 question) which watch should you go for? Well if you’re all about tradition and a watch that honours the history behind how the field watch came to be then the Hamilton is the one for you. Its movement is impressive, Hamilton is a household name and it's Swiss made.
But don’t sleep on the BOLDR. Traditional field watches are of course still popular, but the Venture is a brilliant example of a modern field watch that has adapted and evolved with the world around it, all without straying too far away from traditional expectations.For just under £300 you get a ton of value here from a brand with a growing, popular reputation for doing something different. It can be tricky to find a watch that ticks all of those boxes at this price point with the quality to match.
Fortunately, BOLDR is one such brand, and lucky for you, we’ve made your hunt for one that much easier by recently becoming official authorised retailers of BOLDR watches.
Alternatively, brush up on your Hamilton knowledge by having a read our Khaki Field Mechanical review.