Climb to new heights with a closer look at the Boldr Expedition II
Once you have built a solid reputation for manufacturing capable outdoor watches you’ve probably earned the right to adopt suitably dramatic names for your next collection. And this is exactly what the Boldr Supply Company have done with the Expedition II range. They have chosen model designations which capture the imagination, taking you to some of the most famous mountains in the world.
Hot on the heels of the successful and very popular Venture range (which we field tested last month), Boldr’s new collection has four distinct models - the Eiger, Matterhorn, Rushmore, and El Capitan.
The four watches are similar in style and design, but each variant brings a different colour, finish and technical specifications to the range offering something for all tastes.
From an overall perspective the Expedition II family mixes classic field watch characteristics with a subtle diver feel. On their website Boldr describe these watches as an “all-round daily beater”, which is one of the best company product descriptors to date and perfectly sets the scene for Boldr’s intended use for the watches. It also makes a statement about their confidence in build quality.As with the Venture range the Expedition II is interesting before it has even come out of the box. Boldr have included with the watch an orange survival coloured notebook, Perspex extended warranty card, instructions, and a game which reflects the case back engraving - but more on that later. These small extras are part of the joy of buying a new watch, Marloe did it particularly well with the Haskell, and it is a thoughtful manufacturer (and clever marketing department) who can take you on a meaningful journey into the watch box itself, with the watch as the main reveal.
Once we got hands-on with the watch, initial impressions did not disappoint. It feels robust and solid with the 41mm wide and 14mm deep stainless case looking purposeful. Outstanding legibility was clearly the critical design feature for the Expedition (even on the stealth Matterhorn version) and the dial arrangement is classic field watch with super bold hands and hour markers.
Prominent on all models are double crowns which suggest that the Expedition has form and function beyond a standard field watch. The lower screw in crown is a factor in the generous 200m water resistance capability and has three settings. Manual wind, date adjust, and time set with hacking function. The upper crown, which is clearly differentiated by orange accents on three models, is also screw in and allows access to the rotating bezel which is concealed under the AR coated double domed sapphire crystal lens. The bezel being under the crystal gives a clean look to the whole watch and this arrangement will certainly prevent wear and tear to the bezel if the watch is treated roughly. This design will appeal to serious outdoor enthusiasts.
The dial design of the Matterhorn, Eiger, El Capitan and Rushmore are similar. Except for the Matterhorn, each model has an orange tipped second hand and orange highlights at the indices all coated with Super-LumiNova BGW9. The Matterhorn does not have these colour variances and instead offers a stark grey/black scheme which will resonate with a certain demographic. The date window on all watches substitutes for the four-hour marker and the hands have been skeletonised which makes them look like compass needles. Attention to detail is exceptional with the silver cases having a blasted look and all the date wheels colours matching that of the dials. The cases have angles on the left side yet are smooth on the curve of the right side which harks very slightly to the design of 1970s watches used by the US military like the Benrus.
The case backs of the Expedition range are imaginatively designed with an engraved walking boot foot print over a maze. Boldr are implying that with the Expedition II you will discover strange new lands which have until now been a mystery to you. It’s a nice ethos which adds to the allure of the watch. Finally with regards to the exterior, the models available from WatchGecko all come with very tough canvas straps which have reinforced pin holes. The watches will suit any outdoor style strap and later in the year we will do a strap showcase highlighting our choice of NATO and rubber straps to enhance your Expedition.
Beating inside all Expedition II watches is a single movement. The bulletproof Sellita SW200. A Swiss automatic calibre widely considered to be the principal competitor to the ETA 2824. With a diameter of 25.6mm and a thickness of 4.6mm it is not overly large, which permits the neat dimensions of the Expedition. The SW200 features a 38-hour power reserve with a vph of around 28,800. Expect a respectable accuracy of +/- 12 seconds per day.
As alluded to all the models have subtly different technical characteristics so here is a summary of the unique differences:
Perhaps most suited to the serious adventurer, the Eiger has a white dial with blue lume across its entire diameter. The bezel and hands have independent brighter blue lume. The strap is black fabric. With the least reflection, due to the white dial favoured in the Poles and desert, and the most impressive lume, this model is a serious outdoor tool.
In full stealth mode, the Matterhorn has a black case with a monotone black and grey finish on all elements. It has no orange accents. Subtle green lume on the hands and indices make night visibility good. In a work of superior design, the grey accents on this watch create excellent legibility – which is a hurdle many watch manufacturers seem to fail on with their “blackout” models. A black fabric strap completes the dramatic look.
Given its name, the natural world is prominent with the green olive drab dial and matching strap of the El Capitan. A classic Field Watch in perfect colours for those of us who love the outdoors and can think of no better place to relax than a forest. Blue lume on the hands and indices make visibility at the campfire easy and the boot print case back will always inspire the next hike.
With a black dial and green strap the Rushmore reminds us more of military watches from a bygone era. It takes inspiration from early watches which defined what a field watch would become. Another very detailed dial offers bright green lume on the hands and indices with an alternate blue lume on the numerals giving a unique night time look.
Possibly the most challenging element of the Boldr Expedition II range will be choosing one. These are not your archetypal field watches and bring something very new to the market. They have the technical capability of a mid-depth dive watch, yet the overall impression is very much inspired by the natural world with the result being watches waiting to be taken on adventures worthy of their namesakes.
One of my new year’s resolutions (more of a quest) will be a hunt for the ultimate field watch. To date my mental image of a standard field watch was something akin to a generic Hamilton Khaki but so many manufacturers like Boldr and Formex (watch this space) are now pushing the design barriers so we intend to use my search to explore this oldest of genres in detail over 2022. The Boldr Supply Co. Expedition II is a thoroughly worthy addition to their portfolio and genuinely brings something new without being a gimmick. With its high resistance to the environment and rugged design the Expedition can be considered a serious one-stop-shop watch which can go anywhere and be subjected to significant punishment.