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Boldr Safari GMT
Since the Miyota 9075 and the Seiko NH34 movements were unveiled, the latest microbrand trend has been GMT watches. Boldr has released quite a few GMT watches in the past, like their Globetrotter series, but those were much more expensive, and also much larger watches. The 9075, which is referred to as a “true” GMT has been quite popular, and is also a way for brands to offer this style of movement at a much lower price than what Rolex offers. But even more affordable are watches using the Seiko NH34, and that is what is in the Boldr Safari GMT I have in hand for review. This new model from the Singaporean microbrand uses a new 40mm case, comes in 3 different color combos and is pretty affordable at $469. The Tarangire model that I have here does have a Rolex Explorer vibe but still has that distinct style and aesthetic Boldr is known for.
- 40mm Stainless Steel Blasted Case
- Lug to Lug 48mm
- Thickness 12.5mm
- Lug Width 20mm
- Weight 151 grams Unsized
- California Dials
- Japan LumiNova
- Sapphire Crystal
- Seiko NH34 GMT Movement
- 200m Water Resistance
- Blasted Stainless Steel Bracelet
- Country of Manufacture- China (Hong Kong)
So yes, GMT watches are all the rage right now in the microbrand world, and that makes sense seeing how microbrands rely on easily available movements, and when new ones hit the market, it only makes sense that they incorporate them into their lineup. The Boldr Safari GMT uses the Seiko NH34 GMT movement, which is what is referred to as a GMT caller, so if you ever used an ETA 2893-2 or Sellita SW-330, it operates pretty much the same, though don’t expect it to have the same accuracy or smoothness of the aforementioned movements. Much like the NH35, this is an affordable movement and is very much a base movement as well, but like all the others, it is considered a workhorse movement, meaning it does not do everything great, but should keep working for many years.
As I mentioned earlier, there are 3 versions/colors of this Boldr Safari GMT, but actually, this new Safari model has a few variations in the lineup itself. This is the GMT model, but there is also a dive version and a field-style watch as well, all utilizing this new case from Boldr. If you don’t care for this Tarangire version with the Explorer vibes, the other 2 models (blue or green) have color-matched bezels, so you can have something that looks less like a famous model from a big brand. I chose this model specifically because of the look though, as I just love the Explorer II, but I also liked how this was not a direct copy. The case is very different in shape and the entire case and bracelet are bead blasted, giving it a rugged look and feel. The knurled screw-down crown allows for a great grip and adds to that ruggedness and this is a beautiful case design from Boldr, with the flared case sides and semi-hooded lugs.
The aluminum bezel insert, dial color, and orange accents are obviously what gives off the Explorer look here, but the Bolder Safari GMT Tarangire has a few details that keep it from being your standard clone. First, check out the numerals. This is a California dial, a dial not normally seen on this style of watch. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it would be a good fit, especially with the contrasting Arabic numerals on the bezel, but somehow it pulls it off and makes it somewhat unique. Then of course you have the broadsword hour and minute hands, which are nothing new or original but still different from the standard Mercedes hands used by Rolex. The dial is a little less cluttered as well, and one thing that I am not fond of here is the use of a date movement but a no-date dial. If the movement is out of date, then you should go ahead and put it on the dial. Furthermore, I have seen a few complaints of lack of functionality of a GMT watch without a date on the dial.
The no date on the dial doesn’t bother me as I have talked about in the past, I don’t really use the GMT complication, but on certain watches, I have just always liked the look. Now, this may seem crazy to some watch enthusiasts, but dive watches are the most popular style of watch sold out, and I am willing to be over 90% of those buyers have never gone diving in their life. The no-date keeps the dial cleaner and I have grown to appreciate a dial without one, but I can see how this can be an issue for some. All that said, this is an easy-to-use GMT watch, and all you do is move the crown out to the first position, move and set the GMT hand.
If you are someone like me who is not a big fan of high polish or reflective cases, well this Boldr Safari GMT will probably appeal to you, because there is not one part of the case or bracelet that is not bead blasted. Even that aluminum bezel insert has the same finish. For me, I love the look, especially considering this is meant to be a watch to wear while on Safari, hiking, camping, or of course traveling, and not only will the finish keep reflections down, but it should also take a beating while still looking pretty good as this finish tends to hide scratches unless it really gets some major road rash. The case is smooth to the touch and the gray looks contrasts nicely with the stark white dial and just gives it a tool-ish look and feel, a look I am very fond of.
Something I am not overly fond of though is the case back, or more specifically the cartoon etching of an animal on the sapphire window of the case back. When I first received this Boldr Safari GMT, I really had to look closely to try and figure out what this is
“Art” was on the crystal. Reading the Boldr Website, I realized this was an animal, one of four that were randomly selected and printed on the glass. Reading further, these are animals one would encounter in Tarangire National Park Safari tours, and I flipped the watch around and realized it was a Zebra. Now you may be sitting here thinking, are you dumb, how can you not tell? Well, I just told you what it was, but with how it was a transparent print, and looking at it upside down, I had no clue. Once I figured it out, I still didn’t care for it. Not only is it hard to tell what it is, and just looks like something you’d find on the back of a $100 Swatch watch, but it also obstructs one’s view of the movement. While I have always maintained I don’t care for exhibition case backs for plain and mundane movements, if you are going to do a clear case back, make sure one can see the movement then.
When it comes to fit, the Boldr Safari GMT is 40mm, and with a short lug-to-lug of 48mm, it is going to be comfortable on a lot of wrists. 40mm is usually the smallest I will go for these days for watches, but I never rule anything out because I have learned that the written specifications do not always tell the whole story. Some watches just wear larger and others smaller, and that is due to many different factors. I would say this Safari wears exactly like I expected, a 40mm case, and as such, I found it to look good on my 7 1/2 inch (19.05cm) wrist, and it is very comfortable as well. One thing to note, the male end links do make the overall length a little larger, more like 50mm in overall length, so look at my wrist and see where it covers to determine if it will be wearable on your wrist.
The bracelet is a Y or U-link-style bracelet, which is also a nice change from the standard oyster-style link they could have used. The links are held together with friction pins, not screws, so keep that in mind for those of you who are not adept at sizing this style of bracelet that you may want to bring it to a jeweler to do so. I find it easy to size though, and the 3 links out is a perfect fit for my wrist size. The clasp, with its little safari adventure trail design, is pretty standard fare though, but very functional, so no complaints here.
Boldr has always impressed me, especially with its more rugged design elements and the array of models you can choose from, both affordable and very affordable, such as this Boldr Safari GMT. I personally love the looks and design of this one but know it may be too close to the Rolex, so check out the others on their website, or if GMT watches don’t interest you, give a look at the other Safari models. With the exception of whatever they were thinking with that case back design, I think all around this is a great piece, and a nice budget GMT watch that doesn’t look budget. Even the lume is fantastic, just check the photo above. I do wonder why they did not do a black dial version of this Tarangire though, as I think I would have liked that one even more, but who knows what they have in plan for the future. You can see all of the Boldr Safari models HERE.
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