The Boldr Odyssey Freediver is one of the latest offerings from the constantly evolving microbrand and comes in much smaller than its predecessor with a new 40mm case size. The original Odyssey is 45mm, and I have covered quite a few of them here in recent years. The Freediver isn’t just a smaller case though, it has been updated with quite a few other design elements such as the bezel and dial configuration. Shown here is the green, dubbed the 202, as well as a silver dial, a vibrant red, and also meteorite dials, that come in either blue or black. All of them look great and are not your standard black, grey or, blue dials, but this green was my first choice to review, and I love that they went with not only a color-matched bezel but also the date wheel. This shrunken Odyssey is also bead blasted all over, but there are a few surprises with that as well, so let’s jump right into the specs and review below.
At first glance, you may think it is the same watch as before, just in a smaller diameter, but those that are familiar with the original will notice that the Boldr Odyssey Freediver has a very different bezel. Yes, the actual bezel itself retains the same great grip and look as before, but now has a ceramic insert. Very different from the Panerai style bezel that was used previously. Not only does this allow the overall aesthetic to be a more traditional looking dive watch but allows for a fully indexed bezel as well as adding SuperLumiNova. Boldr states clearly on their website in the specifications that this model meets all ISO 6425 standards, which include at least 100m water resistance, a unidirectional fully indexed bezel, and a visible dial with running indication even in pitch-black darkness.
Adding to that, the Freediver is anti-magnetic and resistant to shock and corrosion from seawater, all things you would expect for something to be used as a true dive watch. How many buyers of this watch will actually be using it to dive? Probably not a large percentage, but it is always good to know it is built to real dive watch specs, and not just another diver-style watch.
The case and bracelet are bead-blasted, and this watch is all steel, so despite its smaller size and subdued appearance, this is not a lightweight watch. It is still hefty at 189 grams, so you will steel feel some nice heft on the wrist. The blasting is unique in that pretty much 95% of the case is all matte, but if you take a look at the side angles of the case and the edges of the crown guards, you notice there is some high polish. This is something I do not remember seeing often on blasted watches, and I quite like it. It gives a little pop to the appearance and has a distinctive look, especially when on the wrist and those high polish areas are reflecting light. Another area that doesn’t have the bead-blasted finish? That would be the underside of the bracelet. For whatever reason, Boldr chose to leave this brushed steel. I really have no idea why they did this, and find it adds no function and I doubt it really saved anything on cost, but I will say it is pretty seamless and you can not tell from the front or sides of the bracelet that the back is not blasted.
As you can see in the picture above, the case back is somewhat elaborate with different finishes and depicts the Kraken, a mythic warrior I believe, at least that’s what I read online. Beyond that, you can see the brushed steel to the back of the bracelet I was talking about and you also see one other thing: Quick-release spring bars. This is my one and only negative with his Freediver. I suspect many like this feature and my rants against these have probably been a little misconstrued. It is not that I am against having easier or tool-less ways to remove a bracelet or strap, I just don’t like how they are implemented currently, especially on microbrands. See, my biggest issue is the prongs themself. They feel fragile and in my experience (not with this watch), they can break easily, and then you just need to replace them with standard spring bars. That is even worse with most straps, especially leather, because of the extra hole in the strap to allow for the quick-release mechanism, and when you take it out and replace it, now you have an area that can cause added stress to the strap, and possibly tear it.
But, back to these quick-release bars. No, I did not break these, but I do find them to be finicky, and I am not sure if it is taking the watch on and off the wrist, or just moving it around while I was shooting them for this review or the video, but every now and then I find the prongs, or levers if you will, moving, and with that, slightly moving the spring bar out of its hole. Then the one side of the end link will be moving away from the lugs. This is just not something you encounter with regular spring bars, shoulderless spring bars with drilled lugs, or solid screw bars. I am not sure who started this trend, but I will be the first to sign the petition to stop the quick-release spring bars.
In the video, I kept referring to the dial as standard, and that really is a disservice to the dial of the Boldr Odyssey Freediver, as it is anything but standard. I probably referred to it as a gradient dial in the Youtube review, which is incorrect, as it is an Ombre dial. This is similar to a fume dial, where it is one main color in the middle, but gets darker as it goes towards the edges. In this case, it is green, and becomes almost black on the outer part of the dial, and has a slight pebble texture as well. I am not 100% sure, but I believe this is the first Odyssey to have Arabic numerals on the dial as opposed to round or rectangle indices. Even the Globetrotter, which used the Odyssey case didn’t have numbers. Obviously, this is subjective, but on this particular watch, I really like that they went with numbers. It works well with the overall look and gives it somewhat of a field watch vibe as well. Another thing to point out about the dial is the color matched the date wheel, which also happens to be at 6 o’clock, my favorite date placement. If you notice this dial and bezel look a lot lighter in color than they do on the company’s website, and that is something you need to be aware of. The pictures you see here depict what the watch truly looks like.
As you would expect, the Boldr Odyssey Freediver is a little more enjoyable on the wrist, at least on my 7 1/2 inch wrist, compared to the 45mm version. I’ve talked bout this a lot recently, I find myself gravitating towards smaller watches, but this depends on the watch, and I will not rag on a watch because it is large, or what I consider large, and I still wear bigger pieces from time to time. What’s nice about this piece is that on paper, it is 40mm, but because of the case design, it still wears larger, though the 48mm lug to lug makes It really hug my wrist.
Something else that makes it very comfortable is the clasp. Boldr chose to go with a more traditional flip-lock deployant clasp, with a lot of micro-adjustment holes. The clasp functions as it should, it’s very secure with no rattling or the flip lock bulging out and feels appropriate on this 20mm bracelet. I was afraid it would have the ratchet clasp, which I do enjoy, but it needs to be on the right watch. In this case, I feel it would have overwhelmed the bracelet and look out of place or aftermarket.
The movement is one we all know-No, not the Seiko NH35, another go-to movement used by microbrands, but the now iconic(?) Miyota 9015. I remember when this movement was announced, as so many OG microbrand were using the Miyota 8215, a movement that felt dated even then, and the announcement of this 9015 brought excitement, especially as it was touted as a competitor to the ETA 2824. Now, I am quite aware this movement has its detractors because of the loud rotor, and the diehards who still prefer their movement be Swiss. I have no issues with the 9015 and found the loudness of the rotor depends on the watch it is put in. In a watch like this Boldr Odyssey Freediver, it really isn’t that noticeable, due to the heavy and solid case construction. I will admit, I have had this movement in lightweight watches, and the rotor noise was audible enough for someone in the room with me to ask “What was that?” when I raised my arm to check the time.
If it feels like sometimes I gloss over the lume-I don’t think that is the case, rather I do not think lume really needs to be explained in great detail. As you can see with the photo below, the lume is evenly applied and very bright. Exactly what you expect from a dive watch and from Boldr, as they have proven to be serious about lume on their watches.
I feel that Boldr producing the Freediver was a very smart move. If you follow microbrands or even mainstream brands, you will notice a shift towards smaller watches, many going below 40mm to more vintage-sized pieces like 36 and 38mm. Fear not though. If you still like a large dive watch, Boldr has just released a new standard Odyssey, with a new bezel setup as well (sapphire) with its own new dial layout. I have reached out to review that one as well, but when it comes to this smaller beast, I really do love it. I have always liked this case design, the hard angles, and distinct lines, and with the blasted and ever so slightly polished case, the green dial, and the solid feel overall, puts this as a winner in my book. At $649, it is not the cheapest microbrand diver out there, but I also find the best microbrands to be a little more expensive, not because of the perception of price, rather the attention to details and the finish. Sure, you can find way cheaper offerings with strange names and countless homage designs these days, but that gets a little boring doesn’t it?
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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