With companies such as Withings developing the Activite and Activite Pop as well as nevo and its smartwatch of the same name, it is clear that there is a demand for a “hybrid smartwatch”: one that has some basic smartwatch functions, but does not need to be charged every other night. Recently, a new watchmaker has decided to jump into the scene.
TravisLeon may not be a sexy company name, but it is as honest as it gets: TravisLeon was founded by two childhood friends from Kuala Lumpur, Travis Tan and Leon Leong. After going their separate ways as they grew up, a chance meeting and a shared love of watches eventually led to the founding of the company. Of course, it wasn’t just passion that drove what first began as a T-shirt company into an internationally-recognised brand: Tan’s uncle is a watchmaker himself, based in Hong Kong.
With a few contacts in place, the two best friends proceeded to develop the Heirloom, a beautiful handmade mechanical watch. Designed in-house and manufactured in China, it featured Japanese Miyota Quartz movement. Knowing the risks of scaling too quickly, the company took to Kickstarter to gauge interest in what is a niche market. The results were overwhelming for the two-man company: at a special Kickstarter price of $279 (around RM1,195), all 300 units were snapped up within its funding period.
With the Heirloom’s success, TravisLeon began looking at solving the wearables conundrum. Both saw the spike in interest in this new segment, and in particular with the popularity of Xiaomi’s affordable Mi Band. A simple question popped up: why do we need to wear two products?
Enter BOLDR. A new entity (or sub-brand, if you will) under the TravisLeon name, BOLDR is a watch brand dedicated to creating “clever” watches – and its first product is the Voyage. Featuring a sexy modern aviator design, it looks nothing like a smartwatch. But a closer look will yield some hints: the watch is 14.5mm thick, which is more than average, and the watch face has little openings for LED notifications.
Inside the Voyage, there is a Miyota quartz movement and a standard Type 377 battery, as well as the BOLDR Smart Module, which contains the necessary hardware for the smartwatch. The various sensors, chips, Bluetooth radio and vibration motor are all intricately pieced together into the module, which is powered by an off-the-shelf CR2032 coin battery. BOLDR says that the watch battery will last for 3 years, while the Smart Module battery will run for up to six months.
Like any other smartwatch, the Voyage is capable of counting steps, and the BOLDR app for Android and iOS lets you set a daily target. LEDs located around the watch face glow as you press one of the watch buttons, stopping just shy of the 12 o’clock mark when you hit your steps goal. As the company’s motto is #BeBOLDR (not to mention the all-caps brand), the 12 o’clock LED will only light up when you hit 110% of your step goal.
The Voyage syncs with an Android or iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0, where the BOLDR app pushes alerts for calls, text messages and other app notifications with a subtle vibration and blinking LED lights. You can select which notifications will be pushed to the watch, while a smart security feature alerts you when the watch detects when you move too far away from the phone. Also, there’s a dedicated remote shutter button that allows you to capture photos with your phone.
For now, the app is pretty barebone, but all of its functions work reliably. When asked about adding new features, such as sleep tracking or more fancy stuff, BOLDR says that it is focused on getting the core features done perfectly first, and then consider other features later in the app’s lifecycle.
But what sets the Voyage apart from current hybrid smartwatches is in the company’s awareness of style. That’s not to say that the Withings Activite nor the nevo Watch are not attractive, but BOLDR is creating only limited quantities of each colour the Voyage is available in. There are currently six to choose from, and all of these will not be available in a year’s time; BOLDR says it will refresh the collection in limited quantities every year, making these watches essentially collectors’ items.
The photos of the Voyage in this article are shot with a prototype device – the smart functions do not work, but the materials and build are the same. From my short time shooting the watch, my first impressions are pretty positive: despite the thick body, the watch was surprisingly comfortable. The 43mm watch face also did not feel too large, and overall the watch wasn’t as heavy as it looks.
Like before, BOLDR started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the Voyage. With a modest funding goal of CAD30,000 (about RM97,000) and an early bird price of just CAD169 (about RM545) for the watch, the campaign was fully funded within 30 hours. At the time of writing, the pledged amount is almost triple the original goal, which has prompted BOLDR to introduce stretch goals, including options to purchase additional straps as well as a limited edition Titanium edition.
Interested in getting the BOLDR Voyage? Its Kickstarter campaign is still running, and the early bird deal is still available at the time of writing. More information can also be obtained there, or by checking out the official website.