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Boldr Special Pokémon Collection Watch Review

Boldr Special Pokémon Collection

The watch industry is famously slow to adapt and innovate. Just look around at the watches being released right now and a good proportion of them will be Genta homages or salmon dials making it feel like we’re all the way back in the 1970s. However, there’s one type of watch that shows tastes and times are changing, the character watch. And the reason for that is simple. As generations change so do the TV shows and (more recently) video games that they feel nostalgic for. Popeye and Snoopy’s days are numbered, long live Mario and Pokémon. When I mention Pokémon, I’m specifically talking about the new Boldr Special Pokémon Collection, which I just so happen to have in front of me.

First of all, let me tell you that when these watches arrived at Oracle Time HQ, the office went crazy. Colleagues who don’t bat an eye when a £70,000 Royal Oak comes in were clamouring to get a look at these four watches. And the general consensus was that they are really, really cool – and I tend to agree.

Boldr Special Pokémon Collection

Each of the four watches that make up the collection are dedicated to one of the original Gen 1 starter Pokémon. Which means you have Squirtle, Charmander, Bulbasaur and Pikachu editions – before anyone says that Pikachu isn’t a starter, I grew up on Pokémon Yellow so shush.

All four of them feature the updated Boldr Voyage case, the refreshed version of the Voyager, made from stainless steel with a diameter of 40mm. I could talk further about how it’s a really solid adventure case and that it wears well but frankly I’m too excited to start talking about the dials. Each one is unique so let’s go through them individually.

Boldr Special Pokémon Pikachu
Boldr Special Pokémon Pikachu

The Pikachu model has a black dial, red hour and minute hands and a red-tipped, yellow seconds hand. Like all four models, there’s a silhouette of the represented character at 6 o’clock and the counterbalance of the seconds hand takes the form of their type. So, for Pikachu that means an electric thunderbolt. I particularly like how they’ve brought in the symbols from the energy cards found in the trading card game to represent the types.

I think it’s also smart that they have used yellow as an accent colour rather than as the main dial, which would result in an eye-wateringly bright watch. Instead, the black and red colours are taken from Pikachu’s eyes, ear tips and rosy cheeks. The black also reminds me somewhat of Boldr’s recent Musuo black timepieces like the Singularity.

Boldr Special Pokémon Charizard

Next, we have the Charizard piece. I’ve picked up this model second because, flipping it over, we see that it has the same movement as the Pikachu, the Seiko NH38 automatic with 41-hour power reserve. You can also see that on the caseback is a depiction of Charizard with each of the watches having their stage 3 evolutions on the back, except Pikachu which has… Pikachu.

Turning it back over reveals the gradient orange dial again, as well as the green 12-hour bezel that’s absent from the Pikachu model. The presence of the bezel gives the piece a more adventurous, tool watch vibe, in keeping with Charmander’s more adventurous nature. Although I personally think a compass bezel would’ve been more thematic as a reference to the maps used in the game.

Boldr Special Pokémon Squirtle

From the fire type, let’s move on to the water type. The Squirtle edition has all the core Pokémon references as the other watches, such as the 6 o’clock silhouette, caseback evolution and water symbol seconds hand, but introduces a new element to the display: a 24-hour subdial at 10 o’clock.

It’s a slightly darker tone of blue compared to the dial and looks like a cool pond where a Squirtle would want to hang out. There’s also a gradient swirl across the bezel that emphasises the aquatic theme. Pikachu was my immediate favourite but I think given time, I’ll come to really like the Squirtle too. It’s powered by the Seiko NH37 automatic movement.

Boldr Special Pokémon Bulbasaur

Last up we have Bulbasaur. Now, this one sparked a little bit of controversy in the office because, well, it’s primarily blue and pink and Bulbasaur is a green Pokémon. But then it clicked, the colourway is actually based on the final evolution Venusaur, who has a blue body with a plant growing out of its back with green leaves and a pink flower. Which means the colours chosen for the dial make perfect sense.

I should mention that this is the only chronograph model in the Special Collection and it’s the bi-compax subdials that are pink. As part of being a chrono, the Venusaur is the only one with a peripheral tachymeter. Naturally, being a chronograph also means it also has a different movement to the others, housing the VK64 Mecha-Quartz calibre. Normally I’d complain about it being mecha-quartz in an automatic collection but it justifies it having a similar price to its fellow pocket monsters.

Boldr Special Pokémon Pikachu

What really gets me about these watches is the potential for how bad they could have been. We can all picture the cheap plastic toy they could’ve been, suitable only for a McDonalds Happy Meal. However, they’re actually understated, full of accurate and heartfelt details and, dare I say, pretty smart. You could wear one of these in public without anyone ever knowing about the Pokémon connection. In short, I really like them.

Which makes the following sentence all the more heart-breaking. The Boldr Special Pokémon Collection is having a limited release in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand only. It’s understandable why this is the case, Nintendo’s Asian audience is huge, but it still makes me sadder than Pikachu crying at the end of the 1998 movie. Especially as the watches are priced at an incredibly accessible £369. Hopefully the watches will migrate over to the west before too long.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: Boldr Special Pokémon Collection
  • Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel case, matte black dial with Pikachu silhouette and lightening detail seconds hand, Pikachu detail caseback (Pikachu), matte orange dial with flame detail seconds hand and Charmander silhouette, Charizard detail caseback (Charizard), matte ombre blue dial with Squirtle silhouette and water drop detail seconds hand, Blastoise detail caseback (Blastoise), matte ombre blue dial with Bulbasaur silhouette and leaf details seconds hand, Venusaur detail caseback (Venusaur)
  • Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
  • Movement: Seiko calibre NH38A, automatic (Pikachu, Charizard)
    Seiko calibre NH37, automatic (Blastoise)
    Seiko VK64, mecaquartz (Venusaur)
  • Frequency: 21,600 vph (Pikachu, Charizard, Blastoise)
  • Power reserve: 41h (Pikachu, Charizard, Blastoise)
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds (Pikachu, Charizard)
    Hours, minutes, seconds, 24h (Blastoise)
    Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph (Venusaur)
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
  • Price/availability £369

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.