BOMBERG Bolt 68 Chronograph Review
Review Of The BOMBERG Bolt 68 Quartz Chronograph
The BOMBERG BOLT 68 is a slight departure from my normal reviews of automatic dive watches, although given the BOMBERG ‘in your face’ approach to design and ingenuity, I felt this is was a watch worthy of a review.
BOMBERG burst onto the Swiss watch scene in 2012, first seeing the light of day in Neuchâtel which is the cradle of the Swiss watchmaking industry. The brand has big ambitions and a clear message: BOMBERG is different.
According to Rick De La Croix, Chairman of BOMBERG, “Creativity is the ability to think outside the box”. His vision is to create and establish a new, uncontested market space rather than competing in an existing one. Their approach is not so much focusing on potential competitors, but rather concentrating on the needs and desires of its target community.
A quick look at their Instagram account captures this approach perfectly as the brand has taken on a fresh approach to marketing a young, stylish and unashamed brand of Swiss watch.
Something For Everyone
Viewing the full range of watches available on the ever evolving BOMBERG website gives the impression of a brand which actively encourages creativity and pursuing their goal of being different.
A watch like the BOMBERG Bolt 68 Bi-color with its brown leather strap, black and rose gold finishing would look as good with a fine suit in a CEO board meeting at JP Morgan as any other luxury watch. Scroll further and you’ll find the BOMBERG Bolt 68 GREY NAILS BADASS which could not be more suitable than any other watch if it had to be worn on the wrist of a 300 pound tattooed Hells Angel sitting on a custom West Coat Chopper.
Despite being modeled on the same two main models (Bolt 68 and the ‘1968’) the options are vast and more impressively affordable as models include both quartz and automatic options, some of which are produced in limited quantities.
The BOMBERG Bolt 68 range includes the Automatic, Automatic Chronograph, GMT and Quartz Chronograph options.
This review is based on the Quartz Chronograph and the model I’m reviewing is the BOLT-68 NEON Ice Blue.
When I first saw images of the BOMBERG Bolt 68 during a Basel World show a few years ago, it was not as a wrist watch but as a stunning pocket watch. I was seriously hooked on the idea of owning this modern looking pocket watch and instantly went in search of this new brand only to learn of one of the greatest innovations in watch design in recent years…
The BOMBERG Bolt 68 can convert from an attention grabbing wrist watch into an equally stunning pocket watch by a simple bayonet system. This takes less than 10 seconds to achieve and makes it possible for the wearer to configure it based on which they prefer for the day or moment. All BOMBERG Bolt 68 products come with a high quality chain and medallion to turn your exclusive wristwatch into a disruptive pocket watch.
In effect you get two styles of timepiece in a single watch…
The BOMBERG Bolt 68 series comes in both Automatic and Quartz models and for this review I got the latter. As someone who loves automatic watches, quartz movements are not high on my list of things I love about watches and the discussion as to why so many of us prefer an automatic watch is a topic for another article. Quartz movements do however have its advantages;
– The price is significantly lower compared to automatic movements
– Timekeeping is unmatched with the cheapest quartz movement usually keeping better time than the most expensive automatic Swiss watch!
– It is easier to service and usually only means a battery change. Bomberg watches runs for up to 5 years on a new battery.
– It does not run down when not worn so requires less effort to maintain.
Although quartz movements are by no means faultless, they do make sense as a more affordable option.
At the end of the day, both the Automatic and Quartz Bolt 68 models use the same case and the only visible difference in how they run would be the ticking vs sweeping motion of the second hand.
This is one of the things that adds to the appeal of the whole BOMBERG range, as two models which look nearly identical and has the same case construction and core functions (for example the chronograph function) can differ in price from 1125 USD for the Quartz or 3500 USD for the Automatic variant.
The BOMBERG Bolt 68 arrives in a very stylish presentation box with a black leather style finish in which you find the watch, the pocket watch medallion and chain, as well as the warranty card.
There is a lot to be said for quality presentation when it comes to watches and the BOMBERG Bolt 68 box makes a great first impression.
A quick overview of the listed features of the Bolt 68 Neon Ice Blue:
Screwed-down (couronne vissée), stainless steel, full black PVD & Knurling
Black sunray & vertical brush, mix of Arabic & index in apply
Chain & Medal
Diameter 45 MM, Round shape, SS knurling finishing on sides, 4 pieces
H + M Blue with black luminous / Black sweep second + Blue / Black round shaped 3h, Gray/Blue print counter disc 9h, I. Blue 283C small hand 6h
24mm x 22mm
Black Silicone Bomberg filed with 283C Ice Blue color
Pin buckle, 316L, 22mm, black PVD
Ronda 3540.D (10 ½ x 11 ½) – Pendant (stem) 12 o’clock
Regardless of the model, the Bolt 68 is an attention grabbing watch. The case has a nice solid and ‘perfectly heavy’ feel to it and the dial really draws your eyes in to explore it. The Neon Ice Blue version (as with some of the other Neon versions) has a sporty and electric looking colour profile and the BOMBERG logo with its matching neon blue on the silicone strap compliments to dial beautifully.
Quick First Overview
BOMBERG designs their timepieces to be seen and for this reason it is meant to be big. At 45mm wide and 15mm thick, the case is comparable to other larger watches (not oversized). The most significant difference is in its length where it measures 63mm long from the bottom of the case to the top of the highest centre crown.
When worn on a medium sized wrist, the Bolt 68 looks big and demands attention without making it look ‘too big’. This is an impressive feat as the line between ‘good-looking big’ and ‘ridiculously big’ is a fine one and BOMBERG has established itself quickly as one of the new masters in this division. Part of the illusion lies in elevating the case by means of the strap which connects to the case more towards its rear as opposed to at the traditional centre. This props the watch up on the wrist nicely, making it stand out without having to resort an oversized case.
For this reason, when the Bolt 68 is mounted on the pocket watch adapter (or medallion) and chain, the dimensions remain the same and it is peculiar how much smaller it seems than when worn on the wrist. When worn as a pocket watch it sits very comfortably in a waistcoat or even jean pocket without bulging and the weight is just enough to let you know it is there.
The glass used for this watch is a domed sapphire crystal and it sits roughly 1.3mm higher than the case giving it a nice elevated appearance without making it stand out too much.
Crown & Push Buttons
The large screw down centre crown is easily gripped and turned, requiring 2 and ¾ turns to move it from the locked to unlocked position. Pulling it one ‘click’ out to the one position allows you to change the date without hacking the movement by turning the crown anti clock wise. Position two allows you to hack the movement for synchronizing and then adjusting the minute and hour hands.
The BOMBERG Bolt 68 has two push buttons to either side of the crown which operates the chronograph function of the watch. The left push button being for start/stop and the right button for the lap and reset functions.
There are additional, unlisted features whereby the user can calibrate the chronograph using the push buttons, but this falls outside the scope of this review.
The Bolt 68 has a very busy dial as it contains a large date window (5 dates visible at any time), two chronograph dials, one second dial, an edge Tachymeter scale and of course the hour, minute and chronograph second hands.
The traditional second hand remains stationary at the 12 o’clock position and only comes to life when activating the chronograph.
A small detail some people seem to notice quite quickly is the unsymmetrical cut, large Arabic numerals. The dials at the bottom and left side of the dial have been layered over the large 30, 40 and 50 second numerals leaving only sections of these numbers visible while the 60, 10 and 20 are all fully intact. It does add to the look of a complete use of space which I think looks really nice.
Lume has been applied to the large second numerals (60, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50), the large second markers between them at the 1, 3, 5, 7 and 11 o’clock positions as well as the hour, minute and large second hands. Charging these requires a powerful light source (for example the midday sun) and the glow, although initially acceptable, runs down quick and becomes very weak and would be unpractical for night time applications.
As a reference, with a 5 minute midday sun charge, the lume glow lasted roughly 15 minutes in a darkened room before it was no longer legible. For many this is not a big issue, but if you are reliant on being able to read the time at night without having to switch on a light, it can be a small annoyance.
Movement & Timekeeping
The BOMBERG Bolt 68 Quartz Chronograph runs on the Ronda 3540.D movement. This is a high quality quartz movement similar to those used by brands like Christopher Ward.
Timekeeping is as good as can be expected from a quartz calibre and after a full week of wearing the watch, it gained a mere second even with heavy use of the Chronograph function.
The Chronograph was also tested by running it next to a high accuracy digital stop watch and times matched perfectly for a full 2 hour run.
As with all previous reviews, the BOMBERG Bolt 68 Quartz Chronograph was tested under real conditions. For this review, the watch was used during daily wear as well as when taking part in shallow water activities (pool, no deeper than 2 meters).
When worn with the supplied soft feel silicone strap, the BOMBERG Bolt 68 feels very comfortable on the wrist. It did however take a day or two to adjust to its high profile and the slight protrusion of the crown at the 12 o’clock position. On a small wrist the Bolt 68 has the tendency to fall slightly over the wrist towards the position of the crown which is partly due to the way the strap connects to the watch at the 12 o’clock position. Here the strap forms a pivot point as it can rotate on the pin while the opposite strap attachment at 6 o’clock does not swivel at all. This potentially pushes the watch over the top band slightly, but on medium to larger wrists it is barely noticeable.
The neon bordered minute and hour hands are very visible against the dominantly black background, so reading time is done at a glance. The date window at the 11 to 1 o’clock position looks amazing and reading the centre (active) date, it is very easy.
The seconds wheels on the right of the dial is the smallest wheel of the three wheels on display and the small seconds arrow at the outer edge is fairly easy to spot at a quick glance.
Chronograph & Tachymeter
The Chronograph function on the Bomberg Bolt 68 is very functional and the display is divided into:
– The central sweeping hand (which on conventional watches would be the second hand )
– 1/10 second wheel
– minutes wheel divided into 30 minutes.
When activated, the sweeping seconds hand initiates, as well as the 10th of a second (or sub seconds) wheel. This is quite a nice feature as many Chronographs only display the sub-seconds once the chronograph has been stopped. In order to conserve battery life, the sub-second wheel actually stops turning after the first 30 seconds and will display the final 1/10 of a second once stopped.
For every minute that passes the minute wheel advances by a single minute on a 30 minute scale.
The Tachymeter is merely the scale inscribed around the outer rim of the dial. It is used to compute a speed based on travel time or measure distance based on speed. The spacing between the indicated marks are therefore proportional to 1/t where t is the elapsed time.
The function performed by a tachymeter is independent of the unit of distance (e.g. statute miles, nautical miles, kilometers, meters etc.) as long as the same unit of length is used for all calculations. It can also be used to measure an industrial production process in units per hour. A tachymeter is simply a means of converting elapsed time (in seconds per unit) to speed (in units per hour).
As a sample calculation, if it takes 35 seconds to travel one mile, then the average speed is 103 miles/hour. On the watch, 35 seconds gives a scale value of 103. Similarly, if one kilometer takes 35 seconds then the average speed would be 103 km/hour.
While running Freediving courses and training we often rely on stopwatches to record total breath hold times and dive performance times.
This proved to be the ideal opportunity to put the Chronograph function to the test. Something I really liked was the ability to use the BOMBERG Bolt 68 in its pocket watch configuration which also gives it the perfect feel of a very good looking sports chronograph. Naturally all eyes were on anyone holding this very impressive stopwatch which is of course an added bonus!
Times were tested against a digital chronograph and ignoring the 1/10th of a second wheel, times matched to the second. The only very slight change I would like to see implemented is a slightly softer push button action with less ‘travel’ as starting, stopping and resetting the chronograph does feel a little bit ‘clunky’. This is however a very small detail based on personal preference and by no means a negative mark against the Bolt 68.
As a wristwatch the BOMBERG Bolt 68 is also a great timepiece to wear and use as it was definitely turning heads and getting compliments on almost every single outing. As mentioned before, the timekeeping is impeccable so it is nice having something you can set and forget. The only manual adjustment required is of course the date which needs to be manually advanced in shorter months.
There is a very cool feeling about using a pocket watch which adds to the appeal of wanting to wear a watch like the Bolt 68 in its different configurations.
Having used and worn the BOMBERG Bolt 68 Neon Ice Blue for an extended period of time, I’m more than happy with my personal user experience (even if it is a quartz watch!). It is a functional and fun watch to use in any of its configurations and it really is a watch that gets noticed.
The Neon Ice Blue (and other neon versions) make for great sporty looking watches and the sturdy silicone strap gives it a very sporty look and feel. Another great detail in the silicone strap is the big bold BOMBERG logo running down either side. As what might be perceived as a bit of vanity, this is something I’ve always liked in higher end watches, for example with the rubber straps on my Oris watches.
Regardless of your budget or personal preference, there is surely a Bolt 68 which will fit your style. At the end of this review I highly recommend it as a daily wearer or even collectors piece for those with larger collections (some are limited to 500 individual pieces).
BOMBERG is represented throughout the world and they even have some branded stores, so be sure to have a look at what is on offer. Apart from great looking watches, BOMBERG also has it own range of disruptive bracelets and accessories to compliment your wrist game.
The brand also provides great after sale service and are always at the ready to answer questions or help with servicing advise or to assistance when needed.
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