BOMBERG WATCHES: PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT
Let’s get one thing clear right out of the gate: BOMBERG aren’t subtle. And this isn’t just in terms of their design, either. Their advertising is aggressive, bold, and confrontational, whilst their company rhetoric is confident enough to boast that their collections “reinterpret and completely overturn classic watchmaking rules.”
In this way, BOMBERG is like an MMA fighter: Muscular, aggressive, and unashamedly masculine. They’ve entered the watchmaking ring and they’ve come out swinging.
Admittedly, this kind of approach isn’t what you’d usually expect from a Swiss watch manufacturer. Usually, you would expect there to be talk of elegance and refinement, of tradition and heritage. Not so with BOMBERG. Their approach is unexpected and, much like a slap to the face, you are left momentarily stunned, yet suddenly very focused. And there is a lot to focus on.
The two watches we saw, the 1968 and the BOLT-68, were both quite a departure from what you might expect from a traditional wristwatch.
The 1968, for example, has a rather unique case, which curves and widens dramatically, setting the face at an inclined angle. The lugs seem strangely unbalanced, with two shorter lugs at the top and two sweeping lugs at the bottom of the case. The knurled crown and the pushers are set in a bullhorn configuration, which gives the watch a decidedly retro feel, like a motorsports watch from the late 60s or early 70s. At 18.5mm at its widest point, the case feels a little excessive, a little too solid, and well machined, like something ripped from the instrument cluster of a racecar.
All of this seems to be counterintuitive, until you strap one on your wrist. The curve of the caseback means the watch follows the contours of your wrist, creating a snug and comfortable fit. The angled face actually makes the watch easier to read, as you barely need to turn your wrist. The bullhorn pushers and crown make the watch essentially ambidextrous and allow for easy use of the chronograph function. The shorter top lugs mean that the pushers are easily accessed, whether you’re wearing the watch or holding it in your palm like a traditional stopwatch.
The dial takes most of its cues from those late 60s racing watches, with bold numerals, an angled chapter ring tachymeter, although the primary index is a little unusual in that it features the minutes/seconds, with the hours being relegated to a central partial subdial, featuring 12 and 6 as numerals and 11, 1, 5, and 7 as markers. The subdials are framed in molded plate and set at 3 (active seconds) and 9 (60 minute totaliser), and there’s a small date window at approximately the 5 o’clock position. The straight, partially skeletonised sword hands have a Luminova coated section for increased visibility, although, it has to be said that the lume is a little weak. The domed mineral crystal is an anti-reflective and sapphire coated and the straps are soft leather that has been partially perforated to give it a rally look, with a metal buckle bearing the BOMBERG logo – a logo, incidentally, that wouldn’t look out of place on a supercar.
Continuing with the motorsport idioms, let’s take a look under the hood. The movement for the 1968 is the Swiss made Ronda 352OD quartz chronograph calibre with date complication, allowing BOMBERG to legitimately put “Swiss made” on the dial. For those of you who recoil at the idea of a quartz watch, it should be stated that this is a very reliable quartz movement, with an accuracy of about -10 /+ 20 seconds a month. The battery life is pretty good, too, when compared against other quartz chronographs, and you’d be looking to replace it once every four-and-a-half years. Whatever your feeling on quartz watches, at the end of the day, this is a good quality movement for the price point.
Then we have the latest model in the collection, the BOLT-68.
The BOLT-68 takes a step further in terms of design innovation than the 1968. Where the 1968 boasts a curving, solid case, the BOLT-68 instead features a rather neat piece of engineering. Twist the knurled central case anti-clockwise and the whole central case comes away, leaving the caseback, lugs, and strap on your wrist and essentially presenting you with a stopwatch. But each of the BOLT-68’s also come with a medallion housing for the central case that connects to a chunky chain and Japan hook, which turns the BOLT-68 into a very modern take on the pocket watch. All this might seem a little gimmicky, but it actually is aimed directly at their target market. Considering that their advertising centres on the young, edgy, tattooed hipster, the pocket watch is actually rather a neat idea. Admittedly, it isn’t a completely original one, as we’ve seen something similar from Bovet, however the whole look and feel is an entirely different proposition from Bovet’s model.
The watch itself is satisfyingly chunky and, when handling it, there is a feeling of a well-engineered timepiece. When reconnecting the chronograph to the wristwatch case, you feel the components clicking together in a solid and gratifyingly mechanical way.
Like the 1968, the knurled crown and oval pushers are in a bullhorn configuration, but the watch sits flatter on the wrist than the 1968. So, whilst a BOLT-68 won’t exactly slip effortlessly under the cuff of your evening shirt, it will look great on your wrist as you twist the throttle of your custom café racer.
The face is somewhat different to the 1968, too, with a wide, panoramic date window at 12 o’clock and subdials at 3, 6, and 9, but still featuring the angled chapter ring tachymeter and large minutes. Oddly, there appears to be no hour markers, but that won’t stop you from being able to tell the time.
The hands are solid straight sword with Luminova insets and a military second hand that has the BOMBERG logo as a counterweight.
Inside the case, there is the Swiss made Ronda 354OD quartz movement. However, for you purists, there are also automatic models available featuring Swiss made mechanical movements, albeit at a steeper price point.
Overall, the BOLT-68 and the 1968 models are bold and directional timepieces, with a retro feel, aimed squarely at the darker, edgier, rock n’ roll crowd, so it’s hardly surprising they already adorn the wrists of legends like Alice Cooper, Slash, Tommy Lee, and Gene Simmons.
Bold, brash, unapologetic, the BOMBERG watches are the antithesis of reserved, conservative style, and sometimes that can be exactly the breath of fresh air you’re after.
Trakke Bags: Handmade in ScotlandJune 23rd, 2016
Corniche Heritage 40 watch reviewDecember 17th, 2015
Infinities and Paul Smith for great giftsNovember 21st, 2015
Bachelor’s Box November ReviewNovember 19th, 2015