We first brought you word of the new brand Boxer Watches back in 2012, when we did a hands-on review of the Zeus. A few years on, and they are back with their second model. As with the Zeus, they have gone with a skeletonized movement, this time in a squared-off case. Let’s have a look at the Boxer Watches Black Ice.
As I mentioned, the Black Ice starts off by sort of breaking from the norm, and offering up a rectangular case (35mm x 42mm; 12mm thick). We do not see quite as many of those these days, and when we do, it is rarely showing off a skeleton movement. To keep pricing down, they have gone with a Chinese movement, one that has some similar markings to what we saw in the Armitron Skeleton.
At first blush, the various squiggles and the like are eye catching. To the discerning eye, though, you’ll see that they are simply stamped in to the metal (not engraved), some of which are cut off by the various cutouts that are present. This does look better than plain metal, sure, but you would think a similar improvement could be had just with nicer (but smooth) finishing to the metal.
This continues on to the reverse of the watch, where you can see similar markings on back of the movement and the rotor. On the rotor, the engravings actually do not look too bad, which makes up for the screw that holds it in place. The screw head doesn’t sit flush into the rotor, and looks like something I would pull out from the hardware bin on my workbench – totally utilitarian, not in place to help the aesthetics.
As you can see, we are sort of starting from a rough place with the Boxer Watches Black Ice. Given my experience with the Zeus, I went in to the review wanting to like the watch. Since that original review, though, I have seen a lot more (and well executed) skeletonized movements, and unfortunately, this one just is really not doing it for me.
It it housed in a fairly interesting case for a watch at this pricepoint. The top of the case has a curve to it, upon which the crystal (no, it’s not sapphire) is glued, presenting a smooth look to the front of the watch – almost like what you would expect on a touch screen. Additionally, that crystal has lines that continue up from the lugs, almost like racing stripes, that sort of unify the look.
It is a bit of a shame that the caseback itself does not have any of the curve that we see on the top. This could have helped slim down the watch a bit, and made for a better fit to the wrist. Though, if they went that route, I suppose the automatic winding would have to go, to reclaim some space.
That said, I felt the watch fit fine on my wrist, and with it weighing 70g, it really was not a burden on the wrist. The included croc-pattern strap goes with the watch well (in terms of looks), but it is fairly thin, so I would wonder how well it holds up when it comes to long-term, day-to-day wear. Then again, straps can be a fairly inexpensive (and easy) thing to change out, so that may or may not be an issue for you. What could well be an issue is the readability.
This is an area I have become more critical of when it comes to skeleton watches. It used to be I would go easier on a handset as I was enamored by the overall look of a skeleton watch. That was not really the right way to go about it – the primary function of a watch is to tell time, and if that is difficult, it needs to be called out. Here, we have a rather stylized (and skeletonized) handset in blue, with the hour hand taking the shape of a crown. If you get just the right angle, picking out the hands is not difficult, as the blue handset is slightly shiny (here, a matte finish on the movement would have gone a long way).
That’s the game you end up playing with the Boxer Watches Black Ice, though – getting the right angle to pick out the handset properly, and minimize glare on the curved crystal. With the hands, I think they would have been better served by filling in the open spaces, perhaps with a luminous material. Sure, this would obscure some parts of the movement at times, but it would make for a massive improvement in terms of picking out the time.
With regards to telling time, there is one thing I thought they did rather cleverly. Rather than leaving you to estimate the time based on hand position (which is easy enough to do), you actually have the hour/minute markings showing up on the chapter ring (or whatever it’s called for a square watch). This does come up at a steeper angle from the movement, so it is easy to miss at first. It is there, though. It gives you that added functionality, and calls to my mind those optical illusions where you are made to think that you’re looking down some long hallway.
Coming in at a price of around $287, the Boxer Watches Black Ice is available now. As I mentioned, I went in to the review wanting to like the watch, but in the end, it really just left me wanting. I suppose for someone starting out with mechanical watches it might be a decent introduction, but it is not a watch that is going to sit well with anyone who has experience around watches. If you’re looking for a squared-off watch from Britain, maybe this scratches that itch. If that’s you, you are especially in luck – the code WRISTWATCHREVIEW20 will net you 20% off until February 14. boxerwatches.com
- Brand & Model: Boxer Watches Black Ice
- Price: £189.95 ($287)
- Who’s it for?: You are driven by two criteria – skeleton movement and a square case – and don’t care about anything else
- Would I wear it?: Nope, not really.
- What I’d change: Better/different finishing on the movement, fill in the handset with lume, and get a curved case back in place
- The best thing about it: The chapter ring (square?) that hides until you need it for telling the time.