TheTimeBum Bolm Automaton Daylight

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Sweden’s Bolm Automaton Daylight caught my eye right away. It has a buff, tool quality but it isn’t a diver or field watch; rather, it is designed to measure available daylight by means of a slide rule bezel and a rotating map display. Now, you may very well ask yourself why you need a daylight feature on your watch when you can easily look it up on your phone, but of course, that is equally true for telling time, isn’t it? Regardless of their practical utility, the Daylight’s displays are both clever and attractive, adding a dose of modern industrial character to an already sound design.


The Daylight’s brushed stainless steel case is rated for 100m water resistance and has a flat, AR-coated, sapphire crystal. Regular readers know I dig domes, but on this watch, I much prefer it flat as a vintage throwback like that wouldn’t make sense. It measures 41.4mm wide, just under 52mm long, and 13mm thick. Oddly, it is constructed of 304 stainless instead of the more common and salt-resistant 316L. Bolm offers three variations: all black, black bezel on steel case and dial, and the review sample’s steel case and bezel with a black dial. Chisled lugs, slab sides, and a deeply set dial convey the solid look one expects from a tool watch. At the same time, the arc of the case profile, convex caseback, angled bezel, and a crown tucked neatly away at the 10 o’clock position streamline the watch. The sparse, fine-lined engraving in the unique bezel insert makes the face appear smaller in relation to the case (at least on this steel insert version) further minimizing its bulk. One would hardly call the Daylight small, but the overall impression is lean and modern.



The knurled edge, ratcheting bezel moves smoothly through its detents in both directions. It lacks the firmness of the best diving bezels, but the bigger problem is that it has detents at all. Given its slide rule function, a simple friction bezel would have made it far easier to position the markers. I also wish the crown had been knurled to match instead of fluted, but this is a minor quibble. The crown is signed with the Bolm bar logo and is large enough to operate easily in spite of its close proximity to the lug.

Through the polished caseback’s mineral window is a Seiko NH37a 24-jewel, 21.6k bph automatic movement. A close cousin to the more familiar NH35, it features Diashock protection, a 41-hour power reserve, and both hacking and hand winding capabilities. Most importantly for this application, it also has a 24-hour indicator, the 6 o’clock position of which necessitates the uncommon crown placement.



A trio of white hands dominates the Daylight’s dial. They are long, fairly broad, and terminate in clipped tips. Interestingly, they differ primarily in their degree of taper: a fatter hour hand, a thinner and more wedge-shaped minute hand, and a needle-like second hand. They present an interesting contrast to the small white bars of the hour markers. I did notice one quality control issue in the form of dodgy masking between the white and black sections. You need to look closely, but this should have been caught.



Blom managed to squeeze their logo, full name, and model name at the top of the dial and sized it all appropriately so it does not unbalance the otherwise open space. It is small, but their choice of typeface (Futura?) kept it legible. If you are really looking closely, you will spot “Automatic, 100 Meters” wrapped below the index at the very bottom.



The 24-hour indicator occupies the bottom half, and it is the first of the two daylight functions on this watch. The wheel is an intricately cut map of the northern hemisphere viewed from the north pole. It rotates over a graduated field of white to black, signifying day and night. Of course, there are two important limitations to this reading: it is only an am/pm indicator, so it does not account for seasonal differences, and it is set up for Stockholm, so unless you live in Central European time zone or exactly on the other side of the northern hemisphere, it will be impossible to set it to correspond with your local time.

It is a sharp looking dial, and the shimmer created by a concentric surface texture only heightens the effect, but attractive as it is, it does compromise a bit of utility. The map is a mere decoration for most of the world, but I can live with that. After all, unless you live underground, underwater, or at one of the earth’s poles, you can probably glean that information from your nearest window. What I found more troubling was the complete absence of lume. It seems like an odd omission on a watch so focused on daylight or lack of same. Some BGW9 on those hands and markers would have looked amazing.



Now, let’s focus on that bezel. It is the most distinctive element on the watch, the one that imparts the most character and inspires its name. The very fact that it isn’t another countdown or dive timer earns high marks in my book. To use it, you choose one of four cities: Stockholm, New York, Los Angeles, or Tokyo. Each city has a corresponding band on the movable outer bezel with 12 marks at irregular intervals representing months. Line up the first marker before your city with the top center marker, then match your current month to the hours marked on the inner bezel. So, for example, New York has just over 10 hours of daylight in January, 14 hours in May, and looking past the 24-hour mark and counting backward down the other side, about 14.5 hours in August. Its form is fantastic, but its function takes some practice, particularly since the scales overlap so it is not always easy to decipher which mark belongs to what city.



The watch comes with a thick, 22mm leather strap. Its edges are painted and it has no stitching to disrupt that satiny smooth blackness. It fastens with a 20mm brushed stainless steel buckle that is signed on its spade-like frame. I’m often quick to change a stock strap, but in this case, I really like the look; the no-nonsense leather complements the Daylight’s slightly futuristic instrument appearance. Black nylon or smooth rubber would be equally at home.

In the end, I’m kind of torn over the Daylight. I think it is a winner in terms of overall design and wearability; however, it comes up short in certain practical areas like the ratcheting bezel and lack of lume. Even the daylight functions have me split. I love the look of the map and bezel, but the farther you get from Stockholm, the less useful they are. It all comes down to the question of form or function. If you are a stickler for function, then you will likely be disappointed. If you can put that aside and simply enjoy its strange, Scandinavian beauty, then the Daylight will be a fine addition to your collection.

You can purchase a Bolm Automaton Daylight for $499 USD directly from bolmwatches.com. ⬩




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