This inconsistency of width and stress angle was present in the original metal type family, and was carried through to digital versions of Times New Roman. It’s one of the many reasons Times has an undeserved place as a default serif for text. In fact, the reason it became so widely used today has more to do with PostScript technology and business deals than its own merits.
The sources for both digital versions — Monotype’s Times New Roman and Linotype’s Times (shown above) — really suffer from this condensed bold. At first I thought this was the result of duplexing, the practice of casting multiple styles and weights on the same width, but Walter Tracy in Letters of Credit says that wasn’t a requirement for the project and indeed Roman and Bold widths differ. In fact, many Bold letters are actually narrower, resulting in counters reduced to mere slits in some cases.
Fortunately, the Semi Bold weights from both digital families, especially Monotype’s (perhaps based on the metal Times New Roman 421 Semi-Bold) do not suffer quite as much from this.
There are also other interpretations of Times that are not compromised in this way, and the result is much more clear and confident. Yes, it takes up more space; but this style needs to — especially for text.
One is Berthold’s Times 421 (shown above) which, despite the name, is not the same as Monotype’s Series 421 in metal. Unfortunately, it is not available digitally.
Starling is a digital option that does maintain stress angle and open counters throughout its weights, but it’s still more of a display face.
Another digital family, slightly further afield but quite functional as a Times replacement, is Kris Sowersby’s Tiempos, which happens to be the type you’re reading right now!
This sample of Tiempos Text Bold demonstrates how it is much more consistent with the Regular compared to the Times Bolds, and much sturdier. It remains legible despite a nearly vertical stress angle and very heavy weight.
By the way, there were metal alternatives, too. Tracy mentions that the German Linotype company sought to fix the problem as early as 1935:
“This disparity in style between the roman and bold was evidently something the German Linotype company thought should be eliminated. In the version of Times Roman they issued in 1935, first called Neue Romanisch but then named Toscana, the bold lowercase was redesigned in the ‘old style’ mode. The idea of harmonising the bold with the roman was logical; the actual execution, especially the character spacing, was not well done. The type soon disappeared.”