Parisian microband Baltic has, in a comparatively brief time, created one of many extra thrilling microbrands in current reminiscence. Based by Etienne Malec by way of Kickstarter in 2017, Baltic’s first watch, the Aquascaphe, was and is a superbly executed but cheap tackle the outdated Fifty Fathoms diver design, modernized simply sufficient to be its personal watch. Watch fans responded by not solely funding effectively past preliminary Kickstarter targets, but in addition by snapping up all of Baltic’s subsequent Aquascaphe deliveries briefly order. With some cash in its pocket, Baltic then set its sights on an equally charming time-only watch, the HMS, in addition to a particularly well-priced classic Bicompax chronograph, earlier than including a number of Aquascape variations to the vary.
Up so far in its historical past, every thing Baltic produced was primarily based on the same course of, with circumstances and actions from Asia, straps sourced from France, and different equipment and parts from Italy. Baltic is totally clear about its provide course of, which is refreshing. As soon as all of the components are readily available, Paris-based Baltic’s watches are assembled in France’s historic house of watchmaking, Besançon. Once more increasing the profitable Aquascaphe vary, Baltic has simply launched its first substantive replace to the diver’s mannequin that introduced the model notoriety.
The brand new Baltic Aquascaphe GMT is, like its older sibling, a 200-meter, computerized, vintage-styled diver’s watch with a domed sapphire crystal and a well-known skin-diver-meets-Fifty-Fathoms case form. Nonetheless, the place earlier updates consisted of various dial colours, bezel inserts, or case supplies, the Aquascaphe GMT is, and also you may see this coming, outfitted with a second time-zone operate enabled by the Swiss Soprod C125, in addition to a bidirectional sapphire lumed bezel.
The brand new watch’s soar in motion spec from Miyota to a extra difficult Soprod, in addition to a change in origin from Hong Kong to Switzerland, naturally has an impact on worth, with the brand new Aquascaphe GMT debuting at 1000 Euros or about $1,200, $500 greater than the usual mannequin.
Given my well-documented love of watches and all issues underwater, in addition to my background as a business diver, I discover Baltic’s Aquascaphe GMT an intriguing watch, one I used to be completely happy to take for a spin on this Wrist Time evaluation. For the touring diver’s watch fanatic, a number of questions have probably arisen by now: Are these adjustments definitely worth the substantial upcharge in comparison with the already established and well-respected Aquascaphe so many know and love? Is the colourful new Aquascaphe GMT price its worth? And, after all, is the brand new watch extra croissant et café or masks and fins?
A Acquainted Case Form
A part of what endeared the unique Aquascaphe to the plenty was its case form and measurement. At a really cheap 39mm in width and solely 47mm lug to lug, the Aquascape GMT is nearly the identical as the unique, and wears effectively on all however maybe the very largest wrists, presenting a classic profile additionally aided by a superb, vintage-style, domed sapphire crystal, which nonetheless solely brings the piece to a modest 12mm thickness. This compact presentation is demonstrative of what seems to be an industry-wide downsizing development, of which Tudor’s Black Bay 58 and Seiko’s SPB153 and SPB143 are all glorious examples. As a smaller-wristed man (6.25” even after a number of curls), I’m all the time completely happy to see manufacturers taking part in towards smaller circumstances and particularly shorter lug-to-lug measurements.
Sizing apart, the ending on the Aquascaphe GMT case is, once more, kind of the identical as its forebear, with easy brushing throughout and simple case structure with 90-degree angles and no beveling or different elaborations to be discovered. A signed screw-down crown lives in its common place, and aside from a very cool, GMT-model-specific caseback, the brand new Aquascaphe case is restrained, utilitarian even. Given the tool-watch strategy of the design, the straightforward ending is all effectively and good, although there are actually extra finely completed watches on this worth vary for many who recognize such issues. Given the upcharge related to the brand new motion, it might have been cool to see Baltic throw in a sophisticated bevel or two, but it surely isn’t a dealbreaker for me and sure gained’t be for you, both.
Dial and (A lot of) Fingers
When manufacturers begin including issues to established designs, issues can get out of hand shortly. It’s simple to do an excessive amount of. Fortunately, Baltic’s integration of a brand new leaping GMT hour hand hasn’t upset the watch’s steadiness. That is nonetheless very a lot an Aquascaphe dial, with a 12 o’clock numeral paired with in any other case round or triangular indices, every stuffed with Tremendous-LumiNova. Easy polished stick arms enable the brand new, brightly coloured GMT hand with a sophisticated triangle at its level to essentially shine. Dial textual content is pleasantly minimal, with “Baltic” printed in grey on my blue and grey variant, in addition to “Aquascape” printed in blue at 6 o’clock and “GMT” printed in white slightly below.
Nonetheless, completely different from the unique Aquascaphe, the GMT’s dial is printed, versus a sandwich-style development on the usual watch. One other novel function right here is the inclusion of a date window, positioned symmetrically within the six o’clock place, a glance I feel actually works with out making the dial too busy. Pondering again, that is truly the model’s first watch with a date operate, a complication that makes numerous sense given the journey orientation inherent in a GMT watch design. For lume aficionados, C1 Tremendous-LumiNova is evenly utilized on the hour markers and the entire arms, in addition to the sapphire bezel. Whereas the lume is sufficient, and glows visibly via the night time, it isn’t terribly vivid in comparison with some rivals, and should depart some lume-thirsty fans wanting, particularly in the event you’re coming straight over from a Seiko diver, for instance.
From Miyota to Soprod
In fact, the star of the present right here, and certainly the first cause for the substantial upcharge, is the inclusion of a Swiss-made GMT caliber within the type of the Soprod C125 powering the Aquascape GMT. For many who aren’t acquainted, Soprod is a part of the Festina Group and one of some motion producers (additionally together with Sellita) that’s offering manufacturers an alternative choice to the beforehand near-ubiquitous ETA, a subsidiary of the world-dominating Swatch Group.
The C125 is a 25-jewel computerized with 42 hours of energy reserve and a well-known 28,800 fee. Much like the connection between the ETA 2892 and 2893, the C125 consists of a base motion (the M100 on this case) with an added module for the GMT operate. Subsequently, just like the ETA 2893, the C125 with its quickset GMT hand isn’t a “true” GMT motion, which might have a quickset native hour hand. If this distinction issues to you at this worth level, it shouldn’t, as I don’t know of a “true” GMT caliber for anyplace close to the Aquascaphe GMT’s worth. Somebody appropriate me sarcastically within the feedback if I’m unsuitable.
For me, the C125 has run superbly, conserving correct time each at house in Miami and 6 hours forward in France, the place I lived for a few months and nonetheless keep up a correspondence with a number of mates. I additionally work with a global staff and revel in with the ability to set the watch’s second time zone to ease collaboration with colleagues overseas. In fact, this watch is imagined as a journey piece, and I’m assured it might do effectively in that regard ought to the world ever return to any type of normalcy. I’ve my fingers crossed.
From the outset, Baltic has executed a high-quality job within the strap and bracelet division, providing a superb signed beads-of-rice bracelet that matches the entire model’s watches, one thing actually handy in the event you start to gather them, as many do. The bracelet is all stable hyperlinks, with polished beads and brushed outer hyperlinks, tapers from 20mm to 18mm, and it has a signed, vintage-feeling clasp. It’s actually well-executed and appears nice on this watch and others from the model.
If the bracelet isn’t your factor, the Aquascaphe GMT can be accessible on a pure rubber tropic-style strap, once more with a signed buckle. This specific rubber strap is close to excellent, tapers from 20mm to 16mm, and is snug on the wrist whereas immediately granting the watch a extra informal, aquatic really feel. For the worth, this strap and bracelet are each nice choices, although the 20mm lug-width means the Aquascaphe will be worn on just about something you have got laying round. It does effectively on a grey Nato, for instance.
In all, the Baltic Aquascaphe is a big replace to the unique mannequin, with some professional utility in-built. Given Baltic’s success with this household of watches, I’d wager that we’ll see extra variations in due time. For me, there’s no denying the clear, enticing design of this watch, which shares numerous DNA with the Zodiac Aerospace however not in a method that feels prefer it was copied however quite designed based on related rules at the same time. Like the unique Baltic Aquascaphe, this watch feels distinctive, balancing simply sufficient modernity with tastefully crafted classic design parts in a rugged-enough construct for instrument watch use, although this piece strikes me as a bit extra refined. Frankly, I want extra manufacturers would work with this idea. Many divers (in non-pandemic instances) journey to unique locales to dive, and so the GMT operate makes numerous sense, whereas not likely taking away from a dive watch’s utility.
For the ocean-going traveler, the brand new Aquascaphe GMT is among the most engaging choices on the market for a GMT diver, and it feels definitely worth the considerably larger worth in comparison with the usual mannequin. For a microbrand that retains creating fascinating watches for an ever-growing fanbase, this piece is yet one more step in the fitting route. The Baltic Aquascaphe GMT is out there both on a rubber strap for $1,100 USD or a chrome steel bracelet for $1,200 USD, relying on change charges. For extra data, go to www.baltic-watches.com.
>Mannequin: Aquascaphe GMT
>Worth: $1,100 on rubber strap or $1,200 on beads-of-rice type bracelet.
>Dimension: 39mm-wide, 12mm-thick, and 47mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally put on it: As a warm-weather journey watch with sufficient water resistance for aquatic actions.
>Buddy we’d advocate it to first: The fan of traditional dive watch design who travels internationally.
>Greatest attribute of watch: The mixture of a Swiss GMT caliber and Baltic’s now-signature aesthetics.
>Worst attribute of watch: The clasp on the beads-of-rice bracelet leaves a bit to be desired.