The brainchild of Etienne Malec, a young Frenchman who has inherited his father’s passion for watches, Baltic has moved from a Kickstarter project to a proper brand with its own identity and a growing collection. Relatively accessible and made with a sheer passion for the golden age of tool watches, Baltic has gained the respect of the collecting community with desirable vintage-inspired models, such as the Bi-Compax or the Aquascaphe. Today, it’s another classic of the sports watch that Baltic is releasing, a greatly designed and retro-styled traveller’s watch, also marking a step up in terms of perceived quality. We take a look at the new Baltic Aquascaphe GMT.
The Aquascaphe Diver’s watch next to the new Aquascaphe GMT
An evolution of the Aquascaphe concept
This new GMT by Baltic owes much to the dive watch introduced by the brand in 2019. With this in mind, it makes clear that Baltic now has two well-differentiated collections. On one side are the classic watches, inspired by glorious 1940s models – such as hand-wound chronographs and Calatrava-styled dress watches. On the other side are the sports watches, with the aforementioned Aquascaphe dive watch and its evolutions, such as this bronze edition. The new GMT enters in the latter category and is based, in terms of design and specifications, on the diver’s model.
As such, the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT stays true to the nicely designed case of the collection, with its instrumental, rugged look and fully brushed surfaces. Oversized crown, drilled lugs, straight casebands without crown guard, raised bezel with coin-edge profile… all these elements are paying tribute to early sports watches from the 1950s and 1960s. Also, the proportions of the original watch have been respected, despite the new complication.
The Baltic Aquascaphe GMT is a rather compact watch compared to the market standards. It comes in a 39mm diameter, with a height of “only” 12mm, crystal included – which is quite thin considering the average dimensions of current dive and sports watches. The 47mm lug-to-lug measurement also makes it a restrained watch, yet with some presence – necessary on a sports watch. Well-balanced and well-proportioned, the case is still participating a lot in the charm of this watch. Something that the ultra-domed sapphire crystal on top of the watch only reinforces.
New traveller’s features
Despite being based on the existing diver’s model, the new Baltic Aquascaphe GMT goes a bit further than just adding an extra hand on its dial. In fact, dial, hands, indexes, bezel and movement have been changed to give this watch a slightly more technical look, with more refinement.
First evolution, the classic 60-minute unidirectional bezel has been replaced by an appropriate 24-hour, bi-directional bezel – with 24 clicks. The insert is still executed in sapphire crystal, again an ode to past watches equipped with bakelite bezels. Classically, the bezel has a two-tone colour scheme to separate day from night. Three different colours are available, all with the night-time section in dark blue. First is the present light green model, which adds a discreet touch of eccentricity and colour. Here, the GMT hand is colour-matched. If you want something more classic, you can opt for the grey version, with light blue accents on the dial. Finally, on the other side of the spectrum, there’s a bold orange version, with a vivid combination of colours.
In all cases, the bezel acts smoothly and allows to display a third time zone, in addition to the local and home time displayed on the dial. Talking about it, the dial is also new to this Aquascaphe GMT, differing from the diver’s model in finishing and design – the latter having a matte or sun-brushed surface, with sandwich construction. For its GMT watch, Baltic has opted for something more refined, yet still totally relevant for a vintage-inspired watch. The dial, which is still domed, has now a glossy black finishing, which might create more reflections but also adds some charm to this watch. The painted indexes have been redesigned, with the triangular markers having a rounded profile. The Super-LumiNova coating has been executed in white, replacing the beige of the diver’s watch.
Also, you’ll note that the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT features slightly bolder hands than before and that it is equipped with a date function, something that makes complete sense on a traveller’s watch. It is positioned at 6 o’clock, and displayed by a tone-on-tone disc. During the day, the contrast is very good and during the night, both the dial and the bezel are largely filled with luminous material, making this watch very capable in low light conditions.
Regarding technical specifications, the water-resistance is now 100m, instead of 200m on the Aquascaphe Diver. Still, the watch retains its screw-down crown and solid steel caseback.
An upgraded quality
Under the stainless steel caseback with a dedicated engraving – with a world map and main time zones – is a new movement. While all Baltic watches until now were equipped with Asian movements (Miyota or Seagull), the brand has decided to give its Aquascaphe GMT some Swiss-made mechanics, with a movement sourced from Soprod – an established movement maker that works on ETA architectures.
The Soprod C125 GMT is a clone of the ETA 2893, itself a GMT evolution of the tried-and-tested ETA 2892. With 25 jewels and a 4Hz frequency, the C125 is a classic and reliable option that adds to the overall perceived quality of the watch. It has a power reserve of 42 hours and the GMT function is actuated by the crown – it’s a so-called desk GMT watch, since the crown adjust the GMT hand by one-hour increments and not the local time (like all ETA-based movements). A stop-seconds and quick date are also included.
In addition to this mechanical upgrade, I’ve also noticed that the whole watch has been refined. For instance, the case feels better defined and better adjusted then past models, with cleaner lines and even more appreciable firm clicks for the bezel. In the same vein, the handsome “bead of rice” stainless steel bracelet, something that is greatly participating in the appeal of the watch, feels tighter than before and better adjusted with the case.
Note that the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT is also available on a black tropic-like rubber strap, with steel pin buckle. The steel bracelet is equipped with quick-release spring bars, allowing you to remove it within seconds. The folding clasp comes with micro-adjustment too – 7 different positions.
Availability & price
The Baltic Aquascaphe GMT is available as of today on the dedicated page at baltic-watches.com. The watch isn’t released as a limited edition, but the first models will be numbered from 1 to 600. It will be priced at EUR 1,105 on rubber strap and EUR 1,200 on stainless steel bracelet.
More details at baltic-watches.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.