Today we go hands-on with the Baltic Aquascaphe divers watch. After the success of their Bicompax (three-hander and chronograph models), they introduced their divers watch a while ago for pre-order. Baltic sent us a watch and we take a closer look.
Crowdfunding is an awesome initiative. It allows people or small companies who have great ideas but not the means to still bring those projects to life. At one point, Kickstarter (and Indiegogo) were the hottest thing around on the internet. Many brands that we nowadays know and use came from those sites. They provided (and still provide) opportunities not only for those brands but also for us, the “crowd”. An opportunity to be a part of something special, new, extraordinary. You could stumble upon a great gadget, get it for an affordable price and then see how the company flourishes and concurs the world. And of course, there are watches. In the beginning few – worthy – watch brands came to Kickstarter. Stuckx being one of the most notable names. Lebois & Co. also started there, and of course Baltic. But at some point, these projects turn into real watch brands with their own ways of funding their new watches. Today, we’ll look at the new Baltic model, the Aquascaphe, that can be ordered directly from their website.
We have covered Baltic numerous times on our pages before. Their- first – chronograph, the Baltic Bicompax 001, made it to both Bert’s and Mike’s collection. RJ reported about the Aquascaphe’s launch about a month ago. Even Gerard covered it in one of his “You Asked Us” article. So it’s safe to say that we have given you as much info about the brand as possible. Though it may seem that we have an exceptionally flaming love for Baltic, it’s really not the case. The brand does something that’s worth admiring and reporting about as many other companies do, and we are happy to talk about their ventures. Like the new Aquascaphe, which we finally had the chance to look at a bit closer. To start with, it’s a nice looking watch. The design is new with enough touches of vintage to make it look appealing to a larger audience.
The most prominent vintage features of the watch are the case and definitely the bracelet. Certainly, the dial also has some elements from bygone eras too. The case resembles those first generation diver watches that came out in the late ’50s and ’60s. Round shape, thick lugs, no crown guard but large screw-down crown for easy access with the diving gloves on. The Aquascaphe is 39mm in diameter and 47mm from lug tip to lug tip. Even with the domed crystal, it’s only 12mm thick. Perfect size that is big enough to be modern but not an over the top 42mm+ monstrosity. It’s a 316L steel watch with brushed finish. The only polished areas of the watch are small decorative parts and the center beads-of-rice links of the bracelet. I love that look. Simple, and clean but with the large sapphire unidirectional bezel, it’s rather sporty.
We have seen similar watches before, just think of the Tudor Black Bay family. Though those are reeditions they surely have a great deal of similarity to the Aquascaphe. I find that the drilled lugs are not only a vintage nod but make it easier to swap between the strap and the bracelet. Our review watch is a preproduction model, so it has an empty case back. The final version will obviously be different. The usual details are there such as the model name, crystal type (sapphire), the water resistance (200m) and the fact that the watch comes from France (Assembled in France). Baltic prides itself of being a brand that does assembly in their homeland. While parts are coming from all over the world, as it’s the case with many other large brands too, they put every Baltic watch together near Besançon.
Cream, silver or gilt
The Aquascaphe comes in 3 different dials. This in itself is no big news. However, I feel that each and every dial variation caters to a different audience. Actually, the layout on all 3 is the same. You only find one numeral which is the large 12, the rest of the hours have index markers. 3, 6 and 9 are the vintage-style long triangle index. They are also aperture indexes, making the Aquascaphe’s face some sort of a sandwich-dial. The “decoration” is also very minimalistic; you have the brand name at 12 and the model name plus water resistance over the 6 o’clock index. A cool detail that I like a lot is the lollipop second hand. As I mentioned above, dome crystal protects the dial, giving the Aquascaphe’s dial an awesome 3-dimensional look from side angles. However, the most intriguing feature of the watch is the dial variations.
You can choose between Blue Gilt, Black Silver or Black Cream dials. The design of all 3 is the same. Yet, the way they transform the Aquascaphe is something else. Blue Gilt is a blend of modern and aged-look. The dial has this silky shine that Baltic calls gilt. It’s a special tone and the one I probably like the best. Then we have the Black Silver version, like the one in the photos. As far as I’m concerned this is the most contemporary look. Silver, black and steel goes together perfectly transforming the Aquascaphe to a modern dive watch. Last but not least, the most traditional look; Black Cream. Very similar to the Black Silver but his time you have faux patina. That’s a thing which watch-guys either love or hate. I’m on the fences with it but I feel that if you don’t overdo it, it’s fine.
When a watch is as affordable as the Baltic Aquascaphe, or any Baltic for that matter, you know it comes with a compromise. One of the major concessions of such brand is the movement. This time it is a Miyota (Citizen Group) 9039. That is a 24-jewel automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve and 28.800 Vph. Not that anything is wrong with a Japanese movement. On the contrary. The 9039 is a great caliber, a workhorse of a movement and if it helps Baltic to keep the price of the Aquascaphe low, I’m all in. We should not be so snobbish about these things as long as they are working anyways. And the Miyota is working fine. It worked fine for the 3-hander Baltic and it’s a great addition to the Aquascaphe as well.
Rubber and/or Steel
Another factor that I highlighted at the beginning of the article is the amazingly sturdy beads of rice bracelet on the Aquascaphe. It screams “vintage” from a thousand miles and gives tons of character to the timepiece. Nice thick links, cool old-school clasp, solid end-links, the whole nine yards. If I could have one observation, and you know I will, is the inscription on the clasp. I would’ve either left it off or done in a more sophisticated way. It looks too generic, but it might be different on the final product. Another nice touch is the quick release spring bars that come with the bracelet for easier changing. Of course, if you prefer a rubber strap, Baltic also got your covered. Their vintage Tropic-style strap is actually super nice, absolutely fitting to the watch. If you order the Aquascaphe on the bracelet the rubber comes with it too.
You can order the Baltic Aquascaphe, but you won’t have it before the summer kicks in next year. The delivery time is set to June 2019, perfect for the summer vacation. If you order any dial variations on a rubber strap, the pre-order price is $550 (approximately €482) without VAT. However, if you decide that you need the bracelet, and you should, as well as the rubber (it comes with it anyway) the price is $626 (€549), VAT excluded. Baltic offers a 2-year warranty and free shipping with every watch. That’s a great deal if you ask me. The watch looks nice, has a great wrist presence. You can really choose the version that fits you the best. Price-wise I believe that the asking amount is fair, considering what you are getting. If you are on the market for a diver, the Baltic Aquascaphe is a force to be reckoned with.
Today is the last day you can pre-order this watch with a significant discount, click here.