A lot of watch for not a lot of money.
I have a soft spot for vintage-inspired timepieces, particularly those of the dive variety. This fascination coupled with my newfound curiosity of the microbrand watch scene recently outlined here by our contributing watch writer Karlton was what guided my decision to order the Baltic Aquascaphe in black/cream on a beads of rice bracelet.
While there already exist many other extremely helpful hands-on reviews of the Baltic Aquascaphe, my hope is that sharing my own experience wearing this watch may serve as additional reference material for those considering adding the Aquascaphe to their current watch collection.
Baltic is a small French watch brand that came to market in 2017. Their focus, which truly shines in the Aquascaphe, is creating timeless, high-quality timepieces at a fair price. The brand’s transparency regarding production is commendable. Every component in their watches is sourced form various manufacturers, with each timepiece then being assembled at their headquarters in France.
This process allows Baltic watches to remain inside an affordable, 3-figure price in contrast to other brands like Rolex or Tudor who build their own movements and other parts in-house.
- Price: $630+
- Case Diameter: 39mm
- Movement: Miyota 9039 Automatic
- Crystal: Double-Domed Sapphire
- Case: Stainless Steel 316L
- Water Resistance: 200 Meters
- Thickness: 12mm
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Lug to Lug: 47mm
How it Fits
The 39mm diameter really hits the sweet spot, even for my larger 7.5″ wrist and feels exactly what one would think a smaller dive watch from 70 years ago would feel like. An easy comparison to make is against the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, since the BB58 is my everyday watch at the time of writing this.
On the beads of rice bracelet, the Aquascaphe wears much smaller than the Tudor BB58, despite both having relatively the same overall thickness, lug to lug length, lug width, and case diameter. I attribute this phenomenon to both the form-fitting beads of rice bracelet, and the Aquascaphe’s much thinner midcase afforded to it via the outsourced Miyota 9039 movement versus Tudor’s in-house Calibre MT5402.
Although it wears small, it’s not too small. It feels substantial, decidedly vintage, and quite rugged on the wrist. Where the Tudor BB58 wears more like a 40mm submariner (thanks to a thick slab of a mid case), in my personal opinion, the Baltic wears very much like a 39mm watch.
The Aquascaphe is now available in 5 different dial variations, which include the Black and Cream dial reviewed here, black and silver, blue gilt, white, and a second black and silver variant with a steel-colored bezel. The Aquascaphe dial is textured, which is most prominent in direct sunlight and features sandwiched dial markers at the 3, 6, and 9 positions that seems to add a bit of depth to the otherwise minimal dial layout.
The dial seems a bit too minimal to me personally, with too much blank space even in the sunlight. I believe this is exaggerated specifically on the gilted model with the cream markers, which seem to almost disappear into the black dial in less than bright lighting conditions.
I simply love this bezel. My three favorite things about the Baltic Aquascaphe are its bracelet (more on that below) its domed sapphire crystal, and its bezel. In classic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms style, the Aquascaphe’s unidirectional timing bezel is minimal and fits in seamlessly with the overall minimalist style of the watch’s dial, with lightweight numbers visible at the 3, 6, and 9 positions.
The most interesting things about the bezel are that it is both lumed and coated in sapphire, which makes it nearly impervious to wear and tear. The sapphire bezel makes the Aquascaphe feel even more substantial at its fairly affordable price point.
The Aquascaphe is available in your choice of either a Tropic rubber strap or a beads of rice bracelet. Whichever one you choose, the other can be added for an additional charge. I recommend the beads of rice bracelet for two reasons. First, the beads of rice fits the wrist well, is substantial yet lightweight, and helps round out the Aquascaphe’s overall vintage aesthetic. Second, the beads of rice bracelet features a quick-release mechanism or “easy bars” as the brand calls it, which makes changing the bracelet out much easier than other similar bracelets.
The only negative thing I can say about the bracelet, which isn’t anything negative about the watch itself, is that removing a link in the beads of rice bracelet will truly try your patience, as i had to remove one myself. This is pretty common for any beads of rice bracelet, however. Luckily, the Aquascaphe’s BOR bracelet has 7 micro-adjust settings, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find the perfect fit without needing to remove a link or two.
The Baltic Aquascaphe is outfitted with a Miyota 9039 automatic-winding movement. This is a 28,800 beats per hour, 24-jewel, no date version of the miyota 9015 hacking movement. Its thinner than it’s 9015 movement counterpart and comes with 42 hours of power reserve, although i’ve only been able to see 28-32 hours of reserve since owning the watch. This is the first watch i’ve owned with a Miyota movement, but I’ve had no problems with it keeping time thus far. Only time will tell (pun intended).
Overall, the Baltic Aquascaphe is a well-built dive watch with attention to detail and sold at a very agreeable price. Baltic is one of the few watch microbrands out there paying attention to their customers. The brand was extremely responsive when I reached out to them about a question regarding the watch’s crown. With sapphire throughout, a vintage design that doesn’t rely too much on the vintage watches that preceded it, a thoughtfully-designed bracelet, and a near-perfect 39mm size, the Aquascaphe is a solid choice for both the serious diver and desk diver alike.
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