Baltic is a relatively young brand with relatively unconventional beginnings. Its founder, Etienne Malec, took the risk of launching the company on Kickstarter in 2017 with two models – the Bicompax and HMS – and it paid off. Today, the Bicompax and HMS have become two of the brand’s staple collections, and it’s since added a third: the Aquascaphe.
Baltic first introduced the Aquascaphe back in 2018 as its debut dive watch offering. Today, the brand has built on this popular design with the addition of GMT functionality while retaining the midcentury charm of the beloved diver. We’re excited to welcome Baltic to the HODINKEE Shop with the Aquascaphe GMT.
A Brief Backstory On Baltic
Baltic’s founder, Etienne Malec, inherited a passion for watch collecting from his father, but not in the way you’d expect. Malec didn’t have the chance to know his father well, but he got the unique opportunity to connect with him through his watch collection journal. Here, Malec’s father kept track of every watch he touched throughout his lifetime – the history, the price, the seller, or even the trade in the event of a barter. For Malec, the journal served as a treasure map, leading him to other collectors and eventually a collection of his own.
Over the course of 15 years, he developed the most sincere passion for watches, and this became the impetus to create the Baltic brand. The name perfectly honors his father, a photographer who hailed from northern Poland along the Baltic Sea. And, the watches themselves draw from his father’s collection, with a distinctly vintage aesthetic and a timeless style intended to spark the same desire and fascination in future generations of watch collectors. The rich history of a brand only three years old is pretty astounding, and it shines through in each Baltic watch, in particular the latest addition to the catalog: the Aquascaphe GMT.
Foundations Of The Aquascaphe Collection
The Aquascaphe watches perfectly reflect Malec’s vision and commitment to honor the heritage of traditional watchmaking by incorporating vintage elements, like drilled lugs and a double domed sapphire crystal. Despite the design aesthetic of a midcentury diver, the Aquascaphe models still offer modern functionality. The same double domed sapphire crystal, in combination with a screw down crown, makes the Aquascaphe a collection of true tool watches.
Baltic places equal attention on both usability and legibility, with a straightforward layout, lightweight font, and minimal text. Yet, the overall simplicity of the design doesn’t come at the expense of attention to detail. Baltic incorporates thoughtful elements within those principles of functionality and legibility, like triangle markers at three, six, and nine o’clock. The result is a carefully crafted and refreshingly balanced diver that’s clearly born from the heart of a true watch enthusiast.
The Aquascaphe GMT
With the new Aquascaphe GMT variant, you get all the look, feel, and utility you’ve come to love and expect from the Aquascaphe line with a few upgrades. First, you’ll notice each model features a deep black dial with a glossy finish in place of the more grainy texture of the diver’s black dial. This new finish adds a notable depth to the dial as well as a subtle elegance to an otherwise sporty watch. Both of these elements, the black color and the finish, are highly intentional on Baltic’s part to ensure optimal readability. The brand’s guiding principle here was making it as clean and balanced as possible. However, you still get the thoughtful dial layout of the classic diver, with triangle markers opposite each other at three and nine o’clock along with large circular shapes at the other hour markers, further creating an easy-to-read design.
The Aquascaphe GMT also comes equipped with the same double domed sapphire crystal for a vintage touch and robust build. This, paired with a 39mm, 316L stainless steel case, gives the Aquascaphe GMT a strong presence on the wrist, yet a sophisticated and surprisingly slim profile of just 10mm (or 12mm, including the glass). The line offers the option of either a stainless steel bracelet or a rubber strap. With the bracelet design, we see the same “beads of rice” style from the original Aquascaphe diver, which drives home the distinctly 1960s look and feel of the watch. Yet, the performance of the bracelet is equally impressive. It features a buckle with seven micro-adjustment positions to fit any wrist size. Alternatively, the rubber strap features a tropic style and soft, lightweight design. Both variants, the bracelet and the strap, make the Aquascaphe GMT extremely comfortable to wear.
Another key area of focus for the Aquascaphe GMT is the bezel. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the bold colorway compared to previous models in the Aquascaphe collection. Here, you get three two-tone variations, each with a base of deep blue and the option of green, orange, or a more subtle grey for the second color. While this undoubtedly adds aesthetic interest and an overtly playful tone to the collection, the choice is, once more, rooted in the interest of high functionality. The two-tone bezel design seamlessly distinguishes between day and night hours. In place of the previous unidirectional dive bezel, the Aquascaphe GMT is equipped with a new 24 clicks bidirectional rotating bezel, which facilitates the read of a second time zone along with the fourth hand on the dial.
This, of course, brings us to the focal point of the Aquascaphe GMT: the GMT hand itself. This fourth hand can be effortlessly operated via the large, easily adjustable crown. It rotates in 24 hours around the dial and uses the bezel’s graduation to allow direct and precise reading of a second time zone. Along with the GMT functionality, this model gets the addition of a date aperture. With this complication, Baltic further demonstrates the union of form and function with the date window perfectly balancing the dial by its placement at six o’clock in place of the triangle marker on the original diver. To power the new functionality of the GMT and date complications, Baltic has chosen to use a Swiss movement from the Soprod manufacturer. The C125 is an automatic movement known for its robustness, reliability, and precision, and it offers a power reserve of 42 hours. Altogether, this particular watch offers one of the strongest value propositions of this year – you get a great GMT function on either a stainless steel bracelet or rubber strap for just over $ 1,000.
Discover The New Aquascaphe GMT In The HODINKEE Shop
At this price point, no GMT seems to marry form and function quite as eloquently as Baltic’s Aquascaphe GMT. This is an admirable tool watch with a straightforward design that’s highly utilitarian yet equal parts classic and playful. If you’re looking for a quintessential dual-timer, the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT fits the bill. However, what really sets this watch apart can’t be categorized on a spec sheet.
The Aquascaphe GMT reminds us that what makes a great watch is far more than aesthetic or utility. What makes a great watch is a great story, and the foundation on which the Baltic brand and this watch were built provides just that. The Aquascaphe GMT isn’t just another affordable dual-timer. It’s a conversation piece. It’s the next destination on the treasure map you’re creating for future generations with your watch collection. Continue writing your story with the Aquascaphe GMT by heading over to the HODINKEE Shop.