Dive watches are the go-to accessory for fun in the sun and the most robust and reliable companion for outdoor sports. Continuing our coverage of watches with solid content and budget prices, we will take a closer look at the latest Aquascaphe diver from the French independent brand Baltic, founded by Etienne Malec. Equipped with a seaworthy bronze hull, the model features a black sapphire crystal inlay on the bezel, a delectable chocolate dial and winning neo-vintage looks. Although it references design cues from some of the most emblematic dive watches of the 1950s, the Aquascaphe Bronze has a distinctive personality and a price tag that won’t sink your bank account.
With a well-represented collection of dive watches, chronographs and some very handsome classic models, including the sold-out 1940s-inspired dress watch MR01, Baltic has grown from micro-brand status to become a consolidated player. The Aquascaphe family of dive watches is divided into five sub-families – Classic, Dual-Crown, GMT, Titanium and the one which concerns us today, the Aquascaphe Bronze. Inspired by some of the most iconic dive watches of the 1950s – you can see traits taken from the Fifty Fathoms – the Aquascaphe Bronze evokes all things maritime with its bronze hull. Docking in alongside the existing bronze Aquascaphe models with blue and black dials, the latest model differs from the earlier editions with its sapphire crystal insert on the bezel and the delectable chocolate-coloured dial enhanced with a gradient effect.
The beauty of bronze is how it changes over time to develop a unique patina. The case, bezel and crown are made of a stable copper and aluminium alloy (CuA18). Compared to standard bronze (copper and tin), which tends to develop a green patina, the bronze alloy used for the watch will become less gold-coloured over time. Although considerably larger than vintage divers, the proportions of the brushed case are compact for today’s standards, with a 39mm diameter, a thickness of 13mm (11mm without the glass) and a lug-to-lug distance of 47mm. Protected by lateral crown guards, the large screw-down crown coupled with the screwed caseback ensures a 200m water-resistance. It’s worth pointing out that the lugs have drilled holes for easy strap changes. The caseback is engraved with a wavy pattern and a scuba diver.
Referencing the bezels of 1950s dive watches, the unidirectional 120-click bezel has a coin edge for better grip and now features a black scratchproof sapphire crystal insert with gilt markings to match the colour of the case material. Viewed in the dark, the inverted triangle, the eight dots and the Arabic numerals on the bezel are all treated with Super-LumiNova and emit a green glow. Compared to the other two models with bronze bezels, it’s surprising how the new sapphire crystal bezel inlay makes the watch look more compact and how well the glossy black sapphire combines with the bronze case and chocolate dial.
Like a ship’s porthole, the pronounced dome of the sapphire crystal over the dial produces fun distortions on its periphery. Designed to evoke the boxed acrylic crystals of the 1950s, the sensation is similar to looking at an object distorted by the phenomenon of refraction in water. The warm chocolate-coloured dial is a perfect match for the bronze case, and the gradient finish means that the centre of the dial is lighter and gradually gets darker as it reaches the minute track. The distinctive typeface selected for the Arabic numerals on the dial at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock underscore the vintage vibe and attest to the care taken in designing the dial.
Almost all the elements on the dial – from the inscriptions to the minutes track and from the hour and minute hands to the frame of the circular hour markers – are gilt-coloured. As a dive watch, luminosity is of the essence, and the hour dots, numerals, the hour, minute and lollipop seconds hands are all treated with beige Super-LumiNova that glows green in the dark. One thing that will undoubtedly receive unanimous praise that speaks Malec’s passion for vintage watches is the lack of a date window!
Baltic has no qualms about revealing the provenance of his movements and the Aquascaphe Bronze is powered by a reliable, inexpensive Japanese Miyota 9039 automatic. An alternative to the Swiss counterparts (ETA and Sellita), this movement beats at 4Hz, has 42h of power reserve and features a stop-seconds function. In yet another nod to iconic 1950s divers, the Aquascaphe Bronze is delivered with a black tropic-style strap and bronze pin buckle. And if this isn’t up your alley, all the brand’s straps are compatible with this watch and are easy to change.
Once again, Baltic has produced a winning model with a convincing vintage aura, a handsome design combining warm bronze with a black sapphire bezel and a rich brown gradient dial, a solid build, reliable mechanics and, wait for it, a very reasonable price tag. The Aquascaphe Bronze Brown is a member of the regular collection and retails for EUR 625 (excl. tax). If you order now, deliveries are expected in mid-September.
For more information and to place an order, please consult Baltic-watches.com.