It wasn’t that long ago that Baltic, a boutique watch brand established in France and created by Etienne Malec, launched its first collection. Since 2017 and the inaugural Kickstarter campaign, the brand has grown quite a bit (to say the least) and now offers a solid collection of vintage-inspired watches. But the watches that started it all were about good looks, simple yet robust movements, an appealing 1940s inspiration and a very fair price. It’s now back in its third iteration, with the new Baltic HMS 003 & Bicompax 003, more refined, upgraded inside and smaller outside.
The first important thing to know is that this new 003 Collection doesn’t replace the existing 002 models, but it comes alongside them. Both watches will cohabitate, and for a good reason; not only the dials are slightly different, but the case dimensions of the HMS 003 & Bicompax 003 has been revised. While the 001 and 002 models were already nicely sized at 38mm, the new watches that have been launched by Baltic are now getting in line with the highly successful Calatrava-style MR01, with a case that measures 36.5mm in diameter. Still using the codes of the past, mostly 1940s watches, the monobloc case (made from a single piece of metal) retains its cool step profile with a flat, raised bezel and a combination of different surfaces; horizontal brushing along the case middle, circular brushing on the lugs and a polished bezel.
Whatever the version you’ll choose, time-only HMS or chronograph Bicompax, the proportions are identical, with a height of 13mm including the high-domed hesalite glass, or 10mm without it – these are not the thinnest watches around, but the charm of this hesalite glass is undeniable and, without it, the cases are relatively thin. The lug-to-lug measurement is also fairly restrained, without being too small, at 46mm. The lug width remains 20mm, making it easy to opt for an outsourced strap.
The dials of the new Baltic HMS 003 & Bicompax 003 also evolve. Since the first generation of this collection, there’s undoubtedly been a growing attention to detail, with dials more and more refined. Following the footsteps of its predecessors, the new Baltic 003 collection retains a classic sector style, with several finishes. A brushed railway surrounds a brushed sector on which polished appliques are positioned (contrary to the Arabic numerals of the 002). The rest of the dial has a matt sandblasted finish, with two azure counters for the Bicompax or a crosshair for the HMS. The leaf-shaped hour and minute hands are slightly larger than those of previous versions, giving the watch a more pronounced character.
Whether you’ll opt for the HMS 003 or the Bicompax 003, you’ll have the choice between three colourways; silver with blue appliques, numerals and hands, salmon with silver-toned appliques, numerals and hands or dark blue with gilt appliques, numerals and hands. Each has its own charm, with the silver model exuding the most modern vibe.
Inside the case of the HMS 003 is an automatic movement sourced from Japanese manufacturer Miyota. This calibre 8315, robust and reliable, beats at a 3Hz frequency and now stores a more comfortable power reserve of 60 hours. A stop-second device completes the package. The Bicompax 003 retains the same movement as all previous versions of this watch, understand a hand-wound column-wheel chronograph with a horizontal clutch, the Seagull ST1901. And if its design feels familiar, it is because it’s been modelled after the Venus 175 movement. Both the HMS and Bicompax models can be equipped either with a closed or an open back, the latter revealing the movements.
Offered with a large choice of straps and bracelets (calf leather in 4 colours, steel beads of rice, steel flat link or steel beads of rice straight ends bracelets), the new Baltic HMS 003 & Baltic Bicompax 003 watches are now available from the brand’s website. Prices start at EUR 360 (excl. taxes) for HMS and EUR 540 (excl. taxes) for Bicompax. The open back is a EUR 30 option. For more details, please visit baltic-watches.com.