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The Historic Rise of Baltic Watches

Baltic Watches Fathers Collection Book

There are some serious watchmakers out there with archives to match, marques whose heritage stretches back across the centuries with hefty tomes of haute horology devoted to their various anniversaries. And then there’s Baltic, which have only been going for six years. And yet, in that short amount of time, the Besançon-based brand have achieved more than names many times their age. The question is, how have they achieved this historic rise?

The history of Baltic Watches officially starts in 2016, although their roots go further back to 2005. This is when founder Etienne Malec discovered his father’s watch collection and like many a microbrand owner was inspired. Evidently however, he didn’t rush into picking a name, designing a watch and getting out there. He bided his time and after more than a decade mulling the project over, finally took the plunge in 2017, which is when most of us came across Baltic.

Baltic Watches HMS001

Baltic HMS001

This was the point in time when Kickstarter was everywhere. Sure, it’s still providing a platform to a good number of fledgling brands these days, but back then there was a new one every week or so; every few days in busy periods. It was exhausting. And I’m not about to say that Baltic was the ray of light that cut through the Kickstarter miasma, but they did have a lot going for them. For one, their billing as simply ‘vintage inspired watches’ was a nice distance away from the all-too-common homages we were consistently inundated with. They were handsome designs too, true to their roots in an old, near-forgotten collection of vintage timepieces.

Evidently, we weren’t the only ones with whom the idea resonated, as they raised over €500,000 from over 1,000 backers. That’s a success story if ever there was one, and the resulting watches, the time-only HMS 001 and the Bicompax 001, lived up to their handsome potential. And honestly, they could have left it there and called it a day, a very, very successful day. But a year later, the Aquascaphe was born.

Baltic Aquascaphe

Baltic Aquascaphe

In 2023, vintage-style divers, based off famous references from the 1950s and early ‘60s, are everywhere. It’s not just the smaller guys either but even the big brands raiding their archives for anything that hits that sweet spot of vintage appeal and tool watch practicality. Baltic nailed it in 2018. Since it was first launched, the Aquascaphe has been Baltic’s best-selling piece. In essence, it was the piece that turned the microbrand into a serious contender on the watchmaking world stage. This was hammered home in 2021.

If you’ve not come across Only Watch before, you’re in for an experience. A charity auction that invites the participation of around 50 brands, each watch that goes up for sale is a one-of-one, a unique piece made specifically for the auction. And they get some serious unique pieces – Patek Philippe serious, along with Tudor, Richard Mille and a shifting case of famous dials. And in November 2021, Baltic joined them.

Baltic Only Watch Auction
Baltic Only Watch Auction

Baltic x One Watch 2021 Edition

The result was a stunning doctor’s watch, using a renovated Venus 150 movement from the 1940s. It was absolutely gorgeous and smashed its CHF 18,000 upper estimate, achieving a final price of CHF 50,000. That’s a serious flex for both brand and buyer.

In 2021 and 2022, Baltic continued apace. They released their superb MR01 micro-rotor, a handsome tri-compax chronograph and collaborations with Perpetuel, A Collected Man, Peter Auto, Revolution, and all the good and great of the watch world (bar us, of course, but we’ll see if we can’t change that…). They filled out their catalogue and just kept going.

Baltic MR01
Baltic Watches

Baltic MR01 / Baltic Watch Roll

To cap it all, at the beginning of this year Baltic Watches opened a showroom in London, not just a notoriously expensive place to have a store, but one of the greatest watch collecting hubs in the world. Baltic’s history may have started in 2016 but it was in 2019 that Baltic arrived for everyone in the watch world and in 2021 they arrived on the grand stage with the big players. Now, they’ve physically arrived here in London and, if you’ve had your blinkers on and not come across them yet, now you don’t need to look at Instagram shots or read reviews, you can head to 52-53 Margaret Street and try them out for yourself.

More details at Baltic.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.