MICRO MONDAYS: Was the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT the freshest microbrand travel watch of 2020?Thor Svaboe
No, not another GMT?! Well, what if we tell you that this is a 39mm piece of vintage-inspired perfection with a goldilocks-sized 38mm case and a slightly wider bezel. And that its colours are as F.R.E.S.H as only the French can make them. If you know Baltic already, you might say that this is a natural move. But Etienne Malec and his design team have still managed to surprise us with the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT. Here we have no less than three sapphire-bezelled pops of zesty wrist goodness that trigger a mix of exaltation and deep sadness in equal measure.
Why sadness? Well, a GMT is all about travelling, so at first glance the combination of French flair and a colourful 50s style GMT brought me close to tears for not being able to go to the South of France last year with my family. This watch, in short, is all about going places in style. Luckily, its pitch-perfect time-traveller vibe helped to cheer me up after a few seconds. Because we will travel in 2021 and just imagine dangling your feet off a pier, the water lapping your toes and one of these vintage-infused Aquascaphes on your sun-kissed wrist.
Enough philosophy, I know Baltic well and admire their design plan of using one main case body as the frame around which to build their microbrand portfolio. That means that my own first-generation Bicompax has the same 38mm case body as this new GMT, albeit one that’s slightly slimmer.
And that is purely a good thing, making the Aquascaphe a balanced, well-proportioned tool of brushed steel. The slender rounded lugs are perfectly matched here by the Aquascaphe bezel while the sapphire gives you the right vintage vibe, while protecting the 24-hour scale.
This is a proper GMT with a separately adjustable hand with that classic big arrow. This moves at half rate to the main hands and shows you your home time while you’re sipping a Negroni by some far-flung beach. It will happen my friend.
It comes on a choice of Baltic’s comfortable soft tropic rubber strap, or what is one of the best beads-of-rice microbrand bracelets around. But I’d buy them both as this watch also comes with the practicality of a quick-change system for that beach or bar look. The black dials have super-crisp white lume print, but what sold me on the first shot is the colour choice. Thankfully Baltic strayed from the usual Pepsi trap, and instead have a delicate navy for the top half (night) of the bezel, while opting for apple green, zingy orange or a formal grey for the bottom half daytime indication. The GMT hands are – like the Aquascaphe logo – delightfully matched to the GMT pointer, except for the grey version having the pop of turquoise off-setting the grey.
A date at 6 o’clock with just the right height is unobtrusive, and I’d happily claim these to be the freshest GMT trio of 2020 with a slender but tough presence on the wrist. The Aquascaphe GMT has a 24-click bezel, that perfect 12mm thickness, and the charm of a double domed sapphire crystal with a swim-ready 100m water resistance. The movement meanwhile is the offbeat choice of a Soprod automatic with a 42-hour power reserve, which is Swiss and solid as a rock. My advice: snap one up and start planning that next holiday now.
Price €920,80, € 1,000 on BOR, directly from Baltic Watches