Hands-on the Baltic Chronographe Bicompax 001
A mechanical chronograph at an affordable price (starting at 541 euros on the brand's website) is very enticing and tempting... We absolutely had to know what this watch actually looks. We therefore decided to test the Baltic Chronographe Bicompax 001 for 16 days.
Baltic was born in 2017, from the desire of its founder Etienne Malec to create a vintage-inspired watch, using the codes of the 40s watches (the size of the case: 38mm, the clean dial, the curved glass in acrylic and the mechanical movement). After a Kickstarter campaign, the brand which name was inspired by the beauty of the Baltic Sea launched the Bicompax chronograph (among others, since it also launched the Automatic HMS 001).
Aesthetically speaking, the Bicompax chronograph is designed to be minimalist: a purified dial displaying a minimum quantity of information (a small seconds at 9 o'clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock and discrete hour markers) and a leather strap with stop seams that enhance the vintage look of the watch (and which, by the way, are most attractive to neophytes).
Technically, the watch is equipped with a Seagull ST1901 Chinese movement (a column-wheel movement manufactured on the Swiss-based Venus 175 caliber) which was used to equip Chinese army watches. The power reserve is 45 hours (on sheet paper, but according to our test it's close to 38 hours, maybe this particular model needs a maintenance).
For the chronograph function, we tested it with the movement winding up to lock and with only half of the power reserve. Make sure that the movement is evenly wound, otherwise your timekeeping will be distorted.
For reference, the equivalent Seagull 1963 model can be found on the web between 200 and 300 euros, the finishing of the movement being much less finished.
What Etienne Malec deserves to be credited for is his desire for transparency, a very contemporary approach that is highly appreciated by amateurs. Everything is clear: The movement is Chinese (and has proved its value) and the assembly is done in France near Besançon. When will it all be fully French?
In conclusion, the Baltic Bicompax chronograph is a beautiful timepiece that is pleasant to wear. We appreciate the attention to details: the box in cork in which the watch sits, the size of the watch, the work done on the case (the polishing, the circular brushing and the linear surface brushing), the crown engraved with a B, the stop seams of the leather strap, the well finished movement, the sobriety of the dial and the guillochage of the small seconds and the 30-minute counter. However, you must be careful with the acrylic glass if you did not want to avoid scratches and think about the power reserve if you want to use the chronograph function. So if you are looking for a vintage Chrono of charm, at an affordable price, it is a great alternative.