Ever heard of the sophomore slump? As in, when someone’s second effort doesn’t live up to their debut? Commercially, Weezer’s second album Pinkerton didn’t hold a candle to the Blue Album, even though fans now consider it a classic. But it couldn’t get arrested at the time. The slump is real, in many endeavours.
French watch microbrand Baltic seemingly never got that memo. They’ve been churning out hit after hit since their initial release, the note-perfect Aquascaphe (from €550), a 39mm stainless-cased jewel of a vintage-inspired diver if ever there was one. And Baltic has kept the hit machine cranking, with some delightful variations on that original theme, including a bronze version, and a Swiss-movement GMT. And they look to continue that streak with the new Aquascaphe Dual-Crown, now available to preorder.
It would seem they’ve cracked the code as far as reading the minds of the watch-buying public: vintage-sized cases, classic colourways, subtle design cues, and battle-tested standard movements that won’t break the bank. Unlike some of their microbrand competition, Baltic’s QC is locked down tighter than a submarine’s hatch door.
Along with most watches in this space, the majority of their component parts are imported, and Baltic is upfront about that. What sets them apart from most others is that they assemble the watches at their own workshop in France, while adjusting those factory movements to tighter tolerances for more accurate performance. And the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Baltic models seem to perpetually sell out upon release.
The new Dual-Crown keeps the classic size and proportions of its predecessors, with a few new twists. The hacking, no-date Miyota 9039 movement and retro-inspired domed sapphire crystal are holdovers from the original model, as are the drilled lugs and tropic rubber strap (or stainless ‘beads of rice’ bracelet). However, the D-C has a bolder, more highly visible dial layout, recalling the iconic Seiko SKX with its capsule-shaped markers at 3, 6, and 9 (with matching seconds hand tip). The hands are broader than the standard Aquascaphe, too, and everything glows a bright blue, with BGW9 lume generously applied.
Adventure-Ready, Affordable Diver
But the namesake characteristic of the watch, ahem, ‘stems’ from its second crown, which rotates the internal dive timing bezel, then locks it in place. In this way, the Dual-Crown resembles the vintage supercompressor designs from the early days of undersea exploration. It’s a classic, yet highly functional feature that cements the ‘just-rightness’ of the entire package.
The Aquascaphe Dual-Crown is available with a black dial, a blue dial, and now in a black dial with a PVD-coated all-black case, a stealthy first for the brand. There’s nothing that shouts about any of these choices, but when the watch does so many design things so well, there’s no need to raise your voice. We think Baltic has another hit on its hands. And by the look of things, they show no signs of slumping anytime soon.