The Baltic MR01 Makes a Compelling Case for the Return of the Dress Watch

·3-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.

At Esquire, we’ve been monitoring, for some time on our instruments, a subtle inflection in the general flow of new watch design. It suggests that things are getting dressy again. For most of the past decade and more, watches generally sold fastest if they had a whiff of vintage robustness about them and came with tales of adventure. Many went further with aged lume, deliberate patina. In line with more casual dress codes, swanky dress watches have seemed less on the money for many watch lovers. But this year for the first time in years, even the sportiest of watches are getting a bit of a makeover, and with more refinement (and even a little polish), looking fresh and new. Smaller sizes have been trending, too.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

At Paris based boutique watch brand Baltic, a hot new launch points strongly to this trend. The MR01 is a relatively diminutive size—just 36mm—compared to most modern watches. It is also slim, with a case height of under 10mm, which creates a noticeably different presence on the wrist. But it is in the details that this watch marks a real milestone for Baltic. The case is stepped and, like other Baltic watches, echoes watches of the 1940s and 50s. Inside, the mechanical movement, powered by a micro-rotor, is Chinese by Hangzou. Despite being tricky to make, micro-rotors allow an automatic watch movement to be slimmer as the rotor is sunk within the plane of the movement rather than sitting on top of it, which also means it doesn’t obscure the rest of the workings of the movement, which in this watch are fully visible through the MR01’s sapphire crystal case back.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Perhaps the most fascinating bit of this watch is the dial, starkly classic with applied Breguet numerals, the stylized Arabic numbers created by Abraham Louis Breguet in 1790. Yet the seconds sub-dial at the 7 o’clock position gives this watch a unique, off-kilter appeal. Three dial colors exist for the first iteration: midnight blue, silver, and our absolute favorite, salmon pink, in an edition of 200 pieces each. Each and every one is already sold out, alongside an even-more-limited box housing all three watches in an edition of 20. Watch this space for news of any impending restocks.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

While all Baltic’s watches to date have celebrated iconic tool watches, they have also had a certain refinement about them in the details, making them less clunky and more elegant. But the MR01 represents a new level of finishing for the brand. This is a posh watch at a very un- posh price that neatly nails the dressy new direction in watches. But don’t imagine you’re going to have to dig out that old suit and—heaven forfend—a tie to wear with this watch. There is no greater style statement than pairing an elegant slim dress watch with stonewashed jeans, a sweatshirt, and a pair of Converse.

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