The Baltic MR01 Micro-Rotor was released a year ago. Last November, the young French brand that seems to have everything going for it unveiled a series of three watches featuring a micro-rotor automatic movement: the MR01. Limited to just 200 pieces each, these timepieces have unsurprisingly been snapped up at breakneck speed. To our delight, Baltic opened pre-orders for these same models until the end of the weekend. The window was very short, but we managed to get our hands on one of these little nuggets.
MR01: micro-rotor finesse
Baltic keeps making the right choicesboth strategically and aesthetically. In just a few years, the brand founded by Etienne Malec has established an international reputation. Even Jean-Claude Biver wears one, which says a lot. The micro-rotor movements are rarebecause they are expensive… at least for the Swiss. On the other hand, our friends in the Middle Kingdom have a solution, not from Seagull as can be found on the brand’s “Bicompax” chronographs, but from Hangzhou Watch Companythe other major Chinese manufacturer of mechanical movements. This small technical specificity, which is not a complication, makes it possible to slim down a movement by inlaying the oscillating weight within a bridge, and thus to reduce the thickness of the watch. The Holy Grail for a city watch. And rather than simply using an existing base, the French brand has opted for a new model. As soon as we opened the box, we were surprised beyond our expectations. Our first words are: “My God, it’s beautiful”. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s review it to see if it’s as good as it is beautiful.
Placed on the wrist, it immediately seems to find its natural place. Its diameter is very limited, but suits our slim 17.5cm circumference wrist. We hadn’t paid much attention to its size during our discussions with the brand’s teams, and it’s a good thing we did. 36mm is so logical. It’s the right choice, and yet it’s not a size we have in our collection, as we’re more adept at 39-41mm. Its wide, flat bezel gives it presence and is enough to fill the space, not to mention the perpetual play of light that is created all the way to the tip of its lugs. On paper, it’s 9.9mm thin, but that includes the curved Hésalite glass which gives it a warm, vintage feel. In fact, the case is barely 8mm high, and that makes all the difference! In terms of finish, the case middle is linearly brushed on the side and underside, while the rest is polished. This alternation gives it character. Knowing that Baltic plays on every detail, we realize that the unmarked crown is not oblivion but an ode to the past. We also appreciate the fact that the horns are piercedeven if the presence of flash pumps on the leather straps removes their purpose – collectors will appreciate this. Turning the watch over, you’ll find the transparent caseback secured by 6 screws, only on the top and bottom, not on the sides. On the other hand, this forces the watch 3 ATM water-resistancewhich may be limiting, but is sufficient for office use or special occasions.
This Salmon dial was an obvious choice. A color for the times which could – why not – dethrone the green trend in the near future. This is where the French brand demonstrates its talent for detail. Firstly, with the grained texture of the background, giving it a matte finish on which the Breguet figures are raised, in appliques, to denote their reflections in accordance with the faceted leaf needles. The timer scale, on the other hand, is printed on a circular brushingwhile the second, originally located at 7-8 o’clock, plays on a vinyl background. Other elements are conspicuous by their absence: the wording. Only the logo appears at noon, the rest engraved on the case middle, between the upper lugs, and partially hidden by the bracelet. It’s all so subtle, so well thought-out, that it’s disconcerting.
The strength and weakness of this watch is its Chinese movement. This calibre 5000A – also known as ELA05MN – was developed by the Hangzhou Watch CompanySeagull’s rival. It doesn’t boast finishes worthy of a Swiss movement, that’s for sure, but this automatic movement has the merit of trying: circular-grained plate, colonial bridges, blued screws, not to mention the gilded weight. With an operating frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, a 42-hour power reserve and a daily deviation of +20/-20 secondsit ticks all the right boxes. If you look at the price of the watch, it’s still highly reasonable. After all, it was a gamble, so it’s easy to see why Baltic took a cautious approach to the first production run. If you give yourself a full year to analyze the after-sales service, you’ll realize that the test was conclusive, and that’s reassuring.
Baltic offers 4 strap options, whatever MR01 you choose: navy blue, lion brown and green leather, or even a rice grain” steel as for the other collections. We couldn’t find anything other than the blue leather, which testifies to the quality of the materials chosen. This is a Italian calf leather measuring 20mm at the lugs and tapering to 16mm at the buckle. It features tone-on-tone topstitching followed by a black cuff embossed with the brand name, as well as black-tinted sides. Its finish is slightly agedThis creates a superb coherence with the style of the case and dial. The buckle is simple, quite small for the occasion and finished with a linear brushing. Some would like it polished, more logical for a city watch, but that would subject it too much to micro-scratches. Why not, it’s a choice.
With its cork finishThe case of this Baltic MR01 has the unmistakable look of a Patek Philippe box. Delivered in a matte black cardboard outer box, the case opens to reveal a beige suedettea tone rarely used, but warm and elegant. The watch is simply positioned in soldier mode, and comes with a user guide in French/English, as well as a beautiful metal warranty card featuring underwater map motifs, and a unique number giving you access to its digital version via a QR code. A welcome change from the traditional laminated card with handwritten fields on a white background, we love this little detail.
Our opinion on this Baltic watch
It’s hard not to feel our enthusiasm for this watch this watch has touched our hearts. With its Breguet or Calatrava look, the MR01 has an undeniable charm. Small, slender, light and unisex, it’s a city watch that fully deserves its place in a permanent collection. The finishing of its dial eclipses that of its movement, which remains cool thanks to the micro-rotor. And while the blue and silver versions would be more logical choices, this salmon dial stands out so much that it’s worthy of a special place in your collection. We love it. You’ve only got a few days left to make up your mind, because the orders close on October 23 !
Baltic MR01 Salmon Watch / Features
- Case : Stainless steel / Brushed & polished finish
- Width : 36mm
- Length : 44mm
- Thickness : 9.9mm
- Lug spacing : 20mm
- Photoluminescence : No
- Glass type : Curved Hesalite glass
- Case back : Transparent
- Movement: Automatic
- Caliber : Hangzhou Micro-Rotor 5000A
- Power reserve : 42 hours
- Bracelet(s) : Italian calf leather or “rice grain” steel
- Buckle : Ardillon on leather & deployant on steel
- Water resistance : 3 ATM / 30 meters
- Limited Edition: No
- Warranty : 2 years