Aevig Balaur Review

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Earlier this summer, we announced the pre-order and upcoming release of the Balaur–an EPSA-styled, dual crown diver with an internal rotating bezel from Netherlands-based brand, Aevig. Unsurprisingly, the watch garnered some major interest from our audience, and as we noted in that initial write up, the Balaur has been a long time coming.

The Balaur project began as a Watchuseek forum watch way back in 2012, a full year before Aevig was officially formed. After some unsuccessful early prototypes, Aevig founder Chip Yuen put the project aside to instead focus his energies on his newly founded brand.

Aevig_Balaur-1Four years later, Aevig is finally coming out with the Balaur, slated for release this December. It boasts a slight redesign from the original concept and has the benefit of being the fourth watch from Aevig (read our thoughts on the Corvid, Huldra, and Valkyr). Our initial look at the Balaur was based on press release images and a brief conversation with Mr. Yuen, but we knew that this was one that we had to revisit in the metal. Lucky for us, Mr. Yuen sent over two prototypes—one of each color. Did they live up to our expectations of the watch and what we have come to know of the brand? Let’s take a closer look.

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$506

Aevig Balaur Review

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
ETA 2824
Dial
Matte blue; matte black
Lume
BGW9 (blue dial); C3 (black dial)
Lens
Domed sapphire
Strap
Custom metal bracelet
Water Resistance
300 meters
Dimensions
42mm x 48.5mm
Thickness
14mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
6mm x 4.5mm
Warranty
Yes
Price
$506

Case

The Balaur case measures 42mm wide and 14mm thick. Make no mistake, it’s a hefty watch, but one that doesn’t feel overly large on the wrist given all the breaks along the face and case profile. Plus, the tempered lug-to-lug measurement—which is equally as important in determining the fit of a watch as is the diameter—is actually quite reasonable at 48.5mm. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing an Omega Speedmaster, I’d say that the two are largely comparable on the wrist.

Aevig_Balaur-3From the top-down, the lugs appear long, but they’re tempered by a rather generous curve, so much so that the lugs actually support the head when the watch is placed face-up on a flat surface. This ensures the watch wears snug against the wrist.

The profile is where the design really gets interesting. In terms of the overall geometry, the whole thing looks futuristic and sporty. The sharp, flowing lines guide the eyes along the length of the case, calling to mind what one might see on an aerodynamic concept car. The case is mostly brushed, but there is a dramatic, high polished bevel that runs along the length of the lugs and through the top of the mid case. The delineation here is precise, and exemplary of the impressive manufacturing tolerances we’ve come to expect from the Aevig. Overall, the look is quite stunning, and the fit and finish of the case far outweigh the price.

The two prominent crowns along the right side of the case measure 6 x 4.5mm. The crown positioned by two o’clock controls the bi-directional internal bezel, and three internal O-rings maintain the 300-meter water resistance of the case. The screw-down crown at four o’clock controls the time function, and it’s signed.

I should note that the action of the crown at two was much better on the blue-dialed version than it was on the black dialed one, but I was reassured by Mr. Yuen that was only the result of the latter being a rushed sample. The final production run will feature even smoother action with enough resistance to ensure that there is no accidental movement. Furthermore, the production crown at two will feature an engraved triangle to indicate that it controls the bezel, and the crown at four will have a raised logo. Both crowns will also sit more flush to the case.

Aevig_Balaur-27Turning our attention to the other side, the case back features a stamped emblem featuring two intertwined dragons, a nod to the model name (“Balaur” is a dragon in Eastern European folklore). It’s a complicated design of entangled, polished curves contrasted against a matte background for greater effect. The execution on the production run will be more precise with greater separation between the different segments of the emblem for a crisper look.

Powering the Balaur is an ETA 2824-2, a proven workhorse that needs no introduction. In recent years, the 2824 has been somewhat scarce in the world of micro-brews, so its appearance here is a welcome touch.

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Dial, Bezel and Hands

The dial of the Balaur boasts a design that’s a contemporary evolution of the initial vintage-inspired Balaur concept developed years ago. Applied rectangular markers stand in for the hours and simple white lines represent the remaining minutes. There’s no date window here to impact the symmetry (though one could have been placed at six without disrupting the overall design). Right below 12 is the Aevig logo, and above six is “balaur” and “AUTOMATIC,” the latter in red.

Aevig_Balaur-1Moving further out, there’s the internal bezel. This is probably my favorite detail on the watch. If you look closely, you’ll note that the bezel features two separate scales. This is a clever bit of utilitarian design that serves two purposes: the first is that the bezel can be used like a 60-minute countdown timer via the index along the slope, and the second is that it can track a second time zone via the primary 12-hour scale. Personally, I consider having the option of tracking a second time zone to be far more useful, so the integration of this function is a huge plus.

Aevig_Balaur-17The hour and minute hands are semi-skeletonized and faceted, with a ladder-like design that separates the hollow base from the lume-filled upper portion. I like the rather unorthodox handset. It works well with the dial design, and it isn’t overly aggressive as tends to be the case on most modern divers. The second hand is a simple needle with a small lumed portion one-third of the way down.

The Balaur will be offered in two versions: a blue dial against a black bezel and a black dial with a matching bezel. The blue, depending on the light, can vary in vibrancy, but overall it’s a nice, subdued hue. The black dial will glow green with C3 Super-LumiNova, and the blue dial features BG-W9. The second hand on both versions features orange lume.

Aevig_Balaur-22

Sitting atop the dial is a double domed sapphire crystal, which means that both sides of the crystal are convex. It’s a costlier component to manufacture, but it also means that the dial will be clearer even when viewed at extreme angles. Further aiding that clarity is an internal anti-reflective coating.

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Straps and Wearability

The Balaur comes paired with a 22mm tapering bracelet. Like the rest of the watch, the bracelet is a totally custom design. The center link is raised above the outer links and features polished beveled edges meant to mimic the ridged back of a dragon, another nod to the model name. The final production bracelet will be significantly nicer than the one shown here. The center link will be raised to 5mm and will feature crisper, polished chamfers that better emphasize the design. It will also have separate links, unlike the stamped faux links you see here. The clasp will also get an upgrade, and it will be of the ratcheting and expanding sort.

Aevig_Balaur-12As mentioned, the watch is a pleasure on the wrist. The ergonomic case design and positioning of the two crowns ensures a sure, comfortable fit. Furthermore, the restrained lug-to-lug height means that the watch can be worn on a range of wrist sizes (shown here on a 7.5-inch wrist). That isn’t to say the watch is without presence. On the contrary, the watch definitely pops, especially the blue-dialed version. But if I had to classify it, it’s definitely an elegant presence, and the watch can be easily paired with a wide range of outfits.

Conclusion

The Balaur is exemplary of what Aevig and founder Chip Yuen do best, and that is taking an interesting concept—one often based on vintage watches—and executing it through a contemporary lens to a high level of finish. It sounds simple enough, and yet so few brands that attempt something similar can claim the same level of success. There’s no doubt that the excellent execution has been informed by four years of experience in making watches, and the end product is all the more better for it–the Balaur is Aevig’s best, hands down.

Aevig_Balaur-21The Balaur can be pre-ordered through Aevig’s shop for €550 (which includes VAT for EU customers), or roughly $506 for American buyers. This will be the price until the expected delivery/release date in December. Upon release, the Balaur will jump up to the full retail price of €695, or $640 without VAT. Even with the price bump, the Aevig remains an absolute steal.

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Ilya is worn&wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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  • error406

    I’ve put my money where my mouth is and ordered one (at the even lower early pre-order price). Slightly worried about the center link turning out a bit gimmicky, but this watch should also look great on a wide variety of straps. Can’t wait for x-mas!

  • Matt Rowe

    I preordered mine in late July, and reading this review made me more excited for it to show up. Merry Christmas to me!

  • Evan

    And how is 550 Euro $506 USD? Ever.

    • Rob Lew

      550 Euro includes the 21% VAT. Writers are assuming that if you’re paying in dollars, you aren’t in the EU and subject to that tax. Taking out the tax, you are paying ~450ish Euros which gets you close to $506 when you do the conversion.

      • Evan

        Okay, makes sense. Thanks. (We’ll see at checkout, I suppose).

        Well done, Rob. The price did, in fact, come down at checkout. Smart feller!

  • Kristof Dauw

    I do hope that the alignment of the rotating bezel and the indices will match up better in the finalised product than how they do in the images. Perhaps it budged from operating the crown at 2 o’clock? Misaligned bezels are something that drive many people crazy.

    • Kevin Lam

      I believe these types of rotating bezels continuously rotate, so you just have to align it yourself.

  • Jeffwb65

    Problem. The case back states 300 meters/660 feet. Which is correct?

    • Kevin Lam

      Good catch!

    • One of the things I discussed with the manufacturer. Initially the Balaur would be 200m/660ft WR after some engeneering, the WR could be raised to 300 without much alteration to the design. The text only got updated half, though. Production models will state 300 meters / 990 feet

  • Kevin Lam

    I have to say this is one of the most balanced, maturely designed microbrand pieces I’ve seen.

  • Torn over this or the upcoming Halios. I’m averse to preorders but Aevig are one microbrand that know what they’re doing.

  • Michael Stach

    Can you switch a watch like this to a leather strap with spring bars attaching it?

  • Westwest

    damn nice watch! Mr. Yuen, congratulations on another fantastic time piece! Unfortunately, i’m going to skip the pro-order price due to obligations my funds have to go to like bills,bills,bills. Life, right? Again, congrats to the launch and congrats to everyone who pre-order balaur.