This morning saw the always anticipated announcement of a new slate of watches to be sold at the biennial Only Watch auction, and as you’d expect, the watch community has spent much of the day refreshing websites and stalking Instagram as images of these hyper rare watches begin to surface and circulate. For anyone who isn’t aware, Only Watch is an auction that occurs every two years consisting only of unique pieces. Some of the most high profile brands in the world (Audermars Piguet, MB&F, and Patek Philippe among them) create truly special one off pieces for the auction. The prices realized by the end of a bidding war are dizzying, but with funds largely going to charitable causes, it’s the rare display of wealth that we can actually feel good about. We’ll have more on some of our favorite lots from this new crop of Only Watches in a future post, but today we wanted to highlight one watch that really stands out to us, made by a brand many readers are likely to be familiar with: Baltic.
Seeing Baltic among the brands participating in Only Watch this year was, frankly, quite surprising, but also gratifying and genuinely exciting. Tudor has been a participant in past auctions, but this is a sale dominated by brands that are in the high luxury space. We certainly don’t need confirmation of the high quality and great design of Baltic’s watches (we’re on record as being unapologetic fans of the brand and have covered them closely for years, and collaborated with them on a limited edition), but this will no doubt put the brand in front of many who hadn’t considered them before, and that’s something to be happy about.
The watch itself is very much in the spirit of past Baltic releases, but with a number of twists that make it appropriately special for an occasion like Only Watch. Remember, they’re only making one of these, so pulling out all the stops is encouraged and necessary. Dubbed the Pulsometer Chronograph Monopusher, the key elements are in the name of the watch, but the details are really where it’s at. The case is a new 36mm design that Baltic is calling a prototype, and the dial features applied Breguet numerals, which is a classic vintage inspired touch that feels spot on for the brand, but is also new territory. The dial is black, with a gloss finish on the pulsometer scale, and gilt accents elsewhere. The brand’s wordmark appears at 12:00, and the only other text you’ll find on the dial that isn’t associated with the chrono scale is a “1/1” signature near 6:00.
The movement is a vintage Venus 150 chronograph movement with a column wheel and monopusher functionality. The caliber dates to the 1940s and makes sense in this particular watch for a number of reasons, and indeed creates a sort of symmetry for Baltic’s story up to now. Of course, the watch itself is highly reminiscent of chronographs from the 40s, so it makes a certain amount of logical sense to use a vintage movement. For Baltic, we imagine the use of the Venus 150 has special significance as the movement that’s powered their chronographs to this point, the Seagull ST1901, is based on an old Venus caliber (Seagull actually bought much of Venus’s movement supply, tooling, and machinery, so the new movements are very similar to the old in operation and feel). To use an original Venus movement feels very authentic for Baltic.
Baltic made the choice to give this watch a pulsometer scale because of the cause that Only Watch supports. Proceeds from the auction contribute to the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, so the use of a scale so closely associated with the practice of medicine makes a lot of sense here. A pulsometer is also a less common scale on modern chronographs, and like every other detail of this watch it helps to place it in a very specific era, which is something Baltic really excels at in their design work.