Baltic MR01 Review: A Fantastic Homage To Dress Watches Of Yesteryear
— Updated on 12 December 2023

Baltic MR01 Review: A Fantastic Homage To Dress Watches Of Yesteryear

— Updated on 12 December 2023
James Want
WORDS BY
James Want

So you’ve got $1000 to spend on a watch. There’s one critical choice you need to make – mainstay or micro brand. Build quality, reliability and pedigree are just a handful of reasons to invest in an established brand but often these come at the price of authenticity, design, and romance. While brands like Seiko and Tissot deliver astounding bang for buck with watches like the Seiko 5 Diver or PRX, they simply can’t match the passion of the indie brands (which also compete aggressively on price).

Over the past decade, many have tried to disrupt the industry but only a handful stand out from the pack. French outfit Baltic is one of those brands, and while their Aquascape put them on the map, it was the MR01 that whipped all the enthusiasts into a frenzy. I managed to get one on the wrist so thought I’d share some thoughts in my own Baltic MR01 review.

Excellent

88/100

SCORE

PROS

  • Classic styling and size
  • Great looking movement
  • Can be dressed up or down
  • Affordable

CONS

  • 36mm is not for everyone
  • Often out of stock
  • Dial may appear crowded to some
baltic-watches.com

Table of Contents

Design – 22/25

Originally launched in 2021, the MR01 (Micro-Rotor) dress watch was offered in three colourways, silver, blue, and salmon. The vintage-inspired dress watch – almost a homage to numerous models we know and love – with elegant Breguet numerals, remained true to its predecessors, arriving in a 36mm steel case, and perhaps surprisingly, sold out almost immediately (don’t worry, read on).

Surprising due to the world’s unrelenting interest in 40mm plus sports watches on steel bracelets, but it shouldn’t have shocked anyone given the design and price. 

Baltic responded to enthusiasts’ desires with a watch that ticked an extraordinary amount of boxes. Traditionally sized, micro-rotor movement, no date, small seconds, Calatrava inspired, stamped grain dial, applied Breguet numerals, railroad chapter ring, polished and brushed case, and sapphire case back, all in a €545 dress watch.

I’m sorry but what’s not to love? I’ve been wearing the Salmon dial version for a few months and thought I’d publish some thoughts prior to Baltic re-opening their pre-orders this Thursday 13th October.

Wrist Factor – 21/25

From a design perspective, if you hadn’t already surmised, the Baltic MR01 is a tour de force. Discretion, elegance, intrigue, and attention to detail, it is a pleasure to wear in the 36mm case. I daily a 40mm case and not for one moment have I considered the MR01 too small.

At 9.9mm thick it’s not ultra-slim and the width of the bezel makes the watch appear larger than it is, while the size and detail of the Breguet numerals – and the fact that they are applied – means they really pop off the dial, thus legibility is better than you’d expect.

Interestingly, it is a watch you can enjoy both formally and casually, at home under a tailored shirt cuff but almost more so with a Polo shirt and jeans. Dressing it down almost redirects the attention to the watch itself (which it deserves) and reinvigorates my enthusiasm for dress watches.

It’s not a watch for those who want to get noticed but I can assure you when it does, it is met with incredible admiration, especially when flipped over.

Watchmaking – 22/25

Those familiar with haute horology will know the micro-rotor is associated with some of the finest names in the game like Patek Philippe, Laurent Ferrier & Chopard so, naturally, it’s exciting to see one at such an accessible price. The movement in question is the automatic, Hangzhou ELA05MN with 42 hour power reserve, frequency of 28,800 bph and an off-centre small seconds.

While the Baltic iteration doesn’t defer too far from the off-the-shelf movement, there have been some thoughtful lashings of blue, as well as a branded rotor to complement the red rubies and Côtes de Genève style finishing. At this price, it’s a commendable and beautiful addition and suggests Baltic is a brand that cares immensely not just about the cover but what’s on the inside.

Completing the package is a handsome leather strap with quick-release spring bars, secured to curved lugs that sit 20mm apart – a balanced width that sustains the MR01’s elegance but keeps it from appearing dainty on the wrist. A matte-brushed, Baltic embossed, tang buckle is the final piece of the puzzle.

Verdict and Value – 23/25

Qualms? Well, there aren’t many. I was impressed with the Baltic MR01 from the moment I opened the cork box. I will say that the crown can be hard to grip and wind due to its size, and upon a more detailed inspection there is some debris inside the movement but that is to be expected during assembly at this price point. Personally, I would have preferred to see a creamier white dial option than silver, it’s by far the weakest choice of the three colourways.

This is a watch that all mechanical watch lovers will enjoy and a timeless addition to any collection – one that punches well above its weight. It’s not a piece you’ll reach for every day but when you do, you’ll be enamoured of its subtle but undeniable presence, and wearability.

The Baltic MR01 is available to pre-order, once again, on Thursday, October 13th at 4 pm Paris time (Friday the 14th at 1 am AEST) for €545 (~$843). If you’re keen to get your hands on one I highly recommend staying up!

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