The Baltic Bicompax Pulso for Revolution & The Rake

The Bicompax Pulso timepiece is already sold out and we would like to thank all of your support. Although it was our first collaboration, we’re not surprised that the watch masterminded by the brilliant and affable young French watchmaker that is Etienne Malec proved so popular.

 

Baltic is the story of a watch brand. But it’s more than that. It’s about a father and a son who, in some ways, never knew each other. Etienne Malec, the founder of Baltic — the watch world’s hottest micro-brand — is to me one of horology’s most brilliant designers and future stars. He is also remarkable in that he is not motivated by money. Otherwise, he could have done thousands of collaborations or simply launched innumerable configurations of his salmon dial HMS and Bicompax created together with Worn & Wound. Instead, he’s kept his focus relentlessly on the watches themselves. And when it comes to watches, he scrutinizes every detail.

The process of my collaboration with him on what I consider to be a pretty damn stunning salmon sector dial chronograph with a 36.5mm case represents the longest gestation period of any limited edition watch I’ve ever made. That is something Malec warned me about from the beginning. He said to me a year and a half ago, “Wei, I want you to know that I take a very long time to consider a watch perfect. You will have to be patient.” And damn if he wasn’t right. But it was worth it because even at USD 670, the resulting Baltic Bicompax Pulso for Revolution & The Rake is not only one of the most accessibly priced timepieces we’ve ever made, but also one of the most beautiful.

So, let’s address the elephant in the room first. Why a salmon dial? Well, because the prototype — or let’s say the earlier prototype for this watch as there was one more — was offered for sale at our charity auction The Pink Dial Project, which raised money for breast cancer awareness, research, prevention and cure. And as salmon is about as close to pink as you can get, and pink is the color of breast cancer awareness, Malec and I thought this would be apt. But hang on a second, I get it. You’re like, “How the hell can you start a story about a father and a son that never met and then segue into talking about your latest limited edition? Dude, pull your shit together and tell us the real story behind Baltic. Like the title says, tell us about the ethics of Etienne Malec.” And you are right. So, let’s do this.

The Raison D’être Of Baltic

Etienne Malec’s early life was marred by the premature passing of his father who was, by all accounts, an extraordinary man. His father’s passions included cameras, cars and watches. Says Malec, “Unfortunately, the reality was that we had to sell his cars and cameras, but we ended up keeping his watches. And it was really through his watches that I began to know my father in a more intimate way. Because I was so young when he passed, I didn’t really have a relationship with him in an adult sense. But through his watches, I started to understand his thinking, his philosophy, his aesthetics and his identity. This also imprinted on me what extraordinary objects watches are. In that they survive beyond you, they endure, they are perennial and they are vessels of communication that connect you with future generations. I think that one day I would like to present my father’s watches to my own children and teach them about the man that he was. I would like them to also have all the watches that I’ve made, and I find it charming that one day they will also tell their children about me through these extraordinary objects. Anyway, my father clearly had a penchant for vintage chronometers and chronographs. I became enamored with these styles of watches. At the same time, my mother told me, ‘Don’t be precious about the watches because your father never was. Wear them and use them as he would want that. And if you don’t have any emotion for certain models, trade them for something else as this was what he used to do.’ My father’s watches became my education in horology.”

Soon, Malec became something of an expert in early to mid-20th century timepieces and could be found in online chat rooms debating the relative merits of famous vintage chronograph movements such as the Longines 13ZN vs the Valjoux 72. Says Malec, “Through my father’s watches, I fell in love with vintage horology. But I also realized that these watches had their limitations for everyday use. I started to look for a modern-day equivalent to these amazing timepieces, but everywhere I searched, these watches didn’t exist. The modern watches were all too big, or had some vintage details but were executed in a way that didn’t resonate with me. I began discussing this with my friends and the collector community, and they all agreed there was nothing out there that responded to our needs.” With this statement, Malec perfectly expresses the issue with modern watch brands which are invariably overseen by management entirely out of touch with the tastes of the modern generation. One of the biggest issues today is this generational gap where you have watches created by old people that think they understand what young people want. But the problem is that they don’t.

Published

December 2021

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