The Manuel arrived fairly quick via DHL in 2 days from France - in a nice Cork style box which flips open to a light velvet blue interior. It immediately reminded me of the old Rolex boxes from the 80s and 90s, which is quite warming :-).
The Baltic Manuel Chronograph is comprised of solid 316L stainless steel which is entirely brushed besides the polished smooth bezel. I do love the vintage styled case which contains drilled lug holes and a very reasonable diameter of 38MM x 12.8MM. This watch truly wears like a dream, and many watch enthusiasts are demanding smaller case sizes - so it seems Baltic is paying attention to the market. In terms of the wingspan we get 47MM long which sits just perfectly across my 6.5” wrist with no hangover at all. There are also small piston head pushers for the chronograph stop/start/reset which work just fine and are grippy at pretty much any given angle. A nice detail is the signed Baltic crown which is pull/push - with the case being rated at 50M. This is most definitely not something to play in the water with though, so keep that in mind. Although, with daily hand washing and downpours I do not see an issue here. Lastly, the caseback has a beautiful exhibition window which really displays the column wheel chronograph in full, which is a delight.
My iteration uses the Cream/white dial which is a great aesthetic when going for a vintage inspired timepiece as it truly does look vintage. Some small details I found that I liked is the Blued chronograph hand which contrasts nicely with the black hour and minutes hands. Another thing to mention is the proportions here. Some brands simply fail when it comes to text to subdial ratio...but they honestly did a very good job here and everything looks in place. Lastly, the beauty of a vintage watch such as the old Speedmasters is the domed Hesalite crystal which Baltic proudly boasts on this model. I truthfully do not think the watch would have looked true to the age it mimics without this small detail.
Now, inside the Manuel is the Seagull ST1901. This movement originated from the older V175 column wheel chronograph movements created by France ebauche in the mid 1940s - later sold to China for the patent and use of creating an affordable, yet beautiful column wheel
chronograph movement. If you think about it, Baltic is a French company and does assemble their timepieces in France - so I do not see a better match. You can expect 45 hours of power reserve with this one while it beats away at 21,600 BPH.
My piece came standard with a 20MM french calf leather band ( tapers to 18MM ). I think the strap suits the timepiece and is indeed flexible, requiring no break in period. One thing I did notice is the signed brushed buckle - which is proportioned perfectly to the case and strap dimensions. I see so many brands using rather large oversized buckles lately, its refreshing to see it done right.
Furthermore, the Baltic Bicompax definitely surprised
me in a few ways. First of all, the Seagull ST1901 is a beautifully decorated and functional movement - which I happen to adore. Secondly, some great thought and effort really went into producing and assembling these chronographs - which definitely shows in the final product. I mean, what’s not to love about a well made vintage inspired chronograph? I admit, they are not suitable for everyone nor is any watch. However, if you are a true watch enthusiast and realize how classic and timeless those designs are - you will definitely appreciate slapping the Manuel on your wrist.