How do you balance vintage appeal with original watch design? Baltic always seems to have an answer, and with the new Tricompax chronograph, they've done it again. It offers Baltic's characteristic vintage sizing and the panda (and reverse-panda) style everyone loves — but also a Swiss mechanical movement, upping the microbrand's pricing territory to $1,700.
Does that add up to the strong value proposition Baltic is known for? You bet it does. Baltic watches are mostly under $1,000, but that's just not going to be possible for a Swiss mechanical chronograph. There are some great retro chronos in the sub-$2,000 range, but the Tricompax is highly competitive. There are even more affordable examples from the likes if Tissot and microbrand Maen, and the Yema Speedgraf (which we love) is almost the same price as the Tricompax (and is comparable in other ways) but it's powered by a Seiko automatic movement. Nivada's Chronomaster will run you around $100 more.
The Baltic Tricompax runs on a manually wound Sellita SW510-M movement. With the build quality and attention to detail expected of Baltic and other premium elements like sapphire crystal, it makes for a pretty strong bang-for-buck proposition.
The best part, aside from its overall fantastic vintage design, is a moderate sizing at 39.5mm wide and not too thick (13.5mm, including the crystal) thanks to the manual-winding movement (rotors on automatic movements tend to add thickness).
The French brand's watchmaking journey seems to have come full circle. Debuting in 2017, vintage fans were delighted with its debut release, the Bicompax 001 chronograph. The Bicompax (two subdials) put the brand on the map thanks to its design, size and value at just a few hundred bucks, but it was powered by the sometimes problematic Seagull ST19 movement. Now, only five years later the new Tricompax (three subdials) seems to nod to that early model but reflect how the company has grown and refined its product. It follows a similar recent limited-edition watch, but these look even better and join the permanent collection.
At current exchange rates, the preorder price of around $1,700 looks like a lotta watch for the money from one of our favorite microbrand watchmakers. Preorders start December 1, 2022, with deliveries beginning next year.