When French brand Baltic Watches first came on the scene in 2016, it was at the peak of the vintage reissue craze. The brand found success with its early, dressier HMS and Bicompax 001, but seemed to really hit the watch nerd jackpot with its Aquascaphe diver. The Aquascaphe and its GMT sibling are representative of the late 2010s and microbrand watch companies: restrained vintage design with proportions to match, flying directly in the face of the big, bold watches which prevailed during the preceding decade. For its first several years in business, Baltic seemed to catch and ride the wave of every trend, creating appealing watches that perhaps fell short of speaking for themselves. Then in 2021, the brand released the MR01 with a microrotor movement, Breguet numerals, and an offset subdial. All of a sudden, it was very clear that it had found a niche and hit its stride with a compact design language that harkened back to its original models but showed a brand that had greatly matured. Released in the Fall of 2023, the Baltic Hermétique Tourer collection is a clear continuation of the Baltic strut.

These watches stand out, even amongst the Baltic lineup. When I saw them at a show this year, despite the watches arrayed at the brand’s booth, I was immediately drawn to the Hermétique models. The compact 37mm case is in line with the brand’s approach of using smaller, wearable cases, but the dial is what really grabs you. It’s layered, with plenty of contrast, and the four colors are warm and welcoming. The color-matched rubber waffle straps throw you off: on a watch this size, you expect leather, because watches this size are more often than not dress watches. However, the Hermétique Tourer isn’t a dress watch, but Baltic’s first take on a field watch.

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With a 46mm lug-to-lug and fitted to a rubber strap, the watches wear incredibly well on the wrist. The only people who may have an issue are those with truly large wrists, above 8 inches or so (or perhaps if you just can’t stomach watches under 40mm, though I expect you’ve had an aneurysm by now with all the “small” watches being released). The watches are also available on beads of rice or flat link bracelets, and all three options have quick-release tabs, plus swaps are even easier thanks to the case’s drilled lugs. While they offer 150m water resistance, they remain thin at just 10.8mm, though 2.5mm is from the dramatic domed sapphire, which has become another calling card for Baltic. Most remarkable on the Hermétique case, though, is the recessed crown. Baltic describes the crown as “integrated,” but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer; on watches, we’ve come to consider integration as a permanent attachment (see: bracelets), and that describes literally every crown. The recessed crown sits flush with the case, meaning there’s no dig at all and the watch can be worn comfortably on either wrist. I loved the unfettered silhouette, but I did find I had to use my fingertip to pull the crown out from its underside.

The Hermétique is offered in four dial colors: beige, blue, brown, and green. First, I’m pleased that a brand isn’t trying to fancify colorways and is just calling them what they are. Second, it’s really hard to choose a favorite (though the blue is a classic color, and for that reason, I’d probably be less inclined to choose it). The dials are all about balance and legibility. The polished syringe hands are the perfect length while the lollipop on the seconds hand is an ideal size to be readable without looking like a giant paddle. Matching the lume in the hands, the applied markers are molded from Super-LumiNova C3 (or BGW9 on the blue and beige dials). The lume is exceptionally bright and evenly applied, which is a welcome level of quality at this price point. Each dial is surrounded by a railroad minute track. The one change I may make is to the Baltic name, which is printed in white (black on the beige dial); I think I’d prefer it in very slightly raised polished execution.

The Baltic Hermétique Tourer watches all have simple circular brushed casebacks that screw down and protect the automatic Miyota 9039 movement. Most of you will be familiar with this Japanese movement from Citizen-owned Miyota, as it’s the preferred choice for upmarket microbrands seeking to keep things somewhat affordable. Some bemoan the whir of the uni-directional winding rotor, but I find it charming. The movement offers a 42-hour power reserve at 28,800 vph.

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The chromatic quartet here won me over instantly. The size and quirky crown may not be for everyone, but I didn’t find anything to dislike with these watches. In fact, I’m right on the edge of snagging one of these, if I can only choose which one — I’m leaning toward beige or brown. With the Hermétique and the MR01, Baltic is really flexing its design chops, and I’m hopeful that the brand will continue to do so with its future releases. The Baltic Hermétique Tourer watches are priced at €550 on rubber and €615 on bracelet. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

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