One April evening, together with a friend (Kuba), we came up with the idea of ride with his newly purchased Niva Ladna 1990 for Złombol. Złombol is a biggest in the world charity rally of cars associated with the Polish Republic to various parts of the world. The goal of this year’s, 13th edition was Ireland. Yes, 2500km one way, including 2 crossings by the sea (4 in total), old cars, often 30 years old, Lada, Żuk, Autosan, Fiat 125p, etc. is a great trip. One of the conditions that must be met to be able to participate in this rally is to collect at least PLN 2,000 for children from orphanages from donors who in return receive advertising space on these cars (stickers). In the group of donors that we were able to obtain was Balticus Watches. The entire contact with Bartosz Knop (owner of the brand) took place by phone. I really appreciate people like Bartek – real, kind, who can say straight what they can and can not do. I believe after that professionals are recognized.
Bartek wanted to help. He donated a good amount to the charity account and among other things thanks to him we were able to start in this edition of Złombol. He trusted us despite the fact that he never saw us live. And we got to the finish in return 🙂
Because we caught a good contact, Bartek sent me a few pieces of watches for 3 weeks before leaving, saying “you can take them with you to Złombol, you will send it back after returning”.
Already before departure, I tested some of these Balticus, all them made a very positive impression on me in live. I was especially surprised by Volans because on the pictures it seemed grandfather and boring and it turned out to be a very interesting and nice watch, I wore it for a few days at work and I found that I would gladly join such a watch with a white dial for my collection.
On the trip we take 3 watches – Kuba took Black Dust and I took Black Dust Matte and Gray Seal in the blue gradient which the day before I put on the Nick Mankey strap. This strap, although it does not match the watch color and is generally not the most beautiful, has one undeniable advantage – it’s the most comfortable strap in the world. Tomek laughed that the strap is made of rubber from underpants but it’s this stretch that owes its entire comfort. The strap is is fixed differently than Nato, it has no layer passing under the watch so that it does not thicken it, it’s so stretchy that the watch on it is simply attached to the wrist as well as the sports coat. I was carrying the Grey Seal on the second day of the trip when the outside temperature reached 37 degrees Celsius and inside the car probably over 50. The lada has constant 4-wheel drive and the transmission works all the time, which heats the car from the inside as if we were using the heating. The car was warming to such an extent that the oil in the gearbox bubbled up and flew sideways into the interior of the car.
In these conditions, the previously prepared Seal worked very well, the watch, despite its size (44mm wide case), is very comfortable and visually seems to be much smaller. It is due to the short and bent lugs – the design was just very well thought out, people with smaller wrists than mine (18cm)can easily wear this watch.
Two-colored dial looks very nice and the watch itself is not lacking in terms of quality. I think that it will fit a brighter, colorful strap, bur unfortunately I only had a black Nick at home 😉
The watch is not in my style, I appreciate the interesting design and quality of workmanship, but it just doesn’t suit me. For the remainder of the trip I’m wearing a Black Bust Matte which I decided to describe in more detail.
Although I don’t attach so much attention to the packaging in which watches come, I still always appreciate the producers who understand that not everyone has the same approach as me and for many people the box is important, especially when the watch is to be a gift and it would be fun to do good first impression. The Balticus box definitely makes a very good impression, it is a league higher than what Swiss watch manufacturers offer in the same budget. The blue, laminated case looks very exclusive, it opens by pressing the button and in the middle you will find a watch on the pillow and after lifting the inner filling, documents and an additional leather watch strap.
The case has a width of 42mm, its height is 13.9mm and through this thickness and the shape of the case itself the watch gives a massive impression. However, on the wrist lies well and on my hand the proportions are perfect, nothing sticks out or looks too big. The case has a specific, octagonal shape. Octagonal is also a fixed bezel which looks like a cap from the screw. All these elements are made very carefully and there are no shortcomings. Both the case and the bracelet are covered with a black DLC coating. The coating is matte and I expected that during the trip, where I would often poke my hand under the hood of the car, and reach out through the window will catch a lot of scratches. To my surprise, nothing like this happened and the watch has only one mark in the form of a chip. However, it would be difficult to blame the coating because I hit my wrist in a steel trash really hard so it would appear on the case regardless of whether it would have a coating or not. The chip can be seen in the pictures around 12:02.
Is the watch look ugly or unsightly for this reason? By no means, such traces give him charm, especially if it happened on such a trip as Złombol. Until the end of my life I will remember that I made this chip in Calais, returning from Ireland to Poland with the old Lada. And now ATTENTION! In spite of this deep cracking, the case in the cavity is still black! It gives an image of how thick the coating is and with what quality we are dealing with. It was a test that assured me that there is nothing to fear when it comes to the coating in this watch, you will have to try very hard to make it a hurt.
You must also remember that on the case with a black, matt coating you will see every dust and fat mark. If someone wants the watch to be clean all the time, unfortunately he will have to wipe it with a cloth from time to time … this is not new, the owners of black cars, black motorbikes, dark floor panels etc. have the same problems. The pictures clearly show what’s going on.
The crown is signed and screwed, works very well, it is easy to unscrew and screw and the time setting is not troublesome. Looking at the watch from the side you can immediately see its large thickness, the body is compact so the watch stands out from the wrist – this is also the reason why my watch has made contact with the metal bin … the frames in the house will not have life 😉
The watch has a waterproof level of 200m so you can swim and even dive safely. It’s good, I like it when I do not have to worry about accidental contact of the watch with water. Greater waterprofness in utility watches is completely unnecessary, causing only problems with re-sealing watches after service. A watch with WR up to 200m can open and seal any watchmaker, above this value there may be problems.
The case and lugs, by their shape, do not allow you to put on your watch bracelets and straps other than those dedicated to this model. The strap can also be made to order, eg at one of our forum colleagues.
The heart of the watch is the Japanese Miyota 8215 mechanism. Is this the Achilles heel of stardust models? Yes and no … yes because in practically every discussion about these watches, sooner or later there is a charge of using a “weak” mechanism. Bartek probably is already going to the side to listen and read it, I’m sure that if he could turn back time, he would use a different mechanism only for the peace of mind. No – because it is really a simple, reliable movement with repair that any watchmaker will be able to handle and if necessary, even a new one will not be expensive. The movement is also quite accurate, my copy is doing +5 seconds a day, which is better than even some of my watches with Swiss movements also this .. everything is a matter of regulation. And whether the stop-second function is necessary for life can be answered by everyone itself.
The dial is simply black, with no additional effect. And good because that’s what the watch is about, it has to be simple and modest 😉 Because I had a comparison with black dust I can say that it certainly does not make an impression like this model – the black dust dial is simply insane, for some reason looks better than dials in models with a steel case (stardust), it shimmers more. In black dust the effect is stunning, the dial really looks like a starry night sky. In both models there are also different indices and hands – Black Dust has gold and Black Dust Matte is silver.
The quality of the details on the dial is very good, the hourly indices have the form of narrowed rectangles and even after looking at them in a roughly approximate way, you will not see any shortcomings. Between the hourly indices and the case there is a circle of minute indexes which are painted in lines and hour ones are luminescent squares.
At 3 o’clock there is a discreet date window, the date is white numbers on a black background. I will repeat myself but for me it is very important that the date window matches the watch, and here it’s perfect, the date is visible only when you want to see it. Dauphine style hands match the dials and indexes very well – this is a classic that always works well with rectangular indexes. The second hand has the shape of an arrow with a circle instead of a fletching, the arrowhead is filled with a luminescent mass.
Since we are already at the lume, I must admit that I was positively surprised by the level of luma in this model. I expected that the luma would not fall on my knees, but it is better than good. Luma shines green, bright and long. It starts to shine when you move into the shadow with the watch, which gives a nice effect combined with the whole black case and dial, after exposure it shines so long that you can easily read the time on the watch until the morning. When in the evening at the campsite in Folkestone with Kuba we went out in search of some kebab or other pub for quick food, it was already dark and Kuba, who had not much contact with good watches so far, was shocked that the watch could shine so strong.
The round case back in the Black Matte is twin with the other varieties of this watch. In the central point there is a sticked glass cap with an illustration of stars in the sky – referring to the dials in stardust models. Thanks to the fact that the cap is sapphire, painted from the bottom, there is no risk that the illustration will wipe out. Around the cap are engraved standard information about the mechanism, waterproofness, manufacturer, etc. Of course, with this waterproof the case back is screwed.
Bracelet and strap
The bracelet is in my opinion the only real, weak punk of this watch. It is matte black like the watch case and is in itself good quality but what it lacks is a micro-adjustable clasp or smaller links that allow you to adjust the length of the bracelet. I like to wear a watch so that the strap or bracelet are on contact and here I didn’t have the opportunity. The bracelet was either too tight or looser than I usually wear watches. As it turned out later, everything turned out to be good because thanks to the fact that it was looser I could wear this watch during the hot weather that accompanied us on departure from Poland and in later days. The wrist was sweating and swollen and thanks to the looser space on the bracelet, wearing the watch still remained comfortable. Later I got used to this slack and now it does not bother me at all.
In the watch set we also receive a matte black leather strap. Both the bracelet and the strap are attached to pins so-called “Quick release” which means that you don’t need any additional tools to replace them, and you can do it yourself even a person not familiar with the subject of watches – a big plus, my wife is currently wearing Gold Dust in the women’s version and several times we already have it in handy.
The strap also doesn’t stand out qualitatively from the watch, it’s made very well, it’s quite soft and smells good. Personally, I will not wear a watch on it, but the fact of providing it in a set is the most positive, considering the use of specific lugs on the watch, preventing the use of standard straps.
As you can guess from the contents of the review, after returning to Poland I bought this watch from Bartek. He drove with me 5,000 km in the old, scattering Lada, for the 10 days that I had it on my wrist it managed to convince me to itself. Due to the fact that it’is all black, it is very versatile, fits almost all the cloths that I wear after work. I have been thinking about Star Dust for a long time and now I had the opportunity to see that the Balticus flag watch is not for me, but less popular, the Matte model fits my taste perfectly. It’s a great EDC, and in the set it’s sold in it creates a coherent set. Of course, it’s not perfect, but what watch in this budget is?
Ps. If someone would like to see our journey to the finish line, in real short- Kuba recorded Vlog, which can be viewed at this link: