Introducing the Baltic Tricompax Panda & Reverse PandaBy Sheng Lee
A watchmaker that thrives on vintage design, Baltic continues to hit it out of the park with its attractive yet affordable wristwatches, but today the brand has just unveiled something different. Retaining the usual retro flair, the latest Tricompax Panda & Reverse Panda is the brand’s top-of-the-line model with a Swiss-made, hand-wind chronograph movement.
Available in either “panda” or “reverse panda” dial configurations, the Tricompax isn’t a homage to a specific model of the past, but a combination of several defining characteristics of the famous racing chronographs from the 1960s, unsurprisingly given the people behind the brand are all vintage cars enthusiasts.
The bracelet, for instance, recalls the ref. 1039 flat-link bracelet installed on the Speedmaster, while the dial is a dead ringer for the Daytona. Notably, the bracelet has been kitted out with modern features like pull-tab spring bars for easy removal.
Unlike earlier Baltic’s chronographs, the Tricompax has triple counters situated at the lower half of the dial, as opposed to the usual twin counters found in the Bicompax. That’s thanks to the new movement within, the Sellita SW-510 M that’s derived from the ETA7753 but without a winding rotor, meaning it’s a manual wind and has a slightly longer running time of 63 hours.
Naturally, the Tricompax is replete with all the elements that demonstrate a good eye for design. Take for example the silver dial, which is dressed in an off-white livery and finished with sparkling, fine graining to give it a warmer feel. It is further nuanced by the the stamped guilloche on the counters as well as the applied markers.
The Tricompax scores high in terms of size and proportion. For many people, 39.5 mm is the perfect size, and notably it’ll be perceived to be more wearable thanks to wide bezel that results in a smallish dial, which translates to a smaller look that helps with the vintage charm. While the case is on the thicker side at 13.5 mm, it has been smartly designed with a thin case middle that’s about a third of the overall height to disguise the thickness when worn on wrist.
While there are been plenty of vintage-inspired watches out there, it’s not so common to find examples that get everything right, but Baltic manage to do just that. While the Tricompax combines several features each famously associated with a different watch, which should arguably appears confused on paper, but the result is surprisingly coherent and appealing.
I like everything about the watch, especially the thick tachymeter bezel that gives it a sporty-retro vibe, but I do find the indices a little plain for the overall styling. If you are looking for a retro chronograph with a hand-wind movement, the Tricompax is a strong contender.
That said, the Tricompax is more expensive than a typical Baltic at about US$1,656 on bracelet, though that’s unavoidable due to the upgrade within. The Swiss-made movement explains why it’s pricier than earlier models with movements of Japanese and Chinese origins, which cost about a third.
While more expensive, the Tricompax is nevertheless reasonably priced. It has an edge over its peers from Hamilton and Tissot that cost around US$2000, but it’s comparable to examples from other small brands such as Christopher Ward.
Baltic Tricompax Panda & Reverse Panda
Movement: Sellita SW-510M; hand-wind; 63 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Case: 39.5 x 13.5 mm; stainless steel; water resistant to 50 m
Strap: Steel bracelet or calf leather strap
Price: €1,585 on strap; €1645 on bracelet
Availability: Direct from Baltic during pre-order from 3:00 pm GMT, December 1-11, 2022