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Back in April, I picked up the Baltany Dirty Dozen homage from @rlachcik and was quite impressed. Very good build quality with fantastic lume. Since then, have kept an eye on Baltany as there is a strong value for dollar for what they deliver. During this past AliExpress sale in June, saw another small second watch with a linen dial that quite caught my eye. Being a sucker for both a small second complication and a linen dial, it was 100% up my alley.
On the off chance, I reached out to Baltany Watches Official Store to ask if they had one available to send out for review. Unfortunately that wasn't a model that was available for promotions. Boo. So I went ahead and bit the bullet, bought the watch and decided to proceed with a review regardless. Here we are, quite possibly one of the few non-sponsored Baltany reviews!
Baltany Watches, I assume, is a factory brand out of China. Their calling card was their Dirty Dozen homage watch that quickly became the darling of the YouTube reviewer set. Understandable, it's a great watch. Looking through the rest of their collection, they're definitely focused on military style and other vintage inspired pieces.
I'm fairly sure that part of Baltany's marketing success with their Dirty Dozen model is their name. Baltany, which appears to be an anglicized version of Baotai Ni, sounds "right" to a Western audience compared to some of the other Chinese brands out there. And let's be honest, if you weren't knowledgeable or paying too much attention, Baltany could easily have been one of the original Dirty Dozen manufacturers. Think about it, Grana, Timor, Vertex, Baltany, Cyma...fits right in, doesn't it?
Baltany is available through several AliExpress storefronts, along with their own Ali official store, as well as a dedicated webstore.
AliExpress Official Store - https://baltanywatches.aliexpress.com/store/1101769064
Baltany Website - https://baltanywatch.com/
The Official Store on AliExpress calls this model the "Small Second Hand Mechanical Watch Fluted Caseback 36mm Stanless Steel Case Leather Strap Dress Wristwatch," while Baltanywatch.com has it listed as "36mm Small Second Hand Seagull ST1701 Mechanical Watch." So I'm splitting the difference and calling it the 36mm Small Second Automatic, Silver Linen Dial.
Baltany 36mm Small Second Automatic, Silver Linen Dial, model # S184040
AliExpress - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3256804212688332.html
Baltany Watch - https://baltanywatch.com/products/balta ... 5709489199
- Cost: currently about $146 on AliExpress or $159 directly through Baltany - before any coupons.
- Movement: Seagull ST1701 Automatic Mechanical Movement
- Case: 316L Stainless Steel
- Case Diameter: 36mm (including crown 39.3mm)
- Dial Diameter: 28.5mm
- Dial: Silver with Linen/Warp & Weft Pattern
- Lug to Lug : 44mm
- Thickness: 13.6mm (including glass)
- Crystal: Sapphire Crystal with AR Coating
- Hands: Polished, Willow Leaf Hands
- Luminous: No
- Crown: Screw-in,316L Stainless Steel
- Caseback: Screw-in, 316L Stainless Steel
- Strap: Genuine Leather
- Strap Width: 18mm
- Buckle: 316L Stainless Steel
- Waterproof: 200M
- Weight: 70g
- Warranty: 2 Years
The obvious first thing I noticed was that Baltany uses branded tape on their boxes. Good thing they're not too well known of a brand, or that's a clear tip off for someone to snake the package en route. Inside the box, the watch comes in a zippered protective case, along with an extra NATO strap, polishing cloth, tool, instruction manual, and signed warranty card.
The second thing that I noticed was the weight of the watch. Comes in at 70g, but has more of a heft to it than what the 36mm size would suggest. And then the linen dial caught my eye. Yes, linen dial was definitely among the first things I noticed.
The case for this is supposed be an homage to or inspired by some old Rolex. I mean, I guess. I don't know or care enough about Rolex to know for sure, but "bubbleback" does seem to get thrown around. And baby has back.
The case finishing is simple, but effective. The bezel is high polished, along with the curved sides of the case. The top and bottom of the case and lugs are brushed. And the section of the case between the lugs sits just slightly lower adding some dimensionality from the top view. With the high polished sides and knurling on the caseback, the profile is slightly reminiscent of a freshly waxed vintage sportster.
The crystal is a tall, boxed sapphire with a slight amount of distortion along the edges.
Not sure what the exact terminology is, so I'm going to call the crown a "half onion." Visually, not 100% sure if fits the overall aesthetic. Unsigned, which seemed a bit of a miss since Baltany does have a logo they could've used. And it felt slightly gritty unscrewing it. Used some dental floss on the threads and that seemed to clear that up.
The screw down crown does factor into the 200m water resistance. Why anyone would need 200m water resistance in a dressy watch, I have no idea. But you got it in case you do ever need it!
The lugs appear to bend down, but they're just curved from the top and fairly flat along the bottom edge. And the case between the lugs is straight, opposed to circular. Which makes one think that straps would fit flush. However the lug holes are low and outside (to account for the NATO?), so there is generally a "strap gap." Not anything that personally bothers me visually, but I can understand if it's an annoyance for others.
The hands and numerals are polished steel with a blue second hand in the subdial. Honestly wish they would've gone with blue hands all around. But even though they were same color as the dial, never had any issues telling the time. Either a strong light reflection made the hands and numerals lighter than the dial or darker if away from the light. Either way, very good contrast when telling the time. The hands appear to be the correct length too, which is always a plus.
The dial is the moneymaker and the main reason I was drawn to the watch and it does not disappoint. Like the old cliché, pictures do not do it justice. The pattern can be very subtle or really stand out when the light hits it just right. Just adds that extra visual interest when looking down on your wrist. The applied numerals have a good thickness to them and raise off the top dial fairly substantially. The subdial for the seconds hand is deeply inlaid with strong concentric circles. Overall, there is a LOT of depth to the dial and simply amazing that you are getting all of that for roughly $150.
The caseback, or "bubbleback" if you prefer, is straight up boring. There's nothing to it. No engravings, no markings, nothing. Just a high polish with a similar knurling to the crown along the edge. This will likely become a huge scratch magnet, and I would've preferred a brushed caseback. But guess the original Rolex had a plain, polished caseback, so this has to have one too.
With the solid caseback, no view of the movement. Not sure that seeing the Seagull ST1701 would be an improvement. Over the week straight that I wore it, seemed to gain about 2 minutes over the seven days. Though hard to accurately gauge that as the movement doesn't hack so hard to get that initial read. But no complaints with those results. I'm sure if I wanted, I could try to fiddle with the regulation. But don't want to jeopardize that 200m water resistance! Seriously, if anything goes wrong with the movement, there's the 2 year warranty or just pick up a new movement cheap and have it swapped out. Easy peasy.
The leather strap is decent. Not terrible and certainly not great. Above what I've seen come with other similar factory brands. The leather has a good thickness and pliability that helps to offset the heavy watch head. The minimal stitching is vintage inspired. The embossed pattern might be buffalo, I think. Admittedly not too well versed in leather to know for sure. Standard tang and buckle, also unsigned for whatever reason.
I suppose I need to discuss the included NATO strap. But I don't want to. I don't really care for NATO straps. I find them bulky and uncomfortable. But I did put it on and found it didn't work for me. Here's the pic, you can judge for yourself if it works and something you would wear regularly.
Word of warning to those who haven't caught on by now. There is NO lume. None. That could be the dealbreaker for some. I'm not a lume junkie, so not an issue for me. But had to address that fact, especially as the lume on their Dirty Dozen was something that was raved about.
With a silver dial on a stainless case, the monochromatic base would make for a perfect pallet for just about any strap. The only limitation I personally found was not having enough 18mm straps on hand. Something I obviously need to correct. There is no bracelet option for this Baltany, but luckily the Forstner came to the rescue.
I am very happy with this purchase. The size is fantastic for me. The design checks a lot boxes I dig. The construction is solid. And as everyone is prone to say, so much "bang for the buck."
Now having experienced two different Baltany watches, they are a brand I wouldn't hesitate to buy from again. Their pricing is competitive. The specs are what you want and expect. And feels like something that will last for years. Honestly the only area that I feel will fail might be the movement, but since Seagull has been around forever no true concerns there.
For anyone who is into military inspired watches or designs from the 30s - 50s, take a look at Baltany. Especially during the AliExpress sales as coupons can make the pricing even better and harder to resist.
- Lovely design with a vintage feel.
- Overall size was great for me and wore well.
- The linen pattern on the dial is stunning.
- The depth of the dial with the applied numerals and sunken subdial is amazing at this price point.
- The high polish of the hands and numerals made it easy to read the time in any lighting condition.
- The boxed sapphire gave it a vintage look but with no concerns for scratching.
- Once I pick up more 18mm straps, this is going to work with just about anything I throw on it.
- Does tend to feel slightly top heavy.
- Wish the hands were blue like the second hand, as that would take the design to the next level.
- Would've appreciated a movement that hacks. I would pay more to get a better movement.
- That caseback is going to be a scratch magnet and I'm just going to have to be OK with that.
- The crown action was a little gritty out of the box, thankfully the dental floss seems to have cleared that up.
- There should be some branding on the crown and buckle to tie everything together. Especially as Baltany has a logo they can easily incorporate.
- Speaking of branding, Baltany needs to work on their model names. Something more consistent and succinct across their collections would help them market their models better.
- Otherwise, hard to find too many things to complain about, especially when you consider this a $150 watch.
WOULD I BUY THIS?
I actually DID buy this.
And I would buy from Baltany again and probably will.
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Run or hide just for fun deals I find
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Baltany has had some pretty impressive buzz and success in a relatively short period. After reading the review, I can see why.
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