Whereas we are able to say a whole lot of issues in regards to the yr 2021, each generally and in watchmaking, one factor is for sure. It was stuffed with surprises, left, proper and centre. Whereas we noticed new information being set, an out-of-control gray market increase and iconic watches being discontinued, we additionally noticed relative newcomers doing fairly superior issues. French impartial watchmaker Baltic is one such shock, as its MR01 took the fanatic’s world by storm. Quickly after the primary batch was offered out and delivered, costs on the secondary market shot up, regardless of guarantees of future batches. All of the extra motive to begin the brand new yr by chatting to Etienne Malec, founding father of Baltic.
Robin, MONOCHROME Watches – Hello Etienne, thanks for catching up with us on all issues Baltic. You’ve been very busy from what we might see occurring in 2021. Are you able to get us up to the mark on the present state of Baltic Watches?
Etienne Malec, founding father of Baltic Watches – Properly, it has been extraordinarily busy! 2021 was fairly a yr for us, the truth is, the most important yr we had. And 2022 has began even larger, so with all of the tasks now we have ongoing at the moment I’m certain this shall be a really constructive and thrilling yr once more. We’ve a dense yr as effectively in 2022, with greater than 5-7 ongoing tasks, together with collaborations, new designs and a few new ranges of watches. We’re nonetheless creating our catalogue to succeed in the place we needed to be once we began: providing totally different sorts of watches, for each totally different form of watch fanatic, all in a really attainable, interesting package deal.
Your MR01 assortment has been an enormous hit, which we form of anticipated once we first noticed it. How has that been for you?
Surprising! I’m the form of one that believes it when it’s really carried out. Earlier than that I’m all the time making an attempt to be linked to the bottom, not having immense expectations to keep away from disappointment. For the MR01, it’s a venture I’ve been engaged on for greater than 2 years earlier than the discharge. I needed to have the ability to get correct suggestions on the motion, to ascertain a very good relationship primarily based on belief with the Chinese language firm that does the motion, and to make the proper watch I needed with this motion: A classical, skinny, 40’s impressed gown watch.
As soon as I acquired the primary closing prototypes I TRULY believed within the potential of the watch, however I knew this might be dividing opinions, and it won’t be a business success ultimately. However I believed in it sufficient to go full energy on it and see the way it goes. And we weren’t disillusioned! So it is vitally constructive certainly, and we are going to hold pushing on this mannequin as a result of I really feel it deserves it.
The primary batch offered out fast, and at one level we noticed folks asking three to 4 occasions the retail value for an MR01 on Chrono24. What’s your impression of that?
Properly, it’s fairly difficult to offer you an opinion on this. The watch ambiance has modified drastically within the final 15 years since I’ve been in it. It’s like the entire world shifted in the direction of the identical craziness with reference to collectable issues, not simply watches.
Earlier than this, folks had been giving credit score solely to the most important manufacturers, now persons are far more open-minded and provides credit score to newcomers too. (Which is constructive). However then some folks would possibly suppose that this watch, or one other one for that matter, is likely to be the subsequent one to rise. In order that they try and spend money on it, flip it and make a fast revenue on it. In fact, folks had been all the time happy to do a small revenue on a classic watch purchased a couple of years again, however now it appears there is no such thing as a restrict, and folks do that with all the things. Which is a bit foolish generally… The availability and demand would possibly alter costs on the pre-owned watch market, which could naturally alter the worth over time. However generally you possibly can clearly see that a few of them usually are not naturally elevated by the market, however by folks making an attempt to make a fast revenue. The identical goes for automobiles, artwork, sneakers, playing cards and so on…
Regardless of this, it is vitally constructive after all to see that our watches don’t lose an excessive amount of of their worth generally and stay available on the market for a short while solely. (not talking in regards to the apparent flippers right here).
And the final be aware, we generally have folks asking us if the Baltic they purchase now would possibly rise in worth within the coming years. That is after all actually not for me to reply, though it exhibits that some folks put their cursors within the incorrect path. Accumulating watches have to be about watches, not buying and selling.
On reflection, would the launch of the MR01 be the most important achievement in Baltic’s brief however spectacular historical past up to now?
I’m a agency believer that the most important achievement is all the time the subsequent one! And I’ve some hints that we possibly have a much bigger one coming, simply possibly. It’s solely a matter of time.
That sounds intriguing! You’ve additionally entered a look ahead to the 2021 Solely Watch assortment. How did that venture come about? And may we anticipate one thing alongside these strains within the close to future?
I’ve all the time seen Solely Watch because the spotlight of horology occurring each two years. I by no means believed we could possibly be participating sooner or later. I believed this one was open to massive names solely… however sooner or later I acquired Luc’s telephone quantity via a standard good friend. We had a protracted and passionate dialog on the telephone and he advised me a couple of days later “Alright, are you able to be in?”.
That was fairly a shock. So we did our greatest to do one of the best watches we might within the time we had. Luc is now a really expensive good friend and we regularly see one another in Paris when he’s round. Solely Watch is such a constructive burst of power like he’s himself. He’s a really horizontal character, who doesn’t care a lot about standing. He actually believes everybody deserves their probability, irrespective of who you might be or how massive you might be. I’ve an immense quantity of respect for who Luc is, and for what he has carried out by remaining a easy, humble man. Kudos to him!
And to reply your second query, sure, OnlyWatch has opened doorways for us and has given us new concepts that we need to work on. We’ve some issues in thoughts however for now, it’s too early to let you know extra about it.
What has been the most important problem in your journey with Baltic, and has that modified with the continued pandemic?
The largest problem for us is to remain seen and to maintain doing our greatest to convey watches to our neighborhood. We’ve a whole lot of concepts, however are these coherent with our DNA? This query is redundant and it’s a problem to be coherent in the long term. The pandemic hasn’t modified a lot for us ultimately, as a result of our enterprise mannequin is principally centered on digital.
Would you say the pandemic has helped you in any potential method over the previous two years?
Possibly, possibly not! It’s exhausting to say for certain. I’d say that it has modified folks’s minds faster about shopping for issues on the internet and particularly watches. So this has helped us for certain. Regardless of that, it has raised the worldwide uncertainty and decreased some folks’s shopping for energy, which could not assist in the lengthy finish.
You’ve already hinted at a few issues, however trying forward, what’s subsequent within the story of Baltic? Which path would you wish to see the corporate develop in the direction of?
For the long run, I actually hope that we are going to achieve coherently sustaining our improvement by having a wider catalogue and subsequently contact a broader viewers. Additionally, step-by-step, I’d wish to internalize some competencies to be much less dependent and eventually, now we have an enormous venture to return in a couple of years. I really feel this is likely to be effectively obtained by the watch neighborhood.
For extra data, please go to Baltic-Watches.com