Portugal's Borealis Watch Company has assembled an impressive stable of tool and diving watches. I've already told you about the military Scout Sniper and the marvelously eccentric Scorpionfish. Today's subject is the Batial, the company's first bronze case. Borealis provided a black dial with a date function for my evaluation.
I first saw the Batial in pre-production 3D renderings when Borealis announced pre-orders. The round bronze case and straightforward 12/3/6/9 dial certainly looked attractive enough, calling to mind certain Anonimo designs. The 44x51mm dimensions were par for the course for a deep diver, and while the promise of a 13.5mm thickness sounded appealing, I could not get a feel for it in the illustrations. This is where computers can fail us because while the Batial failed to capture my imagination floating out there in soulless 3D cyberspace, I found the genuine article to be delightful.
Drawing inspiration from early diver's watches, the Batial eschews the familiar timing bezel, but it is more than capable of surviving the briny depths. Outward trappings include a solid screw down case back, screw down crown, and helium release valve. Less obvious are the Viton and Tefzel seals, which sound like something out of Game of Thrones, but are actually synthetic polymers. Borealis says these thin, high-tech gaskets allow the watch to achieve 3000m water resistance without increasing its thickness. Flipping the watch over reveals a solid screw-down case back decorated with the Borealis mermaid. Inside is a 24 jewel Miyota 9015, the familiar hacking and hand winding automatic with a smooth 28.8k bph beat rate and over 40-hour power reserve.
For a large watch, the Batial appears remarkably compact. Its relatively low profile goes a long way in this respect, but it is not the only slimming element. A fixed, unmarked bezel creates a broad expanse of negative space around the dial, making it appear smaller than it would had it been occupied by a dark insert. A steep angle and smooth edge help it blend into the body of the case. Even the lines of the raised case sides, which increase the overall diameter, serve to break up what would otherwise be a slab like surface, thus reducing the appearance of height. The only thing I might have wanted would be a beveled bottom edge to minimize the perceived thickness just a bit more. That, I admit, is little more than Monday morning quarterbacking. The case works beautifully as it is. It such a natural fit on my 6.5" wrist that I had to go back and check the dimensions as I was convinced it was no larger than 43mm.
The dial is another aspect that delivered more than I expected. Its wave-textured primary surface is set deep in the case, surrounded by a smooth raised ring with a printed index. Oversized numerals and small darts mark the hours. Sword hands extend right to the edge of their markers. The orange second hand and "3000m" text add a pop of color, and green-white C3 pops to life at night. You may choose from black, green, blue, or brown, with or without a date which, along with the crown, is just north of 4:00. It is an odd placement, but the date window fits neatly between the big 3 and the small 4:00 marker, so it does not appear off-center.
Borealis provides a 22mm black calfskin leather strap with a signed bronze buckle. I find it odd when a diver's watch arrives without a suitably waterproof strap, but they offer an Isofrane-style in vulcanized rubber for $15. I tried both and I appreciated the rubber, even though I wore the leather more often.
The sculpted bronze buckle is certainly attractive, but unduly bulky, and its execution falls short. Hard edges and sharp corners make it feel unfinished - a quality I've noticed on other micro brands' buckles lately. I hope it isn't a trend. A new buckle is an easy fix, but it shouldn't be necessary. On the other hand, the rubber strap was perfectly comfortable, and its buckle was both nicely finished and better proportioned than its fancier bronze counterpart. I rather wish Borealis had fashioned the bronze buckle in the flatter, Isofrane style. If you find you like the big bronze buckle, you will be happy to know that it fits the dive strap too.
Screw bars secure both the strap and the bronze buckle and Bum readers know have no love for them. Sure, they are secure, but they can also be tricky to remove and replace. I hate fiddling with two screwdrivers, trying not to strip the heads, hoping I don't slip and scratch the case... It's a pain. Fortunately, Borialis makes it easy. They supply a pair of Allen wrenches and the bars have hex heads for a better fit and less chance of slip. I managed to get them off without fuss. I also liked the way the stainless heads looked against the bronze and the way they tied in the steel release valve fitting.
One evening with the Batial and I was hooked. I just loved the way it fit. In short order, this attractive, tough, yet surprisingly wearable piece had become my weekend "go-to" watch. Make no mistake; 44mm is a big watch on just about any wrist, so the Batial does not want for presence, but the case is so cleverly tailored that just about anyone can enjoy it. For $445 direct from BorealisWatch.com, I'd call it a great value.
Pro: Great specs. Compact proportions.
Con: Disappointing buckle.