Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver

On Monday, February 17, Alan Tsao of Tsao Baltimore will start taking pre-orders for his third project, the Constellation Chrono-Diver. Named for the square-rigged, 19th-century warship now docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, this watch has the unenviable task of following the wildly successful Tsao Torsk-Diver, which funded in about a nanosecond and is still a popular piece. I'm sure he was tempted to do a "Son of Torsk" sequel, but instead, he opted to do something different - a MechaQuartz chronograph. He let me take a turn with a prototype, and I liked what I saw. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver

True to its name, Chrono-Diver is ready for 200m - provided you can resist pushing those chronograph buttons while submerged. Of course, no one really needs a chronograph while diving, but the added protection is nice to have when engaging in any other water-borne activity. In every other aspect, the Constellation is a fully capable diving watch. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver wrist shot

Unlike its burly predecessor, the Constellation is more modestly sized, measuring 41mm wide, 48mm long, and 15mm thick from the case back to the top of the crystal. This makes it a better fit on my 6.75" wrist than the 43mm Torsk. Even though it is smaller than the Torsk, it is by no means diminutive and the case's sharp barrel shape accentuates its athletic presence. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver

I see a late '60s - early '70s aesthetic at work here, particularly in the lugs, which are particularly well rendered on this model. Skinny and knife-edged, they fall away from the case at a dramatic angle. In profile, you will see one of Tsao's signature elements, an arc bridging the lugs and showcasing the grooved and polished barrel beneath. A brightly polished bevel running the length of the otherwise brushed case terminates in a stiletto-like point at the lugs' outer edges. Many designers would have finished the shape with a sharp angle on the underside; however, Tsao rounded it off, losing nothing in aesthetics while significantly contributing to the wearer's comfort.  

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver

I need to jump right to the bracelet here because its seamless integration into the case adds so much to the Constellation's personality. That sheer drop at the lugs is matched by the bracelet's end link. Combine that with an impressibly tight fit to the case, and the result looks almost like a single chiseled block of steel. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver

The bracelet itself is a quality piece, tapering from 20mm to 18mm at the clasp. Because Alan and I both have small wrists, the prototype arrived perfectly sized. The clasp is of the extension variety that seems to be all the rage these days. I like its engraving, push-button releases, and micro-adjustments, but I must admit that I would have preferred a slimmer flip-lock to this boxy style. That said, at 10mm, the Constellation's is thinner than most and does not exhibit the desktop destroying corners I have found on others. If you prefer something different, you can easily pop off the bracelet with a simple squeeze of its quick-release pins, which by the way, are brilliant. Every bracelet should have these. Although I did not get the chance to sample one, the Constellation will also come with a sailcloth strap. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver clasp

While it is obviously a new design, the Constellation borrows some of the best bits of the Torsk. The dial layout may seem familiar, as its layout is close to that of its sibling, and it has similarly shaped polished and applied markers, although the hands are more chrono-appropriate polished and faceted batons with a white-painted and red-tipped sweep hand. Like the diver, it boasts a tall, coin-edged, 120-click bezel with a domed, sapphire insert, a domed sapphire crystal, and a signed, lumed, coin-edged, screw-down crown that mirrors the bezel's design. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver

This is a gorgeous dial. Every tic on every index is finely rendered and crystal clear.  Tsao offers the Constellation in black on white Panda, white on black Reverse Panda, Sea Green, and the Marine Blue shown here (a dark teal color that really comes to life in the bezel insert). The sunken, contrasting chapter ring makes a return as well. Both the bezel and insert are lumed like they are on the Torsk. These elements blaze to life in a green C3 SuperLuminova glow at night, but they are still not the boldest feature in the dark. That honor goes to the Constellation's recessed small seconds and 24-hours subdials, which are lumed on every model but the Panda. That model trades the glowing registers for a full lume dial. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver lume

On the flip side, the watch boasts a stamped, screw-down case back showing the Constellation's star insignia. The detail is impressive, and it stands in high relief. Behind it, hums a Seiko VK64 MechaQuartz, one of the more interesting battery-driven movements you can buy. It marries a quartz timekeeper to a mechanical chronograph module for excellent button action, smooth sweep, and crisp snap-back reset. 

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver case back

Pre-orders begin February 17, 2020, with delivery expected in May or June. Full retail will be $450, and those who jump on the pre-orders will get it for just $350. There will be only 200 of each unit, so if the Constellation grabs you (and I don't see why it wouldn't), you will do well to head over to tsaobaltimore.com and check it out. ⬩

Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver
Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver clasp
Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver
Tsao Baltimore Constellation Chrono-Diver lume

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