A Watch to Tell YOUR Story:
Introducing Balor Watches

Article By: Logan Hannen

FROM THE PRESS | JUNE 19, 2019

In partnership with Balor Watches

Watchfam, meet Balor.

Balor, meet the Watchfam.

With that basic introduction out of the way, it’s time to dive into the meat and potatoes of one of the most interesting microbrands I’ve seen cross the T&H desk in a good minute. Balor was born out of a desire to fill what its founders viewed as a void in the watch space. Typically, we see brands, both old and new, trying to associate their watches with a lifestyle or set of ideals. In a sense, what they’ve managed to do is say who should and shouldn’t wear their pieces based on the lives they lead, no matter how complex or neutral the watches themselves actually are.

The most common place to see this kind of marketing is in other microbrands, notable for founding their entire branding on the notion of “affordable luxury,” noting such buzzwords as “direct to consumer” and “cutting out the middleman.” But in a space where even established luxury brands like Cartier, JLC, and IWC are offering their watches for sale directly from their own websites, this model is no longer effective. It also lacked one specific thing – soul.

Balor’s philosophy is most effectively summed up as this: they want you to see their watches, with no preconceived notions of what the watch should mean to you, and build your own story around it. They want your connection to the watch to be with the watch itself, and not with the image it is presented alongside. They have very purposely avoided associating their timepieces with any specific genre of watch, be it sport, dress, aviation, etc.

The press release states, “Balor Watches inspire something different… They embody the best qualities of the famous signature timepieces… without demanding to conform with the stories that are not yours.”

Okay, so now we have a pretty solid grasp of what Balor is all about, so let’s get to the watches themselves.

The Balor BLR1432

Source: Theo & Harris

Case Diameter: 43mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Lug Width: 22mm
Dial: Textured Diamond Patisserie with Contemporary Breguet Numerals
Strap: Genuine Leather with Hermès Tapisserie
Crystal: Double Domed Sapphire with Anti-reflective Coating on Bottom
Movement: SEIKO VK64 Hybrid Chronograph Movement
Water Resistance: 5ATM (50 Meters)
Price: $299 (During the campaign) / $399 (MSRP Post-Campaign)

First up, we have the Balor BLR 1432, a 43mm steel chronograph powered by the Seiko VK64 Mecha-Quartz chronograph movement. The choice of movement here is a popular one, but a logical one, as it presents the feeling of a mechanical chronograph in nearly every way, but without the maintenance or need to wind it (and, at a lower price point). It’s a smart choice not just for microbrands, but for any brand wanting to offer a chronograph with that sense of luxury and prestige at a more accessible price point.

In terms of diameter, the BLR 1432 is on the larger side, but still appropriate for a chronograph. At 43mm it may sound too big, but a 50mm lug-to-lug distance ensures a higher degree of wearability than might first be suggested. The presence of a decent, though not obtrusive bezel also helps the piece wear more compact and evenly on the wrist.

Source: Theo & Harris

Then, of course, we have the dial which is incredibly well done, featuring an intricate but subtle diamond patisserie texture on the rich, matte black. The subdials are a contrasting brushed silver, featuring a circular graining pattern and printed Breguet numerals to match the applied steel ones for the main hour indices. The hour and minute hands are faceted dauphine style hands with C1 luminova down their center, and the main chronograph seconds hand is bright red to help it stand out from the rest of the dial. The Balor name and logo are printed in white at 12 o’clock, and there’s a date window at 4:30.

The Balor BLR 1401

Source: Theo & Harris

Case Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Dial: Black with Applied Battonet Indices
Strap: Genuine Leather with Hermès Tapisserie
Crystal: Double Domed Sapphire with Anti-reflective Coating on Bottom
Movement: SEIKO VK64 Hybrid Chronograph Movement
Water Resistance: 5ATM (50 Meters)
Price: $299 (During the campaign) / $399 (MSRP Post-Campaign)

Unlike the BLR 1432, the BLR 1401 comes in at 40mm in case diameter, with a 49mm lug-to-lug making it only marginally shorter than its bigger brother. The case design is also slightly different, featuring more vintage inspired welded lugs that protrude straight out from the case, rather than being blended in as on the 1432. This helps give the watch a slightly more vintage aesthetic, which is accentuated by the smaller size and, by extension, by the dial.

The watch’s dial is a flat black with matching black subdials. It features applied steel battonet indices that are incredibly classic, as are the faceted, lancet Alpha hour and minute hands. A more rounded, ovular date wheel sits at 4:30 on the dial, and the same printed name and logo feature at 12 o’clock. Though the dial lacks any applied numerals, the printed numerals at the outboard of the indices and on the subdials retain the Breguet font used on the BLR 1432.

Both the 1432 and the 1401 come on leather straps, both black and executed with a Hermès Tapisserie pattern. On the 1432, the strap’s stitching is red to match the seconds hand, where the stitching is tone-on-tone for the 1401. Both straps terminate in a polished steel pin buckle to match the case.

The Important Details
Balor’s Kickstarter campaign will officially launch in November of 2019. At the time of the campaign, the watches will sell for 299, and will jump to 399 after the campaign is funded as their actual MSRP.

Moreover, the brand’s Stretch Goal (which is to say – if they surpass their initial funding goal to a certain degree) is not only a new dial or case material for one of their existing models, but an entirely new watch altogether.

The Verdict
Having spent some time not only getting to know Balor in terms of their actual watches, but also their brand philosophy, I definitely appreciate where they’re coming from. There’s something so inherently alienating about feeling like a brand isn’t catering to you specifically, and are trying to artificially create a story for their brand that doesn’t connect with you. When you think about the classics, like the Speedmaster or the Submariner, these watches had very little of that inherent mythos at their start. Originally, they were just a capable, good looking watch. There aren’t many shots at that kind of blank slate between a consumer and their watch anymore to build that story from scratch.

The watches themselves are lovely, of course, and it’s no secret that I love the VK64 movement. Frankly, at 299, there’s a lot going for this watch (sapphire crystal, applied indices, as well as incredibly detailed dials and finishing on the hands). More than anything, though, I haven’t encountered many brands that are this invested in giving the consumer something truly special, both in product and in opportunity, at this price point. And perhaps that’s the thing I love most about the brand. Are the designs personally for me? Not inherently (though I do love that dial on the 1432), but that’s the beauty of the brand – I can judge their watches and whether I like them on their own merits, and not on any extraneous marketing or storytelling.

Connect With Balor
Website: balorwatches.com
Facebook: facebook.com/balorwatches
Instagram: instagram.com/balorwatches

MORE FROM THIS SERIES