Balor is a watch brand based in Switzerland that offers two models with Seiko VK64 hybrid movements. They are designed to resemble classic chronographs from much more expensive manufactures. The model I was sent to review (the Manifesto BLR1401) is one of the two models the company offers. Balor states it wants its pieces to be judged strictly on merit and without bias, so that is exactly what I will be doing.
This is a beautiful watch. The cut of the indices is almost jewel-like in their appearance. I like the decision to not have a running seconds hand. The dial benefits from the stillness created by the absence. The white borders of the registers, as well as the minute track around the outside, really stand out against the blackness of the dial. The numbers are easy to see, and the printing is crisp.
The stainless-steel case is light and comfortable. I felt I was wearing something delicate when it was on, but I wasn’t afraid something would happen to it. It was light, but perfect for the fashion I was wearing it in; a Thanksgiving dinner with the family. The pushers are easy to operate giving a crisp ‘click’ when they are pressed. I love the sweep of the hand when the chronograph is engaged. It’s as smooth as expected and its flyback to position when reset is just as satisfying.
For $300, this is a beautiful option as a dress chronograph…if you can see it.
I’ll admit, I wear glasses. My vision isn’t the best in the world. In fact, I try to not drive at night because of it. To be fair, I gave this watch to my other half and asked her what time it was. She couldn’t tell for several seconds. And was then wrong. In sunlight, I could not tell where the hands were at first glance. I brought the watch inside to see if maybe it was just too bright outside, and no, still couldn’t tell immediately what time it was. The hands are polished very well, but with no bevel. I can’t see what time it is without first doing something acrobatic with my wrist, or head, or entire upper body in unison to get an angle just-so to see the glints of light hit off those jewel-like indices to determine what the hands are actually pointing at.
To demonstrate what visibility is like, here are photos from the company’s website of the dial. If you didn’t already know that watches are set to 10:10 in photos so as much of the dial can be seen, would you be able to tell the time? The hour and minute hands seem to disappear, and these are CLOSEUPS of the dial. The hands used for the registers are not any better, but they are not as important to the functionality of the watch. The chronograph complication is my favorite complication, but it comes secondary to being able to tell the time.
I don’t care about the piece looking like another watch. I don’t care about it being quartz. I don’t care that it is a microbrand. I care about the watch beautifully telling me the time. This becomes more of a trinket than a functional device for time-telling. $300 is a lot of money for costume jewelry.
If you want to check out the two watches launching soon you can go to the website www.balorwatches.com and the Indiegogo goes live on the 15th January
Sanford has been a watch lover all his life, but just recently got into the hobby deeply after making some lifestyle changes. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, he offers a perspective of a seasoned rookie – not knowing much, eager to learn, with a keen eye for dumb shit. His writings focus on news in the watch industry, model reviews, and the occasional op-ed sprinkled with a movie quote or two. Be sure to check for his upcoming series’ as well as his assessments of watch trends. Feel free to reach out to him on Instagram!
You can find Sanford at @quest327