DeMotu R42 Baltic Bees Jet Team Limited Edition chronograph (Review)

Usually, when someone writes to me and offers to review their watch it is either some very cheap Chinese company that I refuse to review or some big company. But rarely I get very interesting watches to review and this one was very special as it had a connection with my country Latvia.

So I guess I will start with the company that makes the watch, and about the Baltic Bee Jet team, we will talk later. The company is called DeMotu, they are from Finland, Helsinki and their office is based at Malmi Airport. They are making watches for Pilots. The main people behind the company are also, or were involved in aircrafts and other aeronautical stuff. Valdemar Hirvelä who is the designer of DeMotu earned his wings servicing aircraft in the Finnish Air Force, where his main duty was to maintain the avionics and instrument systems of SAAB Drakens and BAE Hawks. Down the road, he joined R&D projects for the Swiss watch company TAG Heuer and the Finnish watch artisan, Sarpaneva. Sami Kontio, an accomplished Aerobatic Champion who formally became the first De Motu test pilot. Markku Lehti, CEO of the De Motu Watches Ltd. Mr. Lehti has his background in military and aviation world. As a deck officer of Finnish Navy and in a later career in commercial aviation, serving as a captain of MD-11 freighter, he has 25 years of experience as a user of military and civil instrumentation.

They have some great accomplishments. Mr Hirvelä built his own accelerometer unit and fit it inside a wristwatch: it was the world’s first g-measuring watch! Also, I need to mention that they make as many parts as they can in Finland. They design all the watch parts by themselves and using the high-quality subcontractors to manufacturing the parts for as. Even all the screws are their unique parts. They have suppliers from Finland, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Some special parts like Sapphire crystals come from outside Europe. In their factory at Helsinki-Malmi Airport, they finish the parts, assemble and test them.

So let’s talk more about the collaboration with the Baltic Bees jet team, as they are a pretty cool jet team, some say they are even better than the Breitling Jet Team ..haha. So The Baltic Bees Jet team was formed in 2008. Homebase of the team is Jūrmala Airport (EVJA), 60 km west of Riga, Latvia. First flights were flown in a two-ship formation. In the following years, two more jets were added to the team and a full aerobatic display program was created. From the very beginning, flight instructor and creator of the display program is the well known skilled aerobatic pilot Valery Sobolev. The program was developed in a very short period of time and Baltic Bees Jet team gained a reputation as a professional civilian aerobatic display team. Now they have six planes and I will be visiting one of their air shows this summer, from which I will make a couple of photos and write a little article.

The watch we are looking at today basically is the same DeMotu R42 polished steel version, but with different dial and hand colours, also the strap is different and of course, the price is a bit higher. This watch was given me for a review without the box, but from what I have been told and what I found on the forums it is nothing special, it doesn’t represent a watch that costs over 1000€. But the first impressions were good, I like the looks and everything, but the only thing that probably turns me off this watch is the price 1850€ which is by 460€ more than the regular R42 version. Also for me as a watch guy, it is hard to pay such big money for a quartz watch, but it is maybe me, I just love mechanical things more than battery driven. But the best option would be the package deal that Baltic Bees Jet team offers, which is basically a watch + flight in one of the planes.

The watch was lent to me by the Baltic Bees video guy Arturs for that I say thank you 🙂 so remember that this is a used example, so there will be a couple of scratches. First impressions were good, it has some weight to it and the machine work, finish and dial look pretty good and are worth the price you are paying. But the things that are bothering me the most is the big price for a quartz movement and not so known brand. I understand that the watch is hand built and all the parts are made in Europe, not Chin or everywhere else. But for me as a mechanical watch guy it is hard to understand, I know that there are quartz watches that cost 10 times more than this one, but there at least you get a brand with a lot of heritage. Of course, I don’t say that the watch isn’t worth buying, it still has a pretty cool story to tell and it looks pretty cool too.

The case is made of 316L stainless steel. The machine work is pretty good, I really like the lugs and the small ridges on the pushers. Just those small details make the watch different from many other timepieces that are out there. The whole case is polished except the case back where there is a matte finishing. The polishing work is done exceptionally and from what I read on the DeMotu webpage they finish them by hand, which is rarely seen in these microbrand watches. The case size is 42mm, the thickness is 11,8mm, from lug to lug it measures 52mm and the lug width is 22mm. The sizing of the watch is really good, I like how it looks, but the watch is too long from lug to lug, if it was a bit shorter it would look a bit better. The weight is 96 grams with the strap. On the right side of the case, we have the two pushers and a crown. The signed crown is a regular push/pull crown as this is a pilot’s watch and probably will never see water near it. Of course, the watch is water resistant to 100m (10ATM) which is more than enough to withstand a rain or some splashes, but I wouldn’t recommend swimming with it, especially when you also have two pushers. The crown is pretty easy to pull out and operate. The pushers are rectangular with ridges on them for more grip, but they also are a great design element. The pusher action is pretty good, you can still feel that the movement is quartz not a mechanical, they push pretty easily, not like on my Wancher pilots watch which has the Sea-Gull ST-19 mechanical chronograph calibre. On the left side you will find a gold colour plate with the limited edition number you have, we have the 6 of 100 ever made. The case back is held on with 8 small screws. In the middle, you will find again the Limited Edition number you have and also a couple of specifications like water resistance and other things. On top of the dial sits a sapphire glass with AR coating.

The dial is what makes this Limited Edition R42 special. Usually, it comes with a matte black dial and red accents. But this Baltic Bees Jet Team Limited Edition I think looks a ton better. The blue dial with yellow accents looks really stunning. The chapter ring with a white minute track and yellow accent at 12, the chapter ring is in matte blue. The dial itself is sunburst blue dial with a very deep blue colour. In some lights, it looks almost black and in some light, it looks light blue. The hour white hour markers are applied, the one at 12 is a triangle which is characteristic to classic Flieger watches. Under that triangle, you will also find a 12 marker which is also applied. Around the dial where the hour markers are you also will find a white minute track. The two subdials are pretty big and close together, also they are slightly higher than usual, you can find on chronographs. The subdial on the left is 30min counter with a yellow hand. The subdial on the right is small seconds. At 4 o’clock we have a white date window. At 6 we have the applied Baltic Bee’s Jet team logo and under the logo, we have a text “Baltic Bees Jet Team“. The text and everything is pretty crisp and easy to read. The hour and minute Squelette hands are black with white lume inside. The second’s hand is yellow and is just a regular stick shaped with a spear counterweight. Lume on the dial isn’t the brightest, but at least it holds up for about 2-3 hours. The lume is in blue colour, so it matches with the colour scheme of the watch. The hour, minute hands, the small seconds subdial, hour markers and minute track are lumed.

Now we come to the movement. Inside the R42 you will find a modified Ronda 5030 Swiss Quartz which is gold plated. I don’t know how they modify it, maybe it has some modules put on it or they maybe decorate it. The Rondas are pretty reliable any case and will last a lifetime. The battery life on these is usually 54 months, depends on how much you use the Chronograph function. The movement has 13 jewels which is a lot for a quartz movement, sometimes there is one, but mostly every quartz movement has none jewels.

The strap that comes with the watch is a Hirsch Performance strap. On top, you will have a blue sports leather that is scratch resistant and is pretty durable compared to the regular leather strap. The leather is also perforated so in the summer your hand won’t sweat. The lining material is premium caoutchouc that makes the strap super comfortable and super supple. I like that they chose one of the best strap makers for this watches strap.

Overall I like the watch, but I wouldn’t pay 1850€ for it or any quartz watch. I can get a Breitling Aerospace used for under 1500€ which is at least far more better know brand with quartz movement. But again you have to remember that DeMotu is hand assembling and finishing them in Helsinki (Finland) and all the parts come from Switzerland and other Europe countries only sapphire crystals come from outside Europe. So if you understand and appreciate the work behind this watch, then I suggest buying it. The only place where you can buy the watch is at Baltic Bees store, they aren’t selling them on the DeMotu webpage, so be aware of it.

Price: 1850€ @ balticbees-store.com

Case Size

42 mm

Thickness

11.8 mm

Weight

96 grams with Strap

Strap

22 mm Black Leather

Movement

Modified 5030 Swiss Quartz, gold plated

Jewels

13 jewels

Accuracy

± 0.3 seconds per day

Battery Life

54 months

Water Resistance

100 m / 330 ft

Limited Edition

100 pieces

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