In my previous review I already announced that a new watch was on it's way to me. As it is here now, it's time for a full description of my new watch. I am talking about the watch called Leviathan 02 from the company Biatec.
The Biatec company already was on my radar a few years ago but even though several models were interesting to me, the relatively high price of the models that I liked prevented me from pulling a trigger. And then I almost forgot about that company. But a few months ago I received an email with an offer for a very interesting watch which celebrates 30 years of peaceful split of Czechoslovakia into two independent states Czech republic and Slovakia. As this watch (or better say two watches - one with white and one with black dial) has a special meaning for the clients from those two countries, and I am not from there, I skipped it. Yet this email reminded me to check what Biatec offers now.
Since the Biatec company is well known only in Slovakia, Czech republic and some nearby countries, let me first give you some introduction of the Biatec company.
As said, Biatec is a brand from Slovakia, which was established in 2016. The founder and an owner is Mr. Peter Kožar, who started his business with a watch eshop. But he soon wanted to produce limited edition watches for his eshop so he offered his ideas to brands covered in his shop - but without success. After many efforts to push his "own" limited editions designs which were never released Mr. Kožar decided to create his own brand and used his designs for his own brand. Mr. Kožar was kind and he sent me his drawing of the watch which should have been a Steinhart Corsair but because of Stainhart rejection of an idea, that was the base for - now very important line in Biatec - Biatec Corsair.
The word “Biatec” (or “Biatex”) originates probably from the name of a king who started to appear on the old Celtic coins minted in the area of today’s Bratislava during the 1st century B.C. The name is also used to refer to the coin itself. In creating a Biatec logo, a combination of Slovak coat of arms and Celtic cross were used. For better understanding, here are the pictures of all three of them.
Today, Biatec creates designs inspired by the Slovak national heritage, as well as important symbols of Slovakia or the world's technological achievements of the past. The brand is dedicated to small series production of watches and various limited editions. From the very beginning the company uses only Swiss movements. Firstly, a very unusual choice was made and on majority of Biatec watches Eterna movements were used (Eterna 3901).That is why the prices of Biatec watches were quite high for a new and unknown brand from East Europe. At least that was my opinion at that time. But nevertheless, the company has grown, all released models were sold out quite fast, it seems that the region appreciated a new brand and a good quality of watches that were released.
Today all Biatec models use Selitta movements, mainly standard Selitta SW200, some models also use elabore version of the SW200. Therefore watches are today a bit cheaper than when with Eterna, but still the entire collection is placed in a price range 1400-1600 EUR. Which is still quite high for some microbrand from Slovakia in the eyes of an unbiased client who has no heritage relations from that region. Almost all watches have the same diameter of the case - 40mm. As far as I was able to find, the latest model Heritage which yet has to be released will be 38mm. None of the models are bigger than that. What is also interesting is the fact that all watches are assembled by local watchmakers from the Banska Bystrica city region, where also the company is settled..
So, while browsing the recent collection of Biatec, I was quite sure that nothing interesting could be found for me. Even though I liked what I saw, everything was expensive and too small. And then, BANG, I opened the Leviathan section. Three very nice diver watches, one black, one blue and one with a brownish dial were presented. And all on a magnificent bracelet! If your have read my reviews you know that I am not too enthusiastic about bracelets, I like other straps more. But the Leviathan bracelet was something different. I simply could not stop admiring it.
As a blue dial watches are my weakness, out of all three watches the blue version was the absolute winner. I had to check the details. One detail was particularly important - L2L size of almost 51mm ! 51mm on a 40mm diameter is huge. I already have a watch with similar proportions - Fortis Stratoliner, which is a 41mm case with 50mm lugs. OK, Fortis is a chronograph, but still I was quite sure that Leviathan would fit to my wrist well and I decided to go for it.
I browsed the web all over the place, but watch was mainly available only in web shops based in the Czech Republic or Slovakia. And even though it was that time of the year when everything was on sale, no shop offered any discount on Leviathan. What was even worse, no one had a blue version in stock. At the end I contacted Biatec directly and Mr. Kožar responded at once. He offered me three choices - either to wait for a blue version, which was promised to be assembled at the beginning of the new year, either to take some other standard color or - a very tempting offer - to take one of the two watches which were developed as an experiment. Below are pictures of both experimental watches. The first one is the basic black version with orange minute hand instead of standard one. The second one is a version with a light blue dial and again orange hand.
Those two watches are not unique, so just one of a kind, but nevertheless those two combinations were never officially released. So, no wonder that I was tempted. At first I removed black version as an option as this watch reminded me of some other watches. More complicated was the decision about the light blue dial. Too many colors (dark blue bezel, light blue dial, orange minute hand and a pointer on a second hand) compared to a very clean white/blue combination on the original blue version at the end resulted in my final decision to wait for an original blue version. So, if you like any of those two unofficial version and would like to have quite rare watch, than contact Mr. Kožar as models are not presented on the official web shop. But they are available for sale.
As the photo of the light blue version is taken on a rubber strap, you can also notice how different the watch's presence looks. While on the bracelet the lugs and end link seem to be a part of a case and therefore the watch looks bigger, rubber strap optically ends the case much sooner.
So, I ordered a standard blue version. Mr. Kožar kept his promise. On the very first day after the NewYear's holiday he contacted me that the blue version is available. I paid for the watch and two days later a very heavy package from Slovakia arrived.
Unpackaging revealed why the package was so heavy. Watch is packed in a really high quality heavy box. The certificate of authenticity attached is an "old school" type of document. Inside of the box a Biatec slogan "inspired by the past driven by the future". All in all very good and gives an impression that something very valuable is in front of you.
Of course I wanted to put the watch on my wrist ASAP. The bracelet is enormous! On my 19,4 cm wrist I had to remove four links and there was still a lot of space between the wrist and the bracelet. Check the next two photos. Removing the links is really easy. Just a standard screwdriver is the only tool you need. However there is one problem. Links are big - one link has 12mm. Bracelet has a butterfly clasp without micro regulation. So with just a basic set of links you can set the size of the bracelet within 12mm intervals. For me that was very unfortunate as with removing the fifth link the bracelet was just a bit too short and with the just four links removed, the watch was dancing on my wrist. Thank God, I read some reviews of the watch before the purchase and in one of them I noticed that half sized links also existed. So, I contacted Mr. Kožar again asking him if some shorter links were available. He again reacted at once! He apologized to me and explained that his colleague that prepared my watch forgot to include 3/4 sized spare links which are otherwise part of a standard package. The very next day I already received two additional links. Those two links measure 8,8mm. So, I removed two additional standard links and added two smaller ones which made my bracelet shorter by 6mm. Just right! See the last picture. Even though 2 shorter links gives you much wider flexibility, for the optimal flexibility three shorter links should have been added, as that would allow anyone to set the bracelet size with 3mm step. With just two additional links you have some missing steps so 0,6,9,12,18,21, etc,.
Otherwise, the bracelet is indeed very nice and attractive. Polished/brushed combination, links size, interlinks position, everything together works really well!
Now, let's have a closer look at the watch. The most unique thing in this watch are the lugs. Very long, massive. The bracelet (or the strap) is attached by the screw. Screw to screw distance is 46mm, and as said L2L is 51mm. This difference is in fact very important for the general impression of the watch and for the watch position in the wrist. As the end links on one side tighten close to the case and on the other side lines with the end of the lug, end links with lugs together look as extended part of the dial. Or vice versa - one might also see as if lugs are part of the bracelet and the bracelet is just glued to the case. So all together everything gives an impression that the watch and the bracelet are just one integrated piece. On strap this effect is not seen, strap kicks already on the screws a few millimeters before the lug ends.
The case itself also looks very dominant. Fully polished with high shine effect, no brushed parts here. Every fingerprint or dust is seen, so quite delicate. The total height of the watch is almost 14 mm, the shape of the case reminds me of a sauce pan with very straight walls. Bezel is only one mm wider than the case, so it does not stick out. Speaking of bezel. It is unidirectional with 120 clicks, so quite a standard approach. For my fingers, bezel teeth are too small. Together with the fact that the bezel is almost inline with the case makes the feeling of suboptimal grip. Fortunately the bezel is not too tight and with the fingers on the 2 o'clock and 8 o'clock rotation goes smoothly (which is not the case with 12/6 o'clock where end links don't allow you a stable grip). For the insert a sapphire glass is used. As you will see, white part of the bezel is luminus.
So the bezel looks attractive all day - during the day due to the nice glass look, during the night due to the very interesting light effect.
Crown is screwed in and of course the Biatec logo is engraved. As it is placed at 4 o'clock that visually reduces the case size. Due to long and thick lugs, manipulation with the crown is not optimal, for example lugs are disturbing the hand winding process.
The back plate reveals the origin of the name of the watch - Leviathan. Leviathan is a legendary sea monster, mentioned in the Old Testament. And this sea monster squeezes the company's logo over the main part of the back plate. The outer edge of the back plate is used for standard watch information - 300m WR, sapphire glass, Swiss movement, made in Slovakia, Biatec and slogan again...
Before I continue with the dial, I must point out that all stainless steel parts of the watch (and bracelet) are made of 316L stainless steel case with NanTec coating (Vickers Hardness of 600), what in theory means that this steel is 3x more scratch resistant than the standard 316L steel used in majority of the steel case watches. I made a strange experiment. As I have a lot of spare links, I decided to take a risk and try to make a scratch on one link. Just in case I tried to make a scratch on the inner side of the watch. I rubbed with a knife and a screwdriver quite hard and - no scratch at all! I also wear the watch consecutively for more than ten days and no desk diving or other micro scratches can be found. So for now, I can confirm that this NanTec coating seems to have an effect!
Now, let's have a closer look at the dial. Basic color is deep black, with a light sunburst effect. Silver applied index hours are relatively short, shield shaped. Not exactly my cup of tea, I am not a huge fan of thick, almost bullet type index marks. But in combination with 12 o'clock marking, which is in fact a company's logo, the index marks makes sense and functions better than the straight line index would. Silver edges are done very precisely, under the magnifying glass cuts one can't find any flaws. As the logo is part of the 12 o'clock index mark this also cleverly cleans the upper part of the dial, Having regular index mark and full logo below would be crowdy.
Inner chapter ring is raised to the glass bezel, which gives a very good 3D view. What is a bit redundant is the fact that every minute (including ones with hour indexes!) has its own small bullet mark even though it has a mark also on the chapter ring. In addition on chapter ring every minute is split to five additional sub indexes, which are almost unreadable without magnifying glass and have no real functional purpose. Sometimes less is more, I have the feeling that all together is a bit too much.
The part of the dial above 6 o'clock is standardly used for model names and some main features, in this case "Automatic, 300M/990ft". Then followed by the date window and below "Made in Slovakia". I like the font which was used for the Leviathan name and the fact that all text is written with small fonts. Therefore it is not aggressive. I would even use a bigger font for "Made in Slovakia", as this is in a way much more interesting fact than the automatic 300m information. All those minute bullets below the date window on the dial however take up the space which could be used for a bigger "Made in Slovakia" sign.
As index mark edges, the date window edges are again very clean, straight. Date is written with a clean, easy to read font, size of the date is adequate.
It seems that special attention was put into the hands' details. Hour and minute hands have similar design, where the hour hand has almost the same width on the bottom and on the top while minute is slightly thinner in the bottom. On the end of both hands one can again notice the shield's curved shape. So when the hour hand reaches the index, the index looks like some mirror reflection of the hour hand. What is interesting is that the minute hand goes exactly to the end of the index marking, so that the minute bullets are never covered. Second hand goes exactly to the beginning of the chapter ring and the small pointer circle on the second hand goes exactly below the index markings. So, someone took into consideration a lot of tiny details.
Above the dial, a flat sapphire crystal with AR coating is placed. I must admit that this AR coating is not noticeable as it should be, probably due to the deep blue color of the dial itself. Glass lies totally in line with the bezel, so fully flat.
As said in the introduction, Leviathan uses the Selitta SW200-1 movement. During the first week of the constant wearing, the watch very constantly ran with +8 sec/day. OK, but nothing spectacular.
Next photos try to show you how the watch looks and feels on my wrist. Even though my wrist size is 19,4 cm, only 40mm - as expected - sits very naturally on it. I dare to say that it would look even better on a bit of a bigger wrist. And I would for sure not recommend this watch to a much smaller wrist. 18,5 cm is by my opinion the smallest wrist that can wear this watch on a bracelet. For a smaller wrist I would suggest some strap instead of bracelet.
Even though the watch is a diver, I had no problem using it on a business suit.
Watch has a perfect luminova. Great touch is how the bezel is luminated. And also the luminus logo is something special, not seen often. All luminous parts are easy to read for a long time. I had no problem reading the time after 8 hours in total darkness. Great experience.
So, what can I say at the end? There are a lot of things that impress me on this watch, just very few that could be done better, but not in the sense of the quality but in the sense of my personal preferences. It's great that the watch is not just yet another copy or homage to some famous brand, but instead really brings some fresh ideas to the watch market. Materials used are very good, finalization is perfect. Movement is good but it could or should be better fine tuned (even though the +8sec is not bad). It is made in Europe and not in China. So the main questions here are obvious - is all this enough to justify a relatively high price which is in the range where already some known Swiss brands are located? Can this watch with this price compete with other, cheaper microbrands or even with some lower priced Swiss ones? Is the price the main reason that brand is mostly recognized only by the local market? Is there any need for the Biatec brand to expand its production and make a strong push? Does Mr.Kožar want this at all? Is he willing to invest in promotions on other markets, expanding the sales network? As I am quite sure that if prices would be cca. 30% lower, with this quality Biatec - at least with Leviathan - could be a serious player globally.