Tsao Baltimore entered the market a few years ago with their Founder’s Edition dress watch, which was frankly a bit thick for my liking. They’ve followed with a number of solid designs, all ostensibly inspired by their hometown or a landmark there. While some of their designs are familiar, since their last model (the Constellation Chronograph, a mecaquartz chrono named after the famous boat harbored in Baltimore) they’ve come fully into their own.
The Tsao Baltimore Legacy is proof positive of that. Offered as a dual-crown watch with either GMT functionality or three hands and an internal 12-hour bezel (as reviewed here), the Legacy borrows the Constellation’s case and ups the ante with some exciting new elements. It is, I dare say, their best watch yet.
On the Wrist
The dial is the star on the Tsao Baltimore Legacy, but note how the vibrant fumé shifts to a rich forest green depending on the light. It’s that very color shift and variety that makes the watch such a pleasure on the wrist. You may get the full fumé effect, the deep green, or somewhere in between. The depth created by the sandwich dial is just an added bonus.
While secondary to the dial, I’m keen on the chamfer that traverses the edge of the case on either side. Most important in the case design is the short and sharply angled lugs. Look above: on cases such as this (somewhat tall, tonneau) it’s helpful to have a lug drop-off that lets the watch flow right onto the wrist. Check out the slope on that endlink!
The Y-link bracelet wears comfortably and despite the precipitous lugs, the lug box allows for most straps–NATO or otherwise. Even on a strap, the lugs are helping to ensure a smooth transition and comfort on the wrist.
The Tsao Baltimore Legacy is not just offered in this beautiful green, but also in purple, grey, or blue. All the options are seemingly as vivid as the green herein and I don’t think you can go wrong. The purple is a special nod to the hometown football team, The Ravens. I know I have the green one for review, but purple is such a hard color to do right, and I think the brushing and fumé finish allow what might otherwise be too much to work incredibly well.
Isn’t it a nice touch that the brushing on the hands echoes the dial brushing? And I was just expressing my desire for a sandwich dial with somewhat soft edges on the cutouts, and here we are. Look how they aren’t harsh edges, but have a roundness to the corners and the sides. Paired with the beveled date window that nestles against the abbreviated hour marker, its a great look. And isn’t there something near-perfect to the symmetry of two long words on a dial: BALTIMORE|MARYLAND?
Is it me or is the kerning a bit wide on “AUTOMATIC”?
You don’t need me to tell you the lume is good here, but luming the triangle on the rotating inner bezel was such a great decision. And forget what I just said, I have to tell you: the lume is good, and it’s good because despite three different layers and sizes of lume plots (hands, sandwich dial, bezel), they all shine plenty bright.
Case and Bracelet
My favorite part about the case is the widening of the chamfer at the sharp lug angle. Something about that just works. Also notice the different texturing on the crowns for tactile distinction (the top adjusts the bezel, the bottom works the date and time). The lines on the undercut of the profile carry on a design element that’s been present on every Tsao Baltimore watch since the company’s inception.
The endlinks are so perfectly matched with the lugs as to seem cut from the same block as the case. The fact that they slide in and out with such ease–thanks to quick-release spring bars–only accentuates this. Again, I’ll point out that delicious chamfer, and for a first time, the polished edge around bezel. Crisp like a just-opened bag of Doritos (please don’t eat the watch).
The Y-link bracelet offers a microbrand alternative to the Vacheron Constantin Y-link (which conveys the the brand’s Maltese cross logo). It’s a great design that seems to add some extra mobility to the links and thus some added comfort. The links use a pin-and-collar system, which is a bit of a coin flip: it’s the most secure method but also the most annoying to size. The ratcheting clasp is not new–it’s the go to for microbrands. But for many watches, it doesn’t work because the links it accompanies aren’t thick enough to accommodate it. Not the case here, making the Tsao Baltimore Legacy one of the few watches I’ve encountered with this clasp that didn’t make me balk.
A Word on the Movement…
We don’t often talk about movements here at The Watch Clicker. The fact is, under a certain price point most brands use one of a handful of movements with little to no modification aside from, say, a custom rotor. Other sites are dedicated to the specifics, so there’s not need to really delve.
But Tsao Baltimore has partnered with a new, local movement provider for the Legacy. They’ve sourced the movement from Maryland Watch Works, which assembles and regulates its MD-1 automatic movement in house in Hagerstown, MD. The movement is a clone of the ETA 2824 and is comparable in size, accuracy, and reliability. For the Legacy, it will be regulated to -/+ 8 seconds per day. And yes, it does have a custom rotor (in this case, both the movement and rotor will be blacked out).
Even if you aren’t familiar with Tsao Baltimore, the Legacy should be more than enough to convince you that they’re serious about their watches. The Legacy is appropriately if presumptuously named: it at once declares that they are here to stay and that they plan to leave something permanent. The Tsao Baltimore Legacy is a watch that engages the wearer not only in it’s comfort but with its spectacular fumé sandwich dial–and being from my home state (and my mom’s hometown) makes it a bit special for me.
Taking into account the bronze option, the GMT option, and the four dial colors, you’re left with 16 different Legacy models to choose from. 75 each of the 3-handers and 25 each of the GMTs will be available, with priority given to those who sign up for the wait list for the preorder, which is open now and will allow you to access preorder pricing.
Check out more tool watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Tsao Baltimore website
Tsao Baltimore Legacy Specs
Maryland Watchworks MD-1