We strongly believe in microbrands. Not just for the value they represent (frequently, they’re more affordable than big Swiss brands sold in boutiques), and not just for the romantic notion of the entrepreneur, but because they have greater creativity, and are willing to try things that are off the beaten path. One of those is Esoteric, with the ESO Bathayal.

The ESO Bathayal is a big watch. It’s a big square watch that feels like it took a lot of inspiration from the 1970s. The problems with a lot of 1970s watches, is that while they had interesting shapes, a lot of them were very small, and not very well made. They’d use rattley loose bracelets made of folded metal, and you might get a stainless steel case back for a “base metal” watch case.

ESO fixes all that. The case has been upsized to a modern 44mm, that’s 14mm thick. Because it’s mostly square, the lug to lug distance is a very reasonable 48mm.

The crystal is sapphire, as you’d expect from a watch where every choice was made in favor of quality. Inevitably, making a product requires hard choices and compromise. The goal is to make as few of them as possible. Here, it’s hard to see where there was one.

The bracelet on the example I borrowed is DLC coated like the case, and they’ve done a good job of coating between the links, one of the hardest things to get right. It’s worth noting that the specific example we have is a prototype, and the end link fitment is still being adjusted at the factory.

The dial is definitely in that 1970s vibe and really ties the room together, as it were. The lume plots are funky yellow teardrop shapes. They’re cut out and the lume appears behind them, sandwich-dial style. The Bathal script is a very funky cursive, written in red. It’s a nice detail, and I like it.

The Bezel is a chunky 120 click thing with fully lumed paint. Instead of a bezel insert, it looks as if it’s just one machined solid piece. Again, everything about this is optimized for doing the best for the customer.

ESO has made a run of these watches in a few different colorways – there’s steel with blue dial, steel with black dial, steel with green gradient dial, and the black DLC example we wore here. Only the black variant has the fully lumed bezel, the rest lume the triangle at 12. Whichever you choose, you won’t go wrong, and we applaud one more brave person for trying something different. The Esoteric Bathayal Oscuro (black DLC) is $799 $599 currently at esotericwatches.com.

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Esoteric Bathayal Oscuro
  • Price: $799
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a super 70’s piece of awesome on your wrist, with all the quality 2020 manufacturing can deliver
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: It’s personally a little square for my tastes, but the dial is so… tasty. It’s a very good dial.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: It’s really difficult – every one of these choices is very well thought-through
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The sandwich dial and color combinations are very good.

Tech Specs from Esoteric

  • Case size: 44mm, 48 lug to lug
  • Height: 14mm
  • Case material: stainless steel
  • Crystal: sapphire
  • Strap: stainless steel
  • Movement: miyota 9015

Categorized in:


Last Update: April 1, 2020