If you ask anyone in the watch industry to name a good, solid Swiss watch brand with keen design and affordable pricing generally in the under $8,000 range, you are likely to hear the name Baume & Mercier. While this brand is known, and has been known for more than a century and a half, for offering top-quality at value prices, it is also known – in the past few years – for complicated watches that go the distance. The new Clifton Perpetual Calendar watch is a prime example of Baume & Mercier’s relentless quest to push the envelope and demonstrate its savoir-faire.
For half a decade now, the brand has surprised us with specialty pieces that prove its watchmaking capabilities. Back in 2014, it unveiled the Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon – a near $60,000 watch created in a limited edition of 30 pieces. Then, last year it delighted us with the Clifton 1830 Five-Minute Repeater pocket watch – also a limited edition. Other specialties include the Clifton Manual 90 Hours Power Reserve and the Clifton Manual 8-Day Power Reserve. For each of these timepieces, the brand has elected to create these special complications in the Clifton collection, where the generous stepped case and bezel befits the caliber.
This year, the tradition continues with the stunning new Clifton Perpetual Calendar. Several important factors make this timepiece special. To begin with, it is a complicated watch that brings the brand’s existing complete and annual calendars to a new level – as the perpetual calendar tracks day, date (taking into account different lengths of the months), month, year, leap year and moon phases via a mechanical memory of 1,461 days (four years).
However, the 18-karat 5N rose gold watch not only complements existing timepieces in the Baume & Mercier line, but also it does so without pretense. The brand is fast to admit that the watch is powered by an automatic Vaucher 5401 base caliber that features a Dubois Depraz 5100 module on it for tracking the celestial factors such as moon phase and perpetual timing. Baume & Mercier designed and developed the concept in its Geneva headquarters, but assigned the technical movement making to the brands that do it best. The finishing and assembly is then completed in the brand’s Les Brenets (Jura Mountains) workshops.
The total transparency behind the watch makes it even more attractive, as the mechanics and aesthetics are top notch. The movement beats at 3 Hz (21,600 vph) and offers 48 hours of power reserve. The meticulous finishing of the component parts, including a very thin micro rotor that enables a case of 4.2 mm in thickness, is visible via a sapphire caseback.
The dial of the watch, which is slightly domed, is a fine silver opaline with an almost vintage appeal. It is harmoniously balanced with gold hour, minutes and seconds hands, markers and Arabic numerals. The four subdials display the month and leap year (12:00), the date (3:00), the moon phases and the subsidiary seconds dial (6:00), and the day of the week (9:00). The indications of month, date and day are displayed with blued hands. There is an outer minute track that adds a retro feel to the dial.
The watch, finished with a black alligator strap, is water resistant to 50 meters –but I am unsure who would take this beauty into the water. The Clifton Perpetual Calendar is the natural extension of the brand’s exceptional annual pieces. It retails for $xx, but is not yet in stores. In fact, the watch is part of the collection the brand will be showing at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2017 in Geneva.
In all of its unveilings, Baume & Mercier follows the creed set forth by its founders in1830, when the Baume brothers stipulated their business would be driven by a single desire: “accept only perfection, only manufacture watches of the highest quality.” The new watch fits the bill perfectly. It retails for $22,900.
CLIFTON PERPETUAL CALENDAR
- Manufacture Automatic (Dubois Depraz 5100, base Vaucher 5401)
- Bridges with “Cotes de Genève” decor. Circular-grained plate oscillating weight adorned with snailed decor
and Phi symbol.
- Blued steel screws.
- Jewels: 29
- Power reserve: 48 hours
- Frequency: 3Hz, 21’600 vph
- Thickness : 4,2 mmFUNCTIONS: Perpetual calendar (day, week, month, bissextile year, moon phase)CASE: Round
Diameter: 42 mm
Thickness: 11.2 mm
Polished & satin-finished 18K red gold Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
Sapphire case back secured with screwsDIAL: Domed opaline silver-colored
18K red gold Arabic numerals and indexes Gilt and blued steel handsSTRAP: Black alligator
- BUCKLE: 18K 5N rose gold pin buckleWATER-RESISTANCE: 5 ATM (approx. 50m)
Baume & Mercier will also be unveiling an all-new collection of affordable Classima watches – but that is another story—coming your way soon.