One of the sleeper hits of this year’s SIHH might just come from an unexpected source. The new Clifton BaumaticTM from Baume & Mercier features a chronometer-certified proprietary movement, with a silicon hairspring and a comfortable 5-day power reserve. Soon to be available at a very competitive price, this could be the beginning of a whole new era for the brand. All the details below.
Since its launch in 2012, the Clifton has grown to become Baume & Mercier’s “all-rounder” collection. A step up from the entry-level Classsima range, it covers just about the entire scope of traditional (yet accessible) complications. Last year, for example, the brand introduced the attractive Baume & Mercier Clifton GMT Power Reserve, as well as the sporty Clifton Club series. In 2018, the brand is building on that foundation with the introduction of its first proprietary movement; the BaumaticTM BM12-1975A caliber.
According to Baume & Mercier, developing its own mechanical movement has been a goal the company has had for some time now but had not been able to execute on. Thanks to two key developments, namely manufacturing capacity at ValFleurier (the Richemont-owned movement manufacturer that primarily manufactures movements for Montblanc, Panerai, and Baume & Mercier), and the establishment of the Richemont Research & Innovation team within Microcity in 2017, the opportunity finally presented itself.
Editor’s note: we chose here to say “proprietary” instead of “in-house”, as the movement isn’t produced by Baume & Mercier – they don’t have a proper manufacture – but by the shared facilities of the Richemont Group, ValFleurier.
Working with these two partners, Baume & Mercier has developed a very decent proprietary automatic movement that offers a lot of bang for not much buck. It’s not revolutionary by any stretch, nor is there really anything here that we haven’t seen before, but it does provide an interesting window into the advances in modern watchmaking from a cost, quality and reliability point-of-view.
The project was broken down into four key areas of watch-making, with a focus on making substantial improvements in each area, whilst still maintaining a reasonable price point. Firstly, Baume & Mercier wanted to ensure the movement was antimagnetic. This was achieved by manufacturing the hairspring, the anchor and the escape wheel in the BaumaticTM BM12-1975A caliber from silicon, an antimagnetic material that is three times lighter than the ordinary alloys used for hairsprings. As a result, the new Clifton BaumaticTM is resistant to magnetic fields of at least 1,500 Gauss without residual effect.
Secondly, because accuracy is important when it comes to timekeeping, Baume & Mercier want to ensure that this model would satisfy the requirements to be certified as a chronometer by the COSC. The use of TWINSPIRTM technology, developed by the Richemont Research & Innovation teams, for the hairspring, along with a newly shaped variable-inertia balance wheel helped make that possible.
Thirdly, to maximise running time, the silicon hairspring is combined with a new high-performance escapement equipped with POWERSCAPETM technology, which according to the brand, increases efficiency and improves torque transmission between the components. Less effort required means less energy expended, which translates into a longer power reserve. Other contributing factors include an optimized barrel, as well as the use of the aforementioned TWINSPIRTM technology on the silicon hairspring. The end result is an impressive 120 hour / 5 day power reserve from a single barrel set-up.
The fourth, and final, area of focus was durability. Baume & Mercier wanted to create a movement that was more reliable and required servicing less often. This fell under the remit of the Richemont Research & Innovation teams, who are focused on developing dedicated oils so that moving parts stay better lubricated for longer, and devising new test procedures to assess long term performance under relevant stress conditions. As a result, Baume & Mercier has indicated that the service periods for the BaumaticTM BM12-1975A caliber will be “considerably longer than for standard watches.” The brand doesn’t say how much longer specifically, but for reference, it deems the current standard service period to be approximately every five years.
Presented in a polished and satin-finished steel case measuring a comfortable 40mm x 10.33mm thick, the new Clifton BaumaticTM 5 Days / Chronometer is a great-looking everyday watch. As seems to be a popular trend at the moment, its white sector dial has been sand-blasted and then lacquered to give it an enamel-like finish. Time is displayed centrally by lancet hands (hours, minutes, running seconds), with faceted and riveted indexes for the hours and Arabic numerals in five-minute intervals for the minutes. An enlarged date window at 3 o’clock completes the indications.
On the other side a sapphire caseback displays the self-winding calibre Baumatic BM12-1975A, which is nicely, although not particularly ornately, finished. Operating at a frequency of 28,800 v/ph, it features 21 jewels and offers a power reserve of 120 hours or five days. Unfortunately, there is no power reserve indicator on this model.
Presented on an easily interchangeable black square scale alligator strap with slate- grey stitching, the watch is rated water resistant to 50m and comes with a 2-year warranty. What will be most appealing, however, is the price. Set at just CHF 2,450, the new Baume & Mercier Clifton Clifton BaumaticTM 5 Days / Chronometer offers a very attractive package, as well as a strong base to build upon for future models. More information at www.baume-et-mercier.com.