Last month, we wrote about an unexpected new timepiece from an unexpected source: the Clifton Baumatic from Baume & Mercier. Officially unveiled at SIHH 2018, we had the chance to spend some time getting hands-on with this all-rounder/dress watch and were quite impressed with what we found. The big news was, of course, the introduction of the brand’s first proprietary movement, coupled with a very accessible price. Upon closer inspection, however, we discovered there was a lot more to like.
Over the last five years or so, in-house and proprietary movements have become very “en vogue”. Whether that translates into better quality is probably still up for debate. More often than not, an in-house movement is indicative of higher pricing, which seems logical. Building a vertically-integrated manufacture capable of creating in-house movements from scratch is an expensive undertaking and those costs need to be recovered somehow. Right?
Apparently not always, at least not according to Baume & Mercier. The company’s new Baumatic BM12-1975A caliber, which was developed in conjunction with the Richemont Research & Innovation team and manufactured by ValFleurier (the Richemont-owned movement manufacturer that primarily manufactures movements for Montblanc, Panerai, Cartier and Baume & Mercier) features some pretty impressive technical developments but costs less than many comparable models from other brands with third-party movements. You can read more about the technical details in our original article here.
Sure, Baume & Mercier is able to leverage the manufacturing might of the Richemont Group to achieve this impressive feat, but keep in mind there are three other major luxury conglomerates present in the luxury watch industry who all have varying degrees of manufacturing capacity. The new Baumatic BM12-1975A calibre, with its silicon escapement, impressive 5-day power reserve and long service periods, could be an interesting indicator of what we might expect from other brands in the not-too-distant future.
Putting the movement aside for a moment though, what about the actual watch itself? Often times, especially at the lower-end of the market, we see compromises made on designs and finishing in order to keep the costs in-line with pricing. While it’s true the movement is not finished in a particularly sensational or ornate fashion, it still is a reasonably nice-looking movement, visible through a sapphire caseback (another element that is normally eliminated to keep costs down).
Likewise, the 40mm round steel case is nicely shaped, thinner and more elegant than previous iterations of the Clifton and wears comfortably on the wrist. At 10.3mm it’s certainly not an ultra-thin watch, but as an everyday model that can also double up as a dress watch, it’s a pretty acceptable compromise. The polished and satin-finishing on the case has been done very well and makes it quite eye-catching on the wrist, despite its relatively simple design.
As seems to be the trend this year, the white dial has been sand-blasted and then lacquered to give it an enamel-like finish. It’s fairly plain, as far as dials go, with hours, minutes and seconds displayed centrally and the date indicated via an aperture at 3 o’clock. The crosshair was a bit of an unusual touch for me as this watch doesn’t really have any military influence, but in the flesh, it works quite well, providing a bit more flavour to the relatively subdued dial. Plus, I could imagine an officer wearing a watch like this; practical, reliable but with just a touch of flair to signify his rank.
Admittedly, I would have preferred not to see the word “BAUMATIC” printed across the bottom half of the dial, although I can understand the reasons for doing so. Personally, I think it would have made more sense to engrave this on the case back. I know others have reacted quite strongly to this as well. I wouldn’t say it’s a deal-breaker for me, but it does cheapen the classic display slightly.
Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, there will be a full Clifton collection of Baumatic-equipped timepieces coming to market in a few months, offering different dial variations. These movements won’t have the COSC certification, so you can expect pricing to be even more accessible, but they will still offer the same technical advances. Given the initial positive response to the Clifton Baumatic, I imagine this new range will be quite popular too.
Presented on a leather strap and priced at just CHF 2,450, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 5 Days/Chronometer offers exceptional value for money, plus it also happens to be a really nice-looking watch. More information at www.baume-et-mercier.com.