The SIHH 2017 has seen the debuts of an entirely new collection for Baume & Mercier, the Clifton Club, exploring new territories for the brand: sports watches. Indeed, this universe is at first rather far away from what the brand used to do for the last decade. Still, this Clifton Club is an interesting novelty. No marketing artifices about heritage, vintage-inspiration or an obscure past collection. This watch is just what it looks like; a nicely executed, well-designed, well-positioned (price and style) watch that makes us think it might be a relevant reaction to the actual market. Overview.
Baume & Mercier, to the exception of a few confidential collections (such as Cobra watches), has never been intensively active in the field of sports watches. The positioning of the brand is different, yet clearly defined. Baume & Mercier are “celebration watches“, gifts made to mark achievements in life, such as first successes, graduation, first employment or festive seasons. Never Baume & Mercier had the clear intention to reach to hardcore collectors, and this is not about to change, even with this new Clifton Club collection. On the other hand, the current collection of B&M is focused mainly classical and elegant watches, with a rather formal design. Whether we talk Classima, Clifton or Capeland, all are “dress-ish” timepieces and, obviously, there was some room for more casual pieces. Considering this and the present demand for more urban, active and sporty pieces, Baume had to react. And this reaction is named the Clifton Club.
For once, we have to give credits to a brand for NOT going into obscure “story telling” marketing gimmicks, with an unclear link to a past collection, with a strange or irrelevant partnership or with an inspiration taken in some unknown vintage collection dug up from the past. No, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club is just what it looks like, a modern sports-oriented watch (and not an uncompromising dive watch, which wouldn’t make sense at B&M) that looks good, wears nicely, is well-finished and well-priced. The Clifton Club has one goal; attract new clients to the brand, more active, younger and possibly buying for themselves instead of being a gift watch. This strategy, which has long been used by the brand, is both a strength and a danger, and considering the market, the reaction seems relevant.
What about the watch itself? Well, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club is a sporty / urban offer, based on the idea of a casual watch, not a tool watch. It means that it combines a rather large (42mm) steel case that remains perfectly wearable on a daily basis – great comfort and adaptability to smaller wrists, thanks to short and curved lugs and a quite slim profile, at 10.3mm – some luxurious details, such as the alternation of satined and polished surfaces or some riveted indexes, with sportier elements such as the 120-click unidirectional bezel, luminous hour indexes and hands, crown guards and coloured accents. Thus, don’t be surprised about the 100m water resistant, once again, you’re not looking at a dive watch, simply a watch that can be used for leisures and sports activities in general. In all objectivity, the mix between classical codes of the brand and this sporty attitude is well balanced.
In terms of construction quality, the Baume & Mercier is highly satisfying. The case feels clean and well adjusted, the bezel seems solid, with sharp clicks and the watch is secured to the wrist by a comfortable rubber strap of nice leather straps, with sailcloth texture and orange accents (a color that can be found on all versions). Some serious work which makes you feel you’re getting what you paid for. Compared to the competition (some Oris or Longines watches for instance), the quality is on par or slightly superior.
5 versions of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club will be available:
- Steel, black dial, orange accents, black leather strap with sailcloth texture and orange lining with folding buckle – 1,740 CHF
- Steel, white dial, orange accents, black leather strap with sailcloth texture and orange lining with folding buckle – 1,740 CHF
- Steel, black dial, orange accents, metallic bracelet with folding clasp – 1,880 CHF
- Steel, blue dial, orange accents, metallic bracelet with folding clasp – 1,880 CHF
- Black ADLC-coated steel, black dial, orange accents, black rubber strap with pin buckle – 2,000 CHF
The dial is available in black (steel on leather / steel on steel bracelet / ADLC-coated steel on rubber), white (steel on leather only) or blue (steel on steel bracelet only) and shows a nice stepped style. An inner flange circles the indexes and is painted in orange on the inner side, giving some more depth to the face of the watch. The hands are large, legible and luminous and the date is rather discreetly integrated at 3, with a disc matching the color of the dial. The originality is brought by th arrow-style second hand coated in orange. The bezel, depending on the versions, is sandblasted steel or sandblasted ADLC coated steel (for the black insets), with engraved 60-minute scale.
Inside the case and under a plain caseback with engravings is a reliable, well-known, easily serviceable movement, the Sellita SW200 – ETA-clone with 4Hz frequency, 48 hours power reserve, quick date and stop seconds. Again, nothing fancy or overrated but just a good automatic movement that will perfectly do the job on a daily basis.
Once again, this new Baume & Mercier Clifton Club must not be regarded with hardcore watch collector’s eyes. It doesn’t target such groups. Instead, what has to be seen is a nicely executed watch, with modern and casual look, and good value for money. It feels like an appropriate reaction to a difficult market, to the growing demand for sports watch and to the lack of such offer in Baume & Mercier’s collection. This Clifton Club is not going to break the ceiling but we have to agree on the coherence of the package. baume-et-mercier.com.
Specifications of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club
- Case: 42mm diameter x 10.3mm height – stainless steel or ADLC-coated stainless steel, brushed and satined surfaces – sapphire crystal on the front, steel back – 100m water resistance
- Movement: Sellita SW200 – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 48h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds and date
- Strap / bracelet: steel bracelet or leather strap with sailcloth texture or rubber strap