Serious horological nerds have been singing the praises of Baume & Mercier for a while now. The Geneva manufacture is quite possibly the most technically accomplished in Richemont’s stable, something which was patently obvious from their release of the Clifton Manual 1830 last year. That watch was the first Richemont Group release to feature a silicon balance spring, and Baume are taking things a step further this year with its successor — the Clifton Baumatic.
Debuting at SIHH 2018, the Clifton Baumatic is, bar none, Richemont’s most mechanically advanced watch to date. Aesthetically, it’s dominated by an air of unpretentious simplicity, though once you get under the hood it’s obvious that Baume convinced their parent company to facilitate the creation of an impressive in-house calibre. What’s more, the BM12-1975A (as it’s technically known) is Baume’s first attempt at proprietary watchmaking. If that’s any indication of future performance, we’re likely to be seeing a whole lot more of the brand’s influence throughout other Richemont brands in future.
The Baumatic builds on much of the technical groundwork established by the Clifton Manual 1830. Like the latter, the current release features a silicon balance spring. It also incorporates another Richemont Group-wide first in the form of a silicon escapement. The widespread use of silicon enables the escapement to to be designed with a more optimal geometry, in turn making energy transference from the escape wheel to the balance more efficient. The corollary is a movement with a whopping 120-hour power reserve and approximately 25 times more resistance to magnetism than is required under industry standards. Better still, the new movement is COSC certified — a phenomenon that is virtually unheard of at this price point. (Admittedly, COSC probably didn’t test the Baumatic’s movement over the full duration of its power reserve, but the attainment of chronometer precision is impressive nonetheless.)
Retailing for just US$2,790, it’s undeniable that the Baumatic represents one of SIHH 2018’s best value-for-money propositions. The constraints of such a price tag are faintly detectable in the dial execution — generic fonts and an egregious allusion to the JLC Geophysic spring to mind — but those simply aren’t enough to offset the goodwill that results from what is otherwise a serious display of high performance watchmaking. In the real world (i.e. the one which haute horologists are all too eager to disassociate themselves from) thousands of dollars is a lot of money to pay for a contraption which is arguably less accurate than one’s smartphone. In this brave new digital age, Baume & Mercier ought to be commended for tackling that challenge head on; all while making a restrained and criminally affordable product in the process.
The Clifton Baumatic is priced at US$2,790. For more information, visit Baume & Mercier.