Okay, we finally started getting news releases regarding watches that will be revealed during the upcoming SIHH 2014 event next January. Among them, is the new Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph collection of automatic timekeepers.
Although clearly not as imposing as the three-handers and full calendars in the same collection, the chronographs still have a point of interest of their own. While many currently available chronographs are often powered by Frankensteins (or rather chimeras) that feature normal three-hander movements with add-on modules from third-party manufacturers, this new model features a good old ETA Valjoux 7750 natural-born chronograph ebauche, which is not only more reliable, but is also less expensive to fix if anything goes wrong.
To better match its older siblings, the watch will be issued in the same slightly outsized body 43 millimeters in diameter. Even though oversized chronographs are still quite popular both among watchmakers and their clientele, I would like to state for the records that the choice of size seems neither warranted nor justified in this particular case.
While there is certainly a wide niche of “sporty” and “military” chronographs that are presented in deliberately large bodies, this specimen styled as a classic dress watch, which is supposed to be worn with a lot more formal attire that a combination of khaki pants and a surplus M65 jacket.
I understand the reason behind “to each their own” line of defense, but that logic could bring to the dangerous waters filled with people wearing Adidas clothing while driving their Bentley filled with Louis Vuitton bags and holding Vertu phones in their thick fingers decorated by massive college rings. Tread lightly!
Main elements of the timekeeper’s satin-finished silver dial, too, will match that of the original with the same elegant Arabic numerals, facetted hour and minute hands, and, um, flattened cone-shaped hour markers.
The main problem of this watch is, of course, a direct consequence of its main virtue. Coming without any mechanical modification, the movement dictates the same generic layout of the dial with the same small seconds indicator at 9 hours, date and day of week windows at 3 hours, as well as a 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters at 12 and 6 o’clock respectively. Although such a layout has its merits (it is really easy to read if you had any previous experience with a Valjoux 7750-based chrono), it also makes the watch look extremely, excruciatingly boring like, literally, millions of other chronographs with the same anonymous dial.
Frankly, I don’t know how Baume & Mercier could have saved the situation without raising the cost of the watch (it is expected to go on sale from $3900 for a version in steel and blued hands to slightly more expensive $4200 for a watch with rose gold hands, hour markers and numerals.)
Still, if you are not looking for a modest, unpretentious, rationally designed chronograph, this may be a very good choice. Just wait till April 2014 when the timepiece starts to arrive to B&M’s authorized dealers around the world.
Photos: Baume & Mercier
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 4/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph Automatic watch specification
Price: $3,900 to $4,200
Movement: Automatic, caliber ETA Valjoux 7750, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day of week, chronograph
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 43.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Dial: Satin-finished silver
Numerals: Arabic, rose gold or rhodiumed
Hour markers: Rose gold or rhodiumed
Hands: Rose gold or rhodiumed
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black or brown alligator leather strap or Stainless steel multi-link bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire