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I have never naturally headed for the obvious. I blindly pass by almost everything that shines or screams ostentatiously, drawn like a magnet to everything that whispers or only allows itself to be discovered after some time of getting acquainted.

Thus, the new Clifton Baumatic from Baume & Mercier fit me like a glove from the very beginning. Though one of the biggest steps taken by the Richemont Group in the field of horological technology, its aspect is so quiet and… decent, that some would unwittingly overlook it in their search for more visible pieces.

To briefly explain myself: until January 2018, the Richemont group had not yet turned to silicone technology for the components of the watches in its portfolio. That was the first surprising thing. The second – when the group finally decided to use silicone in a watch, that watch was not a Jaeger-LeCoultre, a Panerai or an IWC (which are recognized for technological prowess), but a Baume & Mercier. An honest, mainstream brand, worn by millions of people around the world, but perhaps not quite the first name that comes to mind when it comes to super innovations.

Leaving aside Richemont’s surprise or reasons to choose Baume & Mercier for the first silicone escapement in the history of the Group, the brand did a very good job. Excellent, really. Baume & Mercier delivered a watch with a highly competitive price (under EUR 3,000) and a very stylish look.

Well, perhaps too discreet, some would say. But not for those who love subtlety, like I do. It may be true that, at first, you don’t really notice the wow factor. It is a rather shy watch, a bit quiet at first wear, but it gradually “warms up” and starts revealing its qualities.

The 40mm steel case features slightly curved lugs, which somehow soften the serious design – maybe a bit too sober and cold.

The milky-white dial is highly readable, thanks to its silver indexes and very fine hands. Readability is not as good though in the evening or at night; on the other hand, had they used SuperLuminova, the watch would have lost its classic look. I know there have been voices who have spoken against the date; personally, I think it fits perfectly into the concept and the general appearance of the dial, giving it a retro-modern look. I like the rectangular shape of the date aperture, I also like the big numerals – I find they are in perfect harmony with the hour and minute hands, and also with the numbers that mark the seconds.

Clifton Baumatic offers excellent accuracy – it gains less than 2 seconds per day. Therefore, its modest appearance hides an excellent timing tool (the model is a COSC-certified chronometer).

In my opinion, it is a watch that will age beautifully: its design defies desuetude, it can be worn with any outfit, and the movement, thanks to the introduction of silicone, will need to be serviced much less frequently and it has better chances of a long life.

There is one thing I don’t like about Clifton Baumatic: Baume & Mercier advertises it as a masculine watch, while the model is undeniably a unisex one. Its 40mm diameter, as well as its elegant/minimalist design recommend it for both the ladies and the gentlemen. I have worn it with great pleasure and I did not see it – even for one moment – as a watch designed exclusively for men.

It is, unquestionably, the first milestone on a long and – hopefully – successful journey for Baume & Mercier. And here I am obviously referring to its technical features, which will certainly be improved and supplemented in time. But I also have in mind its ageless design – which makes me believe Baume & Mercier is about to build a nice target audience of young people, who aren’t looking for flashy or niche pieces.

 

Essential information

Brand • Baume & Mercier

Model • Clifton Baumatic

Case • steel

Movement • Baume & Mercier BM12-1975A, automatic

Functions • Date aperture, COSC-certified chronometer

Power reserve • 5 days

Antimagnetic resistance • up to 1,500 Gauss

Pros • Price, innovative movement

Cons • The design is maybe a bit too subtle

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