At SIHH 2018 Baume & Mercier debuted the new Clifton Baumatic collection of dress watches that feature a new, exclusive automatic movement known as the caliber BM12-1975A. “Baumatic” is actually the (cute) marketing name for the movement, which is being featured in the Clifton Baumatic collection as a start. Baume & Mercier was justifiably proud of the new Baumatic product launch and there is a lot to discuss about the new watches ranging from the simple and satisfying Clifton Baumatic M0A10298 (white dial) and M0A10399 (black dial) to the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 5 Days Chronometer M0A10436. For 2018 Baume & Mercier will also offer the Clifton Baumatic with the white dial on a matching steel bracelet in the M0A10400, and also in a two-tone steel and red gold-tone as the reference M0A10401.
Now, being that it is a mechanical watch, I can already hear the chatter of watch enthusiasts commenting about how mechanical watches should not be exposed to constant vibration and G powers no matter the specs. The effects of continuous and brief strong vibrations to mechanical motions continues to be debated on many forums and covered by many articles, a few of them by aBlogtoWatch, but it’s generally agreed upon that any strenuous physical activity is best performed together with your mechanical watch spectating in the sidelines. Fixing of mechanical watches through these kinds of activities could damage the self-winding mechanism along with causing premature wear the balance wheel.As a perfect testing ground I’d be riding a skillet, vibey V-twin Indian Scout Bobber, more than three days, to test all these premature wear concepts including the added advantage of it being shock resistant and rated to withstand 550 G, that is more than 10 times the shock exerted on a body during a fatal automobile accident. Together with those specs, I had been feeling pretty confident about the opinion withstanding the vibrations.The other mechanical machine I would be reviewing would be the above Indian Scout Bobber, a newly not-yet-released version, and I would be riding one for the next few times at arguably among the most coveted, covert, two-wheeled gatherings in the bike community. The Bobber was a great compliment to the Clifton Club watch because they both taken an edgier feel contrary to their counterparts in their respective collections, which, as the weekend progressed, shown to be a very free relationship with comparable road maps.
The implications of the Baumatic caliber BM12-1975A, as well as the relatively accessible price point of these nicely-made formal watches is the real story here. Baume & Mercier sometimes like to refer to the BM12-1975A as an “in-house movement,” but in reality it is an exclusive movement (“developed in-house”) produced for Baume & Mercier by the Richemont Group-owned Manufacture Horlogere ValFleurier (which we sometimes playfully refer to as “Richemont’s ETA”). The fact that Baume & Mercier now has a watch with a movement it can claim as exclusive isn’t really what is exciting here. What’s more exciting are the performance promises of the BM12-1975A, its size, and the new technical priorities that Richemont seems to have set for many of the movements it produces for its various watch brands.
All images by Ariel Adams
Baume & Mercier produced one of the best press kits we saw from all of SIHH 2018 for the Clifton Baumatic – designed to discuss the watch and BM12-1975A movement inside of the Clifton Baumatic 5 Days Chronometer. The kit isn’t perfect, but it does an admirable job of really discussing both the performance promises of the new automatic movement as well as some of the special technology inside the Baumatic that makes it different from “standard” base Swiss automatic movements.
When this was an invite only watch event, it would play out as like: Maximillian Busser and Friends would organize a private gathering in Lake Geneva with the top watch influencers to discuss the condition of the watch business, possess a “watch show” full of one-off collectibles, also, importantly, drink copious amounts of “hot” beer with a side of gloating to help wash down it. A Few of the invitees would be Andreas Strehler, Kari Voutilainen, Roger W. Smith, and Vianney Halter, as headliners. Last, Bamford Watch Department and Motorcity Watchworks would round out the modifiers section, bringing with them a collection of DLC coated, mil-spec sailors and custom modified watches, which were remarkably popular in recent years.Uber-geeky “watch races” will be held; Chronometre Classic (best timekeeping watch), Chronograph Drags (most accurate time cease), Chronograph Drags (Vintage Class) and the all too famous Redline Renegades Hurry (speediest VPH). The bonus round would be the Deep Dive Sprint (most water and pressure resistance). Completing the festivities would be a “watch series” and a tribute movie of the late George Daniels. Of course, Baume et Mercier are the title sponsor of the shindig with everyone riding in on Indian Motorcycles.
Richemont seems to have made an edict across its brands that mechanical movement performance is something it wants to focus on moving forward. At several of our SIHH meetings, we started to hear representatives talking about magnetism resistance, accuracy, and dependability over time from their “in-group made” movements. This would have Richemont catching up a bit to the Swatch Group, Rolex, Patek Philippe, and others who have been increasingly vocal over the last few years about the performance of all or at least some of their modern mechanical movements. While the Clifton Baumatic is not the only Richemont Group product for 2018 to talk about performance standards such as anti-magnetism and accuracy, it is the most affordable and thus, most ambitious of them all.
I really wanted to put on this watch after seeing it as it would have flawlessly looked the part on my wrist, driving the sunset-lit California shore’s HWY 101. “Unfortunately,” the very best I could do was that the Limited Edition Clifton Club Shelby Cobra 1964. Surprisingly, the larger watch felt better in my yummy wrists and the grip was quite comfy, which got me excited about the Burt Munro Tribute piece as it would feel much more or less the same. Despite its slightly bigger lug size, grip, and pushers, it was comparatively simple to slip beneath my riding gloves when gearing up, making me believe the Tribute piece could make it into the daily watch spinning. Again, I hear the chatter of watch fans… “a limited version mechanical watch at the daily rotation?” Talking of limited editions, this entire weekend has been full of classic, rare, and custom motorcycles, that were built in home garages, custom paths, and collectors’ warehouses. Among numerous names repeated over the course of the event would be RSD, Roland Sands Designs. Roland Sands is motorcycling’s equal to George Bamford from the watch world, but more badass and winning an AMA national championship. His drag race winning system of the weekend would be the “RSD Wasp,” a Yamaha MT-09/FZ-09 franken-street tracker. This bicycle construct would be something equal to carrying a Rolex 116610 Submariner Case and squeezing in the newer Calibre 3255, slapping some DLC on the instance, screwing on a display caseback, coating the palms in yellow stone, and yanking the dial off an Air-King, finished off by stringing it on a hand stitched, habit perforated, humanely treated, organically tanned young calfskin strap.
Personally, I’m very happy to see brands starting to take performance claims more seriously. Hell, I’m happy they are talking about performance at all. One has to understand some contextual things related to the mechanical watch industry that makes the discussion of performance a bit ironic to begin with. Mechanical watches are (for the most part) all pretty much obsolete. Watch lovers cringe at hearing such statements, but from many perspectives this is true. For example, even if a novel mechanical movement offers double the performance of an existing mechanical movement, even the new and fancy mechanical movement will in all likelihood still not perform as well as an electronic watch movement.
There are those who argue that trying to make a mechanical movement perform better is a Quixotic pursuit. Is that true? From certain perspectives it most certainly is, but it does not take into consideration that despite the fact mechanical watches are outdone by quartz movements in raw timing performance, enthusiasts still prefer mechanical over electronic watches most of the time. Thus, acknowledging the consumer demand power of mechanical luxury watches (and the demands of their consumer buyers), one begins to see the logic and business sense of working to make today’s new mechanical watches more exciting.
A deeper way of understanding the new focus on mechanical watch performance in relatively affordable watches is to see it as a hedge against the distraction power of vintage/older watches. For at least a decade now the watch collector universe has been largely fascinated by the world of vintage watches (from various angles). One of these points of focus is that both vintage and modern mechanical watches have similar movements. Even though there are stark performance differences between all manners of movements available over the years, your lay enthusiast consumer simply had no real tools to understand how a mechanical watch from today might perform differently from a similarly complicated mechanical watch from 40 years ago. Thus, consumers would/will often buy less-expensive vintage watches over their modern analogs because they don’t know or understand how their movements perform differently.
Watch brands whose businesses rely on consumers purchasing new products aren’t particularly happy with anything that distracts consumer buying intentions. One way of explaining the new focus on mechanical watch performance across “volume” models such as the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic is to see them as a hedge against consumers feeling that older (e.g. vintage) watches are “just as good.” By using key terms and tangible experiences (such as your watch coming into contact with something magnetic) watch brands today are attempting to give consumers more palpable reasons to invest in a brand new product because it has new technology that can help solve old problems. It is true that a degree of these “old problems are now solved” statements are marketing-based optimism. However, it is equally true that the use of modern materials (for the purposes of watchmaking) such as silicon are indeed helping to make legacy mechanical movements really feel their age. This is a trend that I will continue to explore and report on in the future.
Baume et Mercier will definitely continue their relationship with the addition of follow-up limited and special editions in the future alongside sponsoring more bike events and other sports. The Clifton Club watch is a great value proposition piece that may be the dual duty workhorse a lot of men and women are looking for. A number of the races within this Wheels and Waves California occasion were “run what you brung,” so the only thing holding back you was you. No red tape, no real inspections, only racing at it’s purest, and this is where I think that the Clifton Club really stands out. The opinion is not screaming “look at me and all of my pedigree and mechanical innovation and legacy and best of the and that,” it is only a great looking and working watch.One of the first things I heard on this trip was out of Fred Martel, President of Baume et Mercier, during our automobile ride from airport. The dialogue nicely summarized the occasion. Baume isn’t trying to be a specialist watchmaker or an competitive performance-driven brand which strives to beat the contest, but a brand that embraces life and its own achievements all while appreciating the ride.Well built and made for the weekend warrior, prices for your Clifton Club start at $1,950 for its stainless steel model, up to $2,250 for the bells and whistles, rubber strapped DLC version. The Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition is available for pre-sale with a cost of $3,750, restricted to 1967 pieces.
Let’s get back to the 2018 Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic, namely the “flagship” model that Baume & Mercier is pushing the most. That model is the COSC Chronometer certified version of the Baumatic which is the reference M0A10436. While this watch contains the same caliber BM12.1975A (aka BM12-1975A) as the other Baumatic watches, the movements in the M0A10436 are all COSC Chronometer certified. The dial also has “Chronometer” written on it, as well as a “crosshair” style motif on the dial (which is a legacy design element in some watches that generally suggests “precision”). No actual performance difference exists between the movements in the Chronometer and non-Chronometer version of the Baumatic as far as we know. Rather, the Chronometer models have had their movements sent to COSC for certification, which adds cost to the production, and is more about having the assurance of performance (as opposed to the mere promise of it). Baume & Mercier wanted to offer the Chronometer model as a mere $200 upgrade over the non-COSC Chronometer certified models for watch consumers who like the idea (or the crosshair dial).
If this was an invite only watch occasion, it’d perform as like: Maximillian Busser and Friends would arrange a personal gathering in Lake Geneva together with the best watch influencers to talk about the condition of the watch business, have a “watch show” full of one-off collectibles, and, importantly, drink copious amounts of “warm” beer with a side of gloating to help wash down it. Some of the invitees would be Andreas Strehler, Kari Voutilainen, Roger W. Smith, and Vianney Halter, as headliners. Richard Mille, De Bethune, Ressence, and HYT would signify some of the innovative watch businesses to pop up with all showcases. Last, Bamford Watch Department and Motorcity Watchworks would round out the modifiers segment, bringing with them a group of DLC coated, mil-spec sailors and custom modified watches, which have become remarkably common in recent years.Uber-geeky “watch races” will be held; Chronometre Classic (best timekeeping watch), Chronograph Drags (most precise time cease), Chronograph Drags (Vintage Class) and the all too famous Redline Renegades Race (speediest VPH). The bonus round are the Deep Dive Sprint (most water and pressure resistance). Completing the festivities are a “watch show” and a tribute video of the late George Daniels. Obviously, Baume et Mercier are the title sponsor of the shindig with everyone riding in around Indian Motorcycles.
Now let’s dive into the BM12.1975A movement, which makes a Baumatic… a Baumatic. To simplify the goals Baume & Mercier wanted to achieve in the movement, they articulated four simple terms; “anti-magnetism, autonomy, accuracy, and durability.” That means that the movements are designed to resist daily magnetic fields, require less regular winding, remain more accurate more often, and require less servicing. The top level performance promises of the Baumatic BM12.1975A are impressive. Relatively thin (for this much power reserve) the movement has 5 days of power reserve and operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph). I’m not clear on the precise movement thickness, but the Baumatic case is 10.3mm thick. That’s not super thin, but it wears in a slim manner and the movement is clearly not as thick as other 5 day automatics out there. Rich use of silicon parts is at the heart of most of the Baumatic’s performance promises. Baume & Mercier decided to use silicon for the movement’s hairspring, anchor, and escapement (escape wheel). The hairspring is actually pretty interesting and uses what Richemont calls “TWINSPIR technology.”
The McCall’s Annual Motorworks Revival functions to kick off the Monterey Car Week which sees thousands of motor enthusiasts gather annually for vintage automobile auctions and rushing in the famed Laguna Seca Raceway. What exactly makes these models unique? Still present beneath the sapphire crystal, clearly, is the tachymeter around the dial, and obviously there’s the cobra emblem forged directly into the seconds hand’s counterweight to remind you it means business. The small-seconds subdial on each of these pieces was outfitted with a number representative of motorists of this Shelby Cobra CSX2118: No. 15 (Dan Gurney), No. 50 (Ken Miles), No. 97 (Dave MacDonald), and No. 96 (Allen Grant), respectively. Along with this amount, each of the four pieces have been dressed in comparable aesthetics of the winning cars.No. 15 includes a hot-yellow spin on the tachymeter dial using a yellow-lined black alligator-leather strap and even the seconds hand is yellow for this particular model. Also, such as the No. 15, the No. 50 receives the ADLC-steel treatment that still retains a sporty edge. No. 97 also features a yellowish cobra seconds pairs and hand the watch using a slick black rubberized strap. No. 97 and 96 include the stainless steel casings using No. 96 getting the loudest of the straps, a vibrant yellow alligator leather strap with black lining and stitching. Just a little something for everybody’s tastes with these models.