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Baume & Mercier Clifton 1830
The nature of my occupation is that everyday I get to touch and see incredible timepieces and lose my heart to a watch with a stratospheric price. I have sometimes caught myself being blasé about a watch costing six or seven figures.
Luxury brands invite me to see their latest collections. Business class flights, chauffeur driven limousines, palatial hotel suites, haute cuisine and fine wines are all used to dazzle and seduce the naive watch journalist.
The schmoozing is plentiful, but warily received. “What does the brand expect in return?” At first it beguiles. The statuesque beauties representing the watch brands, flirt and flatter this middle-aged man. However, whilst my girth has expanded and my tastes have become increasingly refined, I am never tempted to write about something I don’t like.
There is an opportunity cost, too great, to waste time writing about the tawdry. I restrict my key-tapping activities to describing those products that have merit. This does not mean I necessarily approve of every aspect of a watch or prestigious car, but on balance the featured item has to have virtue and be worthy of discussion.
I was once asked if I could write about a particular brand of watches for another website. However, I declined the assignment and fee, because I had no empathy with the product.
I recently explained that I find it difficult to fake my affection for something. I write from the heart. One exposition of my motives and my ability to write about merely products I love is that it is difficult to feign enjoyment. My candid reasoning was, “I am a man, I can’t fake orgasms”.
Frequent social events, press trips and numerous glossy brochures bestow beauty, luxury and extravagance in abundance.
The peril of writing about luxury is that you can become foolishly detached from the reality of normal life. Thankfully, on returning to my native Lancashire, I have my family to remind me of my working-class origins and my penchant for eating meat pies.
There is a wholesome quality to living “up north” with my kith and kin. This is where I find realism and wholesomeness. It is in Lancashire, that I refuel my depleted cells with family values.
The reason for my protracted preamble is that sometimes a product stands out for its simple elegance. It makes no pretentious faux gestures. It merely confers good taste and an easy going character. A perfect example of this is a new model from Baume & Mercier, the Clifton 1830.
I have long been a fan of this historical brand from Geneva. It can trace its origins back to 1830. They offer handsome, unassuming timepieces devoid of outré details and with relatively accessible pricing.
A silver opaline dial pays homage to the classical timepieces of yesteryear. Gold coloured applied numerals and batons mark the hours. Arabic numerals are used for even numbered hours and arrow-tipped batons denote the odd numbered integers in between.
Golden lancine-shaped hands, elegantly convey the hours and minutes. Graceful in line, they enunciate time with brilliant clarity.
A chapter ring frames the dial, using simple black marks to indicate minutes. Blue Arabic numerals, marked off in intervals of five, provide a judicious use of colour.
Subsidiary seconds are presented on a subdial at 6 o’clock. A svelte blued hand, imparts seconds with comely charm.
Baume & Mercier have drawn inspiration from timepieces of the 1950’s. However, the smaller case diameters favoured in this bygone era have been set aside. This watch has a case diameter of 42 mm, which suits the wants of the modern day wearer.
The side view of the watch reveals a shallow case height and a retro-look domed sapphire crystal. Its Chevée shape is faithful to the acrylic watch glasses of the past, but without their intrinsic fragility. Purists may lament the absence of an acrylic glass, but, I prefer the practical, robust character of sapphire crystal.
The bezel is highly polished and this finish is repeated on the upper surfaces of the case and horns. The caseband and vertical flanks of the lugs feature a satin brushed finish, which softens the character of the watch and prevents it being sickly, like the crass confections worn by nouveau riche footballers.
The caseback repeats the highly polished finish, with a large sapphire crystal located centre stage. Baume & Mercier have made the movement the focal point of the watch by allowing the wearer to see every nuance of its finely finished form.
A phi symbol appears on the crown. The company has made the logo it’s own since 1964.
The horns are sympathetic to the round case shape, drawing the strap close to the caseband in affectionate embrace.
All aspects are neat, precise and delightfully distilled.
Baume & Mercier have procured a fine manual-wind movement from La Joux-Perret Manufacture. The specialist supplier of movements is based in La Chaux-de-Fonds and have provided exemplary movements to Baume & Mercier beforehand.
The absence of a rotor affords an unobstructed view of the finely decorated movement. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif. Close examination of the main plate reveals pleasing perlage. Screws are blued-steel reinforcing the quality feel of the watch.
Twin barrels harness copious amounts of energy helping the watch deliver its impressive power reserve of 90 hours.
Whilst I prefer watches with an in-house movement, this would probably have increased the price point. In truth, this is a magnificent movement. I use the word truth, because there is an honesty to this watch. It does not pretend to be the most extravagant expression of horology. It is designed to appeal to those who seek discreet and tasteful consumption.
A few years ago, the political spin doctors and strategists in the UK conceived the political strap line, “Family Values”. With hindsight this was an error of judgement, as any social transgression by a politician would be subsequently met with a feeding frenzy by the rabid media in waiting.
Baume & Mercier have named this latest model after a city in Passaic County, New Jersey. This is a region, the Genevan brand has a predilection for, naming the Hampton after an adjacent area. Promotional material portrays an idealised North American family life.
I think, there is a decency and propriety to this watch. It eschews diamonds and other tokens of conspicuous consumption. The Baume & Mercier Clifton 1830 does not pretend to be anything other than a handsome timepiece bearing the name of a Swiss company with a respected heritage. This watch is from a good family and a worthy suitor for your wrist.
- Model: Baume & Mercier Clifton 1830
- Reference:MOA 10060
- Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 42.00 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds.
- Movement: La Joux-Perret Manufacture ref. 7381, manual-wind; frequency 21,600vph (3Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve 90 hours.
- Strap: Leather strap with 18-carat red gold pin buckle.