Yesterday I picked out a bunch of my favourite watches from this years SIHH, however I left a couple out I thought I’d touch on in more depth. Last year Baume and Mercier released a new collection of watches based on designs from the 1950’s – the golden years of watch making. The Clifton range of watches was received better than Baume and Mercier had hoped, capitalising on the heritage of their brand with a number of handsome and affordable watches. This year at SIHH Baume and Mercier unveiled some additional models to the Clifton collection including a flying tourbillon (now the most expensive watch the brand offers) and, much to everyone’s delight, a chronograph.
There’s no denying that Baume and Mercier have had a rough few years trying to find their place amongst the onslaught of fantastic and more affordable German watches, however the Clifton was the collection to turn that around. Extending the Clifton Collection in 2014 can only tell us one thing, the 2013 launch must have been somewhat of a success, otherwise we’d be seeing a different direction from the brand.
The new automatic Clifton Chronograph will be available in three colour variations, all with a 43mm case and exhibition case back. Under the sapphire case back is a modified Valjoux 7750 movement – to what level I’m somewhat unsure. It does however make me think about the watch on my wrist and the price tag that comes with it. My IWC 3717 utilises the same base movement but comes at a far more premium price which makes me think that this is a pretty respectable offering from Baume and Mercier.
I’m not about to say Baume and Mercier modify their Valjoux movements more than IWC because I know IWC buy the movement in pieces and add their own in house components – in fact it’s fairly common knowledge that IWC make the most modifications to the 7750 movement over any other brand. That being said, the Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon launched this year features the same Valfleurier movement as the IWC Hand Wound Portuguese and with both brands under command from Richemont it does makes me wonder what other variations of movements they are sharing.
Perhaps at 43mm this watch is a tad on the big side, I know my IWC at 42mm deters some people, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to. This isn’t groundbreaking horology, but if you can’t justify saving for the IWC or Zenith Pilots I think at between $3,900 and $4,200 US (Australian RRP yet to be determined) the Clifton chronograph is a pretty competitive package for the man looking to buy his first significant Swiss watch.