Availability: September 2019
Case Diameter: 42 mm
Case Thickness: 12.1mm
Case Material: 18k red gold
Water Resistance: 50m
Unique Features: The fancy black alligator strap has quick-change springbars
Upshot: Here’s the thing. Most of Baume & Mercier’s stock-in-trade is solidly reliable and well-priced watches. Any guy with a few thousand dollars can get his hands on a stainless steel Clifton Club that looks great, wears great and keeps time great, too. It’s not supposed to be the brand that offers an insane number of complications in one inaccessible timepiece. But the new Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar, which is housed in a gold case, is changing that. At almost $25,000, it’s easily one of the most expensive timepieces this brand sells.
Who It’s For: Here’s the other thing. If you want a really stellar perpetual calendar in a gold case, you usually have to plonk down a whole lot more than $25,000. (By comparison, the new white gold A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual Calendar is going for a whopping $287,000.) So one could argue that the Clifton Baumatic Perpetual Calendar is a value buy — an easy way for guys whose means might be more senatorial than princely to buy their first perpetual Calendar.
First Impressions: At first glance, this watch looks like what it is: a stripped back and cleaned up version of a traditionally hard-to-get watch. Perpetual calendars have a tendency to look and feel visually heavy — which makes sense, given that they have to display the time, date, day of the week and month all at once. But this model is pared down in a way that’s undeniably modern. Another hint to modernity? The quick-change spring bars attached to the dial that allow pretty much anyone with working thumbs to put on a new strap.
Insight: Is this going to play well with an American audience? No. Are super serious collectors going to leave their Pateks and Audemars Piguets behind? Probably not. Will Frederique Constant still offer a version of this complicated watch for less money? Definitely. So what’s the point of a watch like this? To prove that Baume & Mercier’s manufacture is just as capable and sophisticated as any of its competitors — and, in some ways, more so. For an industry that sometimes feels like it’s playing one long inches game in front of a relatively small audience, Baume & Mercier has demonstrated that it is singularly committed to surprising us, while still satisfying the wants and needs of a wide swath of the watch-buying public.