In the end, watch fairs can sometimes be remembered for the sleeper hits. Sure, ‘fairs’ aren’t currently really a thing, but the global chaos didn’t stop Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) from rallying and creating a fully digital version of Watches & Wonders.
Which we promptly translated into a TV show, because we wanted to give you the option to watch fair and chill, if trawling a website sounded too much like work. The best thing about this, was when the FHH then linked to our show from their fully digital version. The circle was complete.
We digress. The bottom line was that a plethora of brand shiny new releases, even in digital form, was like finding H20 in the middle of the Mojave. And while many were fawning over JLC and IWC’s new releases (that Portugieser 42 QP … oof), there was one watch unveiled that instantly spoke to us as the under-the-radar star of the show.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-Date and Moon-Phase Automatic in steel – the sleeper hit of W&W 2020.
Baume & Mercier’s standard three-hander Clifton Baumatic is already a deeply admirable watch, especially for the price point. With this new iteration, however, the Les Bois firm has well and truly stepped it up a notch, staking their claim as a serious competitor in the world of horology. My, oh my, there have been some changes compared to the time and date device, though.
Chief among these is the stainless steel case, which is, well … bigger. Yes, while still retaining the familiarly rounded shape of the rest of the collection, this model has swelled in size to 42mm across and 13.2mm thick (up from 40mm and 11.1mm thick in the regular Clifton Baumatic.)
That does slightly worry us, seeing as one of the most attractive attributes of the Baumatic Ref.10467 and Baumatic Ref.10436 is their highly versatile size, which provides a great amount of bandwidth. Ultimately, we’ll have to defer judgment on how this new complicated Clifton Baumatic fares with its enlarged proportions until we can get HANDS-ON with one, but hopefully B&M have retained easy wearability.
Mind you, the added girth of the case has a purpose – to house the all-new, in-house Calibre BAUMATIC BM14 1975 AC2. Mouthful of a name aside, this is a deeply impressive movement, especially considering the watch’s RRP. Features include a silicon hairspring, gargantuan five days of power reserve, 21 jewels, an operating frequency of 28,800 vph and, rather obviously, a day-date and moonphase complication. The movement has also been nicely decorated, with the open-worked oscillating weight finished with classic Côtes de Genève and snailed decors, as well as a Baume & Mercier engraving. And wearers will also be able to admire the mechanical show, as the Clifton Baumatic has been sandwiched with sapphire crystal.
Rather obviously, though, the real reason why this watch has earned its “sleeper hit” accolade is its dial. It is simply stunning. The granular, gradient grey lacquered base features a beautiful dégradé effect, which sees the dial’s light centre transition to a darker, almost gunmetal grey around its edges. The rhodium-plated indices and handset are handsome, sharp and unassuming, as is the simple white minute track. The day indicator, located at 12 o’clock, appears to be simplistic and legible, while the date and moonphase aperture, located at 6 o’clock, adds a welcome layer of visual complexity. Add all these features together and you see the genius that B&M has managed to pull of – this dial could have ended up looking like an over-cluttered mess, but it isn’t. In fact, it offers a visual harmony that is rare to see in complicated watches.
The stainless steel timepiece is paired with a dark navy blue alligator leather strap that features a quick-change mechanism. It’s a good-looking thing, and we really like that B&M have gone to the effort of curving the spring bars, so the strap integrates seamlessly with the lugs and case. We’re also fond of the steel triple-fold deployant clasp that’s attached to the ’gator strap; it helps to lift the overall luxury of the timepiece.
Australian Pricing of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-Date and Moon-Phase Automatic in steel
We’ve got a really good feeling about the new Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Day-Date and Moon-Phase Automatic in steel. Especially when you consider it retails for just $6900 AUD, which is very aggressive pricing, all things considered. Let’s hope it wears as good as it looks.