Watches: Baume & Mercier Clifton 8-Day Power Reserve (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on October 16, 2014

For the SIHH 2013, Baume & Mercier's design team dug into the brand's sizeable archives to come up with an entirely new collection: the Clifton. They drew their inspiration from the dress watches of what is known as the "Golden Era" of the 1950s and presented a well-proportioned, modern-sized line of classic-looking timepieces with a clear layout and enough attention to details throughout the design process to create an upscale contemporary watch for vintage lovers. It was named after a South African seaside resort.

Success was immediate and the line has already expanded so much that it is quite difficult to imagine it was only launched last year! The growth, however, is well thought out and every new piece serves a purpose.

After the initial every-day Clifton Automatic and the Clifton GMT extremely useful to frequent travellers, the brand presented the sportier Clifton Chronograph model that has become a must of any successful collection.

With the Clifton Retrogade featuring a power reserve and a day of the week in addition to the retrograde date, the brand proved earlier this year that they were not afraid to explore the world of complications with this leading model. A statement made already very clear last year with the stunning Clifton Complete Calendar Moonphase!

Alongside these good value for money timepieces for a clientele with understated tastes and a true appreciation for Horology, the brand also introduced more exclusive models in red gold for seasoned aficionados in search of something rare and perfectly crafted.

It all started with the stunning Clifton 1830 in a 42 mm red gold case with an opaline silver dial and more importantly a fine La Joux-Perret 7381 manually-wound movement. A model soon followed by the even more exclusive and Fine Watchmaking-oriented Clifton Flying Tourbillon 1892. Housed in an imposing but still extremely elegant 45.5 mm red gold case, this Haute Horlogerie model houses the La Joux-Perret P591 manual calibre with a flying tourbillon escapement!

Although extremely well-crafted and perfectly reliable from a technical viewpoint, these truly "horological timepieces" were lacking one characteristic the appeal to the most hardcore watch enthusiasts: the manufacture component! Let's face it: in certain circles, people are not even considering the watches without this magic word that acts as a terrific door opener...

The new Clifton 8-Day Power Reserve unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2014 was thus the next logical step for Baume & Mercier if the brand wanted to compete in these narrow Fine Watchmaking spheres. But let me just say: what a step!

First of all, with its 45*13 mm red gold case presenting alternating brushed and polished surfaces, the brand shows it perfectly understands that what is important in a retro looking model is the vintage look but that nobody wants the tiny size of yesteryear watches any more! In my view, reworking the dimensions of the watch is one of the biggest parts of the revamping process...

Nevertheless, the references to the 1950s remain very vivid on this model worn on black alligator strap secured by a pin buckle. For instance, the opaline silver dial with red gold faceted hands and riveted numerals and indexes is gently domed to match the shape of the sapphire crystal. The "chevé" shape of said crystal, by the way, is identical to that of the acrylic glass of historical models of that period and the shape of the bezel and lugs also evoke ancient watches, albeit cleverly modernised.

What makes the watch so special, though, is of course the large-sized manufacture calibre that beats inside at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. This high-end manually-wound movement with an impressive 8-day power reserve obtained by a single barrel is equipped with a hacking seconds mechanism to ensure the most accurate possible time-setting.

The discreet power reserve indicator at 9 o'clock tells you when to rewind this fine piece of watchmaking and, in case you forget, a specific mechanism disables the variable-inertia balance at the end of 192 hours, that is when the energy left becomes insufficient to ensure the accuracy of the movement.

From the exhibition back you can enjoy the outstanding finish of this in-house beauty including the Côtes de Genève decorations on the bridges as well as the engraved Greek letter "Phi", the golden ratio and symbol of the brand since the 1960s. The beveled and polished edges, the blued screws and the perlage motif on the main plate are among the upscale decorations you will find on this timepiece.

The Clifton 8-Day Power Reserve will only be produced in a limited run of 185 pieces to celebrate the 185 years of existence of Baume & Mercier, making this stunning timepiece even more special...

For more information please visit the Baume & Mercier web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: