The Baume & Mercier Classima Small Complications watches hands-on
The Classima is the core of Baume & Mercier and one of the Holy Grail collections from the Swiss brand. Baume & Mercier has over the years expanded its product portfolio with the Clifton, a sportier take on the Classima, in my opinion, and created fantastic co-branding watch collections like the Clifton Club Shelby Cobra and the Clifton Club Indian Motorcycles, but the quintessential "graduation watch," as Americans nicknamed it, is the Baume & Mercier Classima. It is classic and refined yet affordable, something that most competitors have tried to replicate, without ever matching its value proposition.
They call them "Small complications": a short term to describe pretty useful mechanical complications.
Talking about the three new Classima Small Complications models is like taking a journey into the good old days of traditional watchmaking. We are often so busy with focusing on ultra-complicated timepieces, both aesthetically and technically, to forget that a classic, no-frills and elegant watch is that choice you hardly disregard.
The Classima has received no significant upgrades over the course of the last years, just a few tweaks, but this year marks a relevant step-up, with the brand's management placing this collection once again under the spotlight, compared to the Clifton and its countless product variations.
The Baume & Mercier Classima Chronograph Complete Calendar.
Let's start with the top of the line. The Chronograph with Complete Calendar has, at Baume & Mercier, historical roots; the designers have preserved style and proportions (thickness excluded) so common on vintage chronographs with a complete calendar from the 50s and 60s that are nowadays so highly sought after. Regarding its specs, the Classima Chronograph Complete Calendar has all the features that come with such a complication, moon phases included. The case is 42mm wide yet 13.25mm, it does feel bulky on the wrist, especially with the steel bracelet option.
It is primarily due to the Valjoux 7751's thickness, whose benefits are sturdiness, and long-term reliability. Among its pros, I would highlight the blue dial with "grain d'orge" decoration that adds personality to this and the other newcomers in the Classima collection, plus the additional central hand for the day of the month, that works therefore as a so-called "pointer-date" hand.
The dial has warm color hues, that turn from a blue-grayish to a vivid blue, depending on how you move your wrist. The Baume & Mercier Classima Complete Calendar Chronograph unofficially replaces the Clifton Chronograph Complete Calendar. Some classic complications that once belonged to the Clifton collection are enriching the Classima instead, a choice that makes sense from a product offering and clusterization point of view. The Baume & Mercier Classima Chronograph Complete Calendar retails for 4.100€ on leather strap and 4.200€ steel bracelet.
The Baume & Mercier Classima Dual Time.
In between there is the Baume & Mercier Classima Dual Time, else said the Classima conceived for globetrotters. Showcasing a dial's decoration that's on par with the Chronograph Complete Calendar, it sports an additional central hand along with a 24-hour graduated ring, to indicate day and night, and home-time. It is 9.15mm thick, and sports a super-thin winding crown, making it exquisite when paired to the steel bracelet.
The GMT function is a must-have if you're frequently traveling across multiple time zones. The winning formula here is not the complication itself, that is technically easy to make, but using it as a mean to turn a too classic timepiece into a far more appealing watch without affecting the collection's DNA. Excluding the red colored tip that helps quickly identify home and local time at first glance, this is perhaps the "less Classima looking" watch among the three new Classima. The Baume & Mercier Classima Dual Time starts at 2.550€ on leather (100€ more for the stainless steel version).
The Baume & Mercier Classima Small Seconds.
The base model is the Classima Small Seconds. Given the mechanical complication, here is how you can quickly get where has the new Classima changed compared to the current one.
Also, since it is the most simplified, makes the "grain d'orge" decoration stand-out. Replacing the vertical Geneva Stripes decoration with this one has given the dial a fresh new look.
Surprisingly, the Classima Small Seconds is where the price gap between strap and steel bracelet versions is higher than anywhere else. You have to add 250€ to the base option if you're looking for the full steel, compared to the 100€ delta price if you're looking into buying the other two ones in full steel, instead.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®