The Baume et Mercier Clifton Baumatic 2019 watch hands-on
Last year, I wrote a long post on the Clifton Baumatic collection. Of all the brands belonging to the Richemont Group, Baume & Mercier is the one that launched the most innovative automatic caliber, the result of an ambitious and revolutionary project, whose aim was to focus customers' attention on technical specifications rather than just aesthetic appeal. Shelby Cobra and, especially, Indian Motorcycles, which marked the two previous editions of SIHH, are no longer under the spotlight and, I guess, will not be any more linked to the brand pretty soon.
An Italian roadshow aimed at training the brand's Authorized Dealers
Each high-volume brand mainly relies on its network of authorized multi-brand dealers to promote the new products and so does Baume & Mercier. In this scenario, a brand's main task is, therefore, to thoroughly train its network of authorized dealers around the globe each time a new collection of watches is released and retailers must then effectively convey the new product's feats to potential buyers. This task is even more delicate when a timepiece offers a list of not so common technical features that are as strongly customer oriented as not visible to the naked eye. It is the case with a Clifton Baumatic.
The Clifton Baumatic was conceived from the ground up with the aim of providing much value for money, all packed in a classic design, which I reckon was a bit too impersonal when the collection first appeared in 2018. Baume & Mercier has this year slightly updated the Baumatic offering, by introducing a three hands version in gold and a new smoked blue dial on the stainless steel variant (along with an updated caliber, the BM13-1975A) thus trying to close the gap towards the competition concerning the aesthetic appeal.
As long as the new caliber concerns, the brand did not officially release any information so far. I'm therefore not aware of the changes between the 2018 caliber BM12 and the new BM13, but I believe that, as it often happens when a process of continuous improvement is on-going, it's all about fine-tuning from one generation to another.
The original four pillars of the 2018 Baumatic project turn to five in 2019
The Clifton Baumatic project revolved initially around four central axes, reported in this slide. Each timepiece guarantees resistance to magnetic fields up to 1500 Gauss, a full five days of power reserve, a running precision between -4s and +6s per day (on those variants that are COSC certified) and has long maintenance intervals, almost double the standard in the industry.
The brand has stepped-up in 2019 by declaring a Baumatic's service interval is seven years long and has introduced a fifth pillar: the unbeatable price to content ratio.
Gold case, for the time only variant, and a new smoked blue dial.
A gold case, at Baume & Mercier, is not any significant news and so the Baumatic also comes with the COSC certification and a porcelain-effect dial at a super attractive price of €6.700. However, I think this is not where a Clifton Baumatic easily stands out.
Although Caliber BM13-1975A comes with refined finishes such as circular-grained bridges, a sand-blasted, snailed baseplate, and steel- or gold-toned tungsten oscillating weight adorned with a decoration combining Côtes de Genève with snailing, the Baumatic is a product that must be analyzed differently. By carefully reading the spec sheet rather than just using a loupe.
That's the reason why I turned my eyes to the COSC variant featuring a beautiful smoked blue dial. The 2018 Clifton Baumatic was in my opinion short on appeal, that still represents the main trigger when buying a new watch. Along with the four lines that are familiar with the Chronometer certified model, that blue dial does make justice to a product rich in technical specification and right in price (€ 2,950 for the version with a steel bracelet) less in cool factor.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®