Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic Smoked Grey Dial
Nearly three years ago, during SIHH 2018, Baume & Mercier introduced Baumatic. Since then, two CEOs have taken over, SIHH has been replaced by Watches and Wonders (whose recently-announced 2021 full digital edition was in the headlines this week), and Baumatic has turned to be among the brand's hero collections. With this new product family, the Geneva-based brand has redefined what "affordable luxury" stands for in watchmaking, thus forcing its competitors to close up as soon as they could. An extended power reserve, along with longer service intervals, better accuracy, and anti-magnetic properties set the standard higher; so far, Oris is the only brand to have caught up, given its new in-house caliber 400 is, no doubt, a direct contender to its Swiss-made counterpart. They're equally offering specs and features once restricted to a selected few, high-end brands.
Baume & Mercier nailed it with the Baumatic; they unstoppably developed and improved the product offering during the early stage of the product lifecycle by adding new and more attractive color palettes, like the striking smoked blue dial or extended the warranty from five to seven years. Providing after-sales services value that high has triggered other brands belonging to the Richemont Group to follow up. As far as the Clifton Baumatic is concerned, the new collection has joined the top-selling Classima in increasing the brand's bottom line by adding rather than replacing; add an under-the-3,000-Euro price tag on the stainless steel options, and there you have it.
What sets the 2020 time-only variant apart from its 2019 sibling? From a technical perspective, product managers just added a slate gray option to the standard offering; instead, I'd take this chance to rewind and list pros and cons with the Baumatic product family so far. The additional smoked gray options is a range extender; with the blue tone being so flamboyant and the original white one feeling so mainstream instead, the new option feels as classy as it is vivid, primarily when paired with a blue alligator leather strap (you can opt for a five-link bracelet, too). Whatever the option, the dial is an enameled disc with riveted indexes and alpha-styled hands on top.
The Baumatic is a thin watch by any means; at 4,2mm high, the COSC-certified Baumatic BM13 1975A caliber is among the slimmest available in its class. Let's bear in mind this caliber offers 120 hours of total power reserve; we cannot deny it is a remarkable work of engineering; in summary, a Clifton Baumatic 10550 is so thin to slide under the tightest cuff easily. Conversely, I would have gone for a tang buckle rather than any folding clasp; kudos to Baume & Mercier for the refined logo-branded one, but be ready to count more people in if you're opting for a small pin buckle.
Overall, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10550 or 10551 is a great "daily wearer," but I still feel its industrially-manufactured foothold too much; flip the case over and take a look at the mechanical movement, visible through the open case-back, and prove me wrong. Suppose you compare, for example, the first-gen classic Clifton collection (i.e., the hand-wound series, the perpetual calendar, and the tourbillon) to the current Baumatic. In that case, you'll end up stating that the latter outperforms the old one in performance, specs, and long-term reliability, on paper, whereas the original one offers more traditional build quality and savoir-faire. Here is where the Baumatic should step up sometime soon. Finally, here are the sticker prices: the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10550 retails for 2,800 Euros, while reference 10551, on steel, costs 2,950 Euros. For additional information, please visit the brand's official website.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®