When a brand such as Baume & Mercier says they're digging into their archives for new watches, you can't be quite sure what you might see. As one of the seven oldest watch brands, they've got quite an assortment of inspiration to draw from. This latest batch of vintage-inspired pieces will expand the Clifton collection that we saw introduced earlier this year.
Drawing from what's labeled as the "golden era" of the 1950s, these new automatic Clifton chronographs will be formally introduced at SIHH in January. Intrinsically, the three are mechanically the same - 43mm stainless steel case, ETA 7750 movement (decorated and visible through the case back), sapphire crystals, and a 50m WR rating, to mention some of the highlights. Where the three models differentiate themselves then, is in the styling.
The Clifton 10129 (pictured up top) is marked as being the most vintage-looking of the collection, with gold tone hands and indices on a silver sunburst dial paired with a brown alligator strap. The next one in the collection, the Clifton 10130 takes the same look we saw in the 10129, and swaps in a seven link steel bracelet, giving it more of a sporty look than the alligator strap affords. Finally, we come to my favorite of the three, the 10123 model.
While the other two watches featured gold on the indices and hands, the 10123 opts for a rich blue finish for the hands and a silver tone on the numerals and indices. This also swaps in a black alligator strap, completing what is a much different look from the other two (that said, I think I'd opt for the steel bracelet on this variant, myself). I think what really works for me here is that you don't often see colors other than gold or silver on dress chronographs like these. And yes, they're dress chronos - there's not a hint of lume.
In terms of overall design, these look to have a clear layout, with the chronograph registers at 12 and 6, and the sub-seconds appearing at 9. Balancing out the dial, you've got the day and date display showing up at 3, with the fairly subtle branding showing up under the date. While I touched on the colors of the hands, I also want to point out their sizing and proportions.
On the main handset, these reach precisely to their appropriate time track, and the chronograph seconds looks like it heads right to the edge of the case. Their shape is a classic style which helps present a more upscale look. This proportion and sizing is also evident in the sub dials, which I truly appreciate. When you see a completely different hand style showing up on those dials, or hands that don't touch the edge of the register, it throws off the overall look and feel. Thankfully for us, Baume & Mercier avoided that trap, and has a cohesive dial design.
While pricing isn't officially "locked down" until we get to SIHH, it's anticipated that these models will come in between $3,900 and $4,200, with general availability occurring in April 2014. While these follow with the lineage established with the non-chronograph Clifton, this presents some additional functionality (and styling) that some may prefer. And besides, who ever said too many choices was a bad thing? baume-et-mercier.com