This is the first time I’ve heard of TWINSPIR, and it’s actually pretty cool, being developed by Richemont Research & Innovation. The term means “twin spiral,” and refers to the fact that the hairspring spiral is actually produced from two silicon spirals that are “bound” by a “silicon dioxide layer.” The outcome of having two hairsprings in one is (I believe) increased error correction. Given that the TWINSPIR hairspring has independent silicon “cores,” each performs differently but in very close proximity. If one of the cores deviates in some way, then the other core doesn’t necessarily deviate in the same way, and thus there is a form of error correction. Principles based on this same error-correction theme have been seen in watchmaking for hundreds of years – and when applied correctly can indeed improve performance over time. Baume & Mercier’s specific performance promises of the TWINSPIR hairspring (along with the rest of the regulation system assembly) are improved accuracy over time, reduced sensitivity to magnetism, and greater resistance to small shocks.
POWERSCAPE is the name used for the combination of the anchor and escape wheel that are each produced from silicon in the BM12.1975A movement. Silicon construction for both parts is uncommon with watches at this price, and the performance promises here are related to the ones above, as well as a decrease in or elimination of lubrication in the movement. This is because of the lower friction between the parts, which helps increase the efficiency of mainspring power and accuracy over time. Richemont specifically points out that POWERSCAPE increases mainspring energy use efficiency by 30%.
Until recently it was almost unheard of for watch brands to state rate result (accuracy) promises in new watches. That is thankfully slowly changing thanks to efforts by both Omega and Rolex. Baume & Mercier claim -4/+6 seconds per day of accuracy in the BM12.1975A automatic movement. That is the same as the minimum accuracy standards to be COSC Chronometer certified. Regarding durability, Baume & Mercier doesn’t really talk too much about specific technical enhancements, but simply say that the combined features and components inside the Baumatic watches means that servicing intervals can be five years apart for the movements.
Visible through the sapphire caseback of the Clifton Baumatic, the BM12.1795A automatic is attractive although unassuming. In design and performance the movement is very modern, but also non-pretentious. The promise of “everyday anti-magnetism” is a good idea of the type of performance that is actually useful. Baume & Mercier didn’t design the Baumatic to be wildly anti-magnetic, but rather to be entirely unaffected by daily magnetic fields you might encounter from magnets on bags to those in airport security. Baume & Mercier promises the BM12.1975A is resistant to 1,500 Gauss, which greatly reduces the concern someone might have that their watch will permanently or temporarily be affected by magnetic fields.
Minus its integration into the Clifton Baumatic watch collection, I feel that movements like the BM12.1975A have a big future at Richemont brands. If the group can successfully communicate to consumers that a new generation of mechanical watch movements offers some existing and desirable performance advantages over movements that are even just 5-10 years old, then they’ve very much helped their mid-term sales efforts. I say mid-term because the consumer education process will likely take longer than a short-term outlook, and because in the long-term it will be difficult to predict what elements or features will be most valuable to consumers in a luxury mechanical timepiece.
Baume & Mercier’s case design and construction are of a very high-quality even though most watch lovers don’t always consider those attributes when thinking of the brand. The Clifton Baumatic watches are pretty, although decidedly conservative and non-offensive in their presentation. In steel or in steel with a gold-toned bezel and crown, the 40mm wide cases are comfortable and nicely finished with a polished bezel, lugs, and caseback, with a brushed middle section. Over the dial is a domed and AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the cases are water-resistant to 50m. Case thickness (again) is 10.3mm. The dials feature applied hour markers, time with hours, minutes, and seconds, as well as a tasteful date window. The cross hair motif on the Clifton Baumatic 5 Days Chronometer model is an acquired taste, but the volume models come without that particular design element.
For those who prefer a steel bracelet in lieu of the black/brown/blue alligator strap, they have one option with the white-dialed Clifton Baumatic that comes on a pleasant five-link style bracelet. I happen to like that model quite a bit. Assuming you like the Clifton’s retro-dressy theme, my only suggested design change for Baume & Mercier would be to color the hands so that they contrast a bit more with the dial. For the Chronometer they do this with the seconds hand which is a dark gray – and it looks quite good. I feel that making the hands a darker color on the light-dialed models will further help legibility.
The aBlogtoWatch team felt strongly enough about the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic to put it on the list of our top 10 best watches of SIHH 2018. As such, I am sure the collection will not only sell well, but also be supplemented with further models in the near future. Having said that, I don’t think Baume & Mercier’s mission is done. They have a good-performing modern automatic mechanical movement in a watch designed to look like something from yesterday. I think Baume & Mercier can push themselves to come up with contemporary (yet still elegant) watches designed to fit movements such as the BM12-1975A. In my opinion, for Baume & Mercier and ValFleurier to succeed, it simply isn’t enough to put a modern movement in legacy-style watch. Bring on the modern watch collections to properly house all these cool modern movements.
For 2018 the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic watch collection will (once again) be available in five different styles. Those are the reference Clifton Baumatic M0A10398 (aka 10398) white dial and M0A10399 (aka 10399) black dial in steel, which have a retail price of $2,590 USD each. The Clifton Baumatic in steel on the matching bracelet reference M0A10400 (aka 10400) as well as the Clifton Baumatic 5 Days Chronometer M0A10436 (aka 10436) each have a retail price of $2,790 USD. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic in two tone steel and red gold M0A10401 (aka 10401) has a retail price of $3,290 USD. baume-et-mercier.com