May 17, 2013
by James Stacey
Baume & Mercier is an interesting brand that hasn’t seen a large share of the spotlight in recent years. Having a model range that is almost exclusively dress watches or vintage-inspired pieces has meant that B&M spent years playing second to sportier brands like TAG Heuer and Omega. The fact is, B&M has a rather solid lineup of dressy and casual watches in a price range that is experiencing renewed competition now that Omega has moved up market. Case in point, the new Clifton Complete Calendar 10055, a lovely everyday dress watch sporting a svelte triple date complication and moon phase display. The Clifton line was launched this year and boasts enough variety and style in its range to be very successful in spreading the word that Baume & Mercier would like a spot on your wrist.
You can read about the entire Clifton line here, but in this review we will focus on the 10055 Complete Calendar. This 43mm wide stainless steel watch measures 12.5mm thick, with a nicely wearable 50mm lug to lug length. As its name suggests, the 10055 offers a triple calendar display with a small window for the day and month and a pointer hand for the date display, which references a 31 day track around the edge of the dial. Keeping with the traditional design, we also see a moon phase display above six o’clock. While the 10055 version is characterized by a silver dial with gold markers and hands, it is worth noting that the dial is not simply silver but appears, in some light, to be creamy or even slightly gold-tone. The coloring of the dial along with the triple date and moon phase really give you the wrist presence of a vintage watch combined with the case size of a modern piece. While I really like this dial version because of its traditional vibe, it would be a hard choice between this one and the 10057 which sports a metallic blue dial with silver hands and markers.
Legibility is good but not great, in some light the combination of the domed sapphire crystal and light-gold handset can be hard to read. Furthermore, when quickly glancing at the watch, the long and thin date pointer hand can be confused with the seconds hand, which is only slightly thinner and longer. If you take more than a moment to look at the dial, you will notice that the date pointer hand is adorned with a red arrow point to help distinguish it among the mix. The dial is nicely proportioned, well finished and worthy of your attention, but it may not be the best design in terms of “glancability”.
The Baume & Mercier 10055 is powered by a Sellita SW 300 with a Dubois Depraz 9000 calendar module added to support the extra features. The SW 300 offers automatic winding, 25 jewels and a power reserve of 42 hours making it a suitable replacement for a movement such as the ETA 2824 or 2892. The four additional features (date, day, month and moon phase) are each controlled via distinct pin pushers at two, four, eight and ten on the case sides (see the included video for a better look). These pushers require a small pointed instrument and a steady hand to advance any of the features. While a bit cumbersome, these pin pushers allow the 10055 a much more elegant case profile that is not complicated by standard pushers or buttons. Timekeeping was accurate to within a few anecdotal seconds per day and the Clifton can be hand wound to prevent having to re-establish the accuracy of the triple cal and moon phase display.
The case is about as big as I could imagine for a watch of this type. While the nicely curved lugs and reasonable lug to lug distance makes the 10055 very comfortable to wear, this styling is more commonly seen on much smaller watches. The case has a mixed finish with nicely brushed elements along the case side and the bezel which are separated by long ribbons of polished metal that run the length of the case and conform to the curvature of the lugs. The brushed bezel gives the admittedly dressy 10055 a more everyday appeal that also dispenses with any unruly impressions that this watch might qualify as bling. Even at 43mm, I don’t think it would be a stretch to call the 10055 a fairly subtle and unassuming piece.
The case back is fully polished and features a display window allowing a view of the movement within. The movement features a signed rotor and it has been decorated with a circular pearlage finish. Viewed from the back, it easy to see how short and curved the Clifton’s lugs really are, a design that makes the watch compatible with smaller wrists but doesn’t sacrifice overall case size.
The lugs are 21mm wide and the black leather alligator strap tapers to 18mm at the clasp. As nice as the strap may be, and it is, with fitted ends, matched stitching and padding that makes it flexible in the area that must contour to your wrist, the clasp is something extra special. I generally hate deployant clasps, but the one fitted to this Clifton is very nice; a butterfly clasp in stainless steel with an attractive buckle and a discrete push-button release. My wrists have always been too boney for deployants but a friend recommended I try reversing the strap (so the tail exits towards the inside of my wrist) and I have to say that this advice was nothing short of superb (thanks Mike!). Heed these words, if you have long avoided deployant clasps because they dig into your wrists and cause the watch to sit awkwardly askew, try reversing the strap by mounting it upside down. Game changer.
On wrist, the Clifton Complete Calendar is a real treat. Comfortable, nice to look at, and seemingly capable of working with any level of dress above sneakers and shorts. Were this my 10055, I would quickly start hunting for a brown leather strap as I think it would better match not only the off-silver/gold coloring of the dial, but also the more casual situations in which I would often have it on wrist. The Clifton Complete Calendar has a very luxurious wrist presence that really feels special and is a good example of personal luxury, in that while it is a treat to wear, it is not in any way ostentatious or blingy.
The Clifton range has something to offer most buyers but the Complete Calendar is just a bit more special. If you like the idea of a triple cal but don’t fancy the more diminutive case sizes of vintage options (not to mention the prices for certain brands), the Clifton Complete Calendar seems like an excellent choice and I definitely recommend seeing it in person if you’re in the market for a dressy everyday piece with an interesting and traditional complication setup. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Complete Calendar retails for $4900 USD and if that cash were coming out of my pocket, it would be a tough choice between the 10055 seen here and the blue-dialed 10057 version they also have on offer. Even for a sport watch lover like myself, I really like the 10055 for its old-school design, modern footprint, and undeniable charm.
>Brand: Baume & Mercier
>Model: Clifton Complete Calendar 10055
>Price: $4900 USD
>Size: 43 x 12.5 mm (50 mm lug to lug)
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a vintage vibe in a modern platform
>Best characteristic of watch: The beautiful dial layout and design