November 30, 2016
by Victor Marks
Baume & Mercier make a range of classically styled watches, usually priced in the $2,000 to $5,000 price range. Occasionally, they offer something a bit special, something that is “an emblem of flawless watchmaking,” as they describe the Clifton collection, and that is what’s on offer today. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Perpetual Calendar is a high-complication jewel of a watch showcasing the brand’s upper level of products and price.
This isn’t the first time Baume & Mercier has offered high complications. In the past, they’ve released tourbillons, eight-day power reserve watches, and pocket repeaters, forming a tradition of making high-end watches that offer something unique in each one.
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Perpetual Calendar is the newest timepiece in this pantheon. We do see high complications in stainless steel cases, but Baume & Mercier here employ a polished and satin-finished case in beautiful 18K red gold.
The movement is visible through the sapphire display back, and it’s a joy to look at, with its micro-rotor, circular graining, Geneva stripes, and blued screws. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Perpetual Calendar begins with the extra-flat Vaucher caliber 5401, an automatic, micro-rotor movement just 2.6mm thin and 30mm in diameter from Manufacture Vaucher. They then make it a mite thicker by applying a perpetual calendar plate provided by the Dubois-Depraz 5100 Module. The combination of the caliber 5401 with the Dubois-Depraz module creates a movement that’s very svelte, at only 4.2mm thin.
In contrast to watchmakers that buy movements from third parties and relabel them with their own nomenclature, the Baume & Mercier press release lists the two parts as simply, “Manufacture Automatic (Dubois Depraz 5100, base Vaucher 5401).” We appreciate their clearness in a space that is frequently clouded. Make no mistake, using these parts isn’t a some form of cost reduction. Vaucher is owned by the Sandoz Family Foundation, and have manufactured movements for clients including Richard Mille and Hermes.
The really lovely thing about the Baume & Mercier Perpetual Calendar is how well the sub-dials are spaced. They appear well-proportioned to the face, placing the month at the top, the date to the right, day of week to the left, and moonphase with seconds at the bottom of the dial. The dial at the 12 position also keeps track of leap years. Theoretically, the watch will keep track of time without needing to be adjusted until March of the year 2100, provided you wind it regularly and service it periodically.
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Perpetual Calendar is an excellent addition to the Clifton Collection. For US$22,900, you get a perpetual calendar watch in a gold case and attractive movement – it is delightfully thin, reliable, and well worth the consideration of those in the market for a classical perpetual calendar watch fore everyday wear. baume-et-mercier.ch