I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandre Peraldi, Design Director of Baume & Mercier, and surveyed several models laid out in front of me including the Baume & Mercier Clifton GMT.
A modern-day business professional will often travel as part of their working life. Commerce can often necessitate conducting business on two continents, either in person or by phone.
Time can be a confusing phenomenon, especially to the sleep deprived executive. Trying to juggle the day between two locations, perhaps with local time determining the business schedule and family life working to home time, human error can occur. Indeed, like many men of my age, I have phoned home in the past, trying to catch a brief moment of domesticity, only to wake up the children at an ungodly hour.
In truth, working away from home may, at first glance, appear glamorous. A daily life of fine cuisine and luxury hotel rooms does initially seem attractive. However, as it becomes a constant in one’s life, the expense account allure begins to wane.
The fact is when travelling becomes an intrinsic part of your professional life, then you seek convenience whenever possible. The express check-in, the priority boarding lane and the executive lounge all help to soothe the fractious furrowed brow of the fatigued business traveller.
Baume & Mercier have produced a horological tool which should help to mitigate some of the confusion, that may occur when living in two time zones. The Baume & Mercier Clifton GMT is the latest watch to join the handsome family of timepieces from this long established Genevan brand.
Recently, whilst visiting the Baume & Mercier HQ outside Geneva, I had the great privilege to visit the brand’s Design Studio. Here, I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandre Peraldi, Design Director of the brand. I surveyed several models laid out in front of me from the new Clifton collection, as well as other forthcoming delights which will be revealed, in due course, here on ESCAPEMENT.
I chatted to Alexandre and his colleague, the vivacious Sara Josephine Sandmeier, who I interviewed earlier this year at SIHH 2013. They showed me numerous mood boards which have inspired this year’s collection of handsome timepieces.
Design is an involved process. Dimensions are manipulated to achieve the desired appearance and wrist fit. Dials are chosen to convey beauty and impart time with matchless legibility. Materials are chosen which maintain the reputation for quality, yet still allow the company to make models offering accessible pricing and notable value.
It was clear the two stylish artisans in front of me make no compromises. Alexandre and Sara Josephine exhibit a dogged determination to deliver peerless style, exalted quality and remarkable worth. They openly admit many ideas which fail to meet these three aims are discarded to memory. Compromise is not part of the lexicon employed by this close-knit team.
Recently, I placed the two Clifton GMT models on my wrist and found them both to be handsome and extremely comfortable to wear. However, my preferred model of the two is the slate-grey dial variant. It is simply gorgeous and necessitates further discussion.
The sun satin-finished slate grey dial has a wonderfully rich character. Whereas the sun satin-finished silver dial variant is slightly youthful and chaste in character, the slate grey dial version personifies a person who has lived a little. It successfully blends 1950s design cues, refracts them through a contemporary lens, and produces a sublime fusion of the vintage and neoteric.
Golden hands, facetted in form, convey hours and minutes with timeless elegance. A central seconds hand is as long as the legs of a supermodel. It reaches outwards to the chapter ring and engages with the series of white marks which denote minutes and parts thereof.
A fourth golden hand denotes this is a GMT. It is shorter in length than the aforementioned seconds hand and is tipped with a red inlay. This hand denotes the home time, allowing the wearer to remain connected with their base, irrespective of their current locale. Furthermore, this hand interfaces with a 24-hour display which circumnavigates the dial, ensuring the user is able to distinguish between day or night back home.
This Clifton, in common with other models in the range, employs a mix of Arabic numerals for even hours and tear-shaped batons to denote the odd hours. It is only after leaving Geneva that I realised I failed to enquire which designer conceived this detail. I am still left intrigued as to the identity of the author, who penned this poetic gem.
A date aperture is located at 3 o’clock. The date is presented in white text on a black background.
Above noon, a further flourish of red is exhibited with “24” depicted in a hue matching the tip of the GMT hand, tying both aspects together attractively.
An aspect which never ceases to fool me is the case diameter. It measures 43 mm in diameter, yet somehow appears smaller.
I often pride myself on being able to pick up a round cased watch and estimate the diameter to an accuracy of +/- 1 mm. However, in this instance my discerning eye was fooled and my perception of scale wrong-footed. There is a reason for my miscalculation. The watch has a stepped case, fooling the wearer to think the timepiece is smaller than it actually is.
The domed shaped sapphire crystal deferentially doffs its hat to the 1950s styling of historic Baume & Mercier models.
As I sat in the Design Studio in Geneva, light flooded through the large windows and I wondered whether this was the rationale that led to one of the key fundamentals of the Clifton design. The team have expertly played with polished and satin-brushed surfaces. The resultant aesthetics of the watch are magnificent, light is reflected off the caseband, not annoyingly or in a distracting way, but imparting a sense of wellbeing.
A sapphire caseback provides sight of the mechanical movement powering the four hands and date disc.
Baume & Mercier utilise movements from several different companies and this allows them to deliver exceptional value. They openly reveal the source of each movement and avoid the “smoke and mirrors” employed by some who choose to use their own calibre names to deceive the would be buyer and trick them into thinking the watch contains a Manufacture movement.
In common with all Baume & Mercier watches, the Clifton GMT features a Swiss movement. In this instance, it is the self-winding ETA 2893-2.
The finishing of the movement is to Baume & Mercier specification and is very good, especially considering the attractive price point of the model. The rotor is detailed with Côtes de Genève motif, snailed decor and the company’s logo, the Greek letter, Phi.
Perlage and snailed bridges provide further evidence of the fine finissage to be found residing within the case of the GMT Clifton.
Baume & Mercier are a brand for the discriminating purchaser. They proffer elevated style to rival the best, they use high quality components and deliver remarkable value for money.
There are many virtues to be seen with the GMT Clifton, from the well-executed movement, the wonderfully resolved case and the user-friendly presentation of two time zones.
I tried on the watch with its red-brown alligator strap and admired the triple folding buckle with its security push-pieces. It is exceptionally comfortable and functions faultlessly with a positive action. I passed comment on its fantastic tactility and proceeded to be shown a myriad of strap samples which were considered and subsequently rejected. I looked at vast numbers of prototypes featuring different bracelets and straps. It is only when you see the work behind the scenes that you truly come to understand the perseverance and patience required to produce a watch of this quality at such an accessible price.
Baume & Mercier have created an exceptional GMT worthy of any globetrotting business professional or indeed any would-be purchaser who seeks an attractively priced, quality Swiss timepiece.
Model: Baume & Mercier Clifton GMT
Reference: MOA 10111
Case: Stainless steel; dimensions 43.00 mm; height 11.35 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date; dual-time.
Movement: ETA 2893-2, self-winding; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve 42 hours
Strap: Red-brown alligator leather strap presented on steel folding buckle with security push-pieces.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.