Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123
A pre-launch “hands-on” review of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123.
This detailed review of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123 includes live images and specification details.
There is something reassuring about familiar surroundings. My family and I have been known to revisit the same holiday destination on numerous occasions, simply because we enjoy the recognisable locale.
When selecting a car, I usually choose an Audi. I have had several cars from the German company and have grown accustomed to their bullet-proof build quality and hewn from billet solidity. On occasion, I have migrated to another brand of car, but invariably return to the car marque known for featuring four interlocking rings on the front grille.
When I first saw the latest model from Baume & Mercier, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123, I could not help but feel a sense of reassuring familiarity. Whilst it does not represent cutting-edge design infused with modernity, it is the fact that it is reminiscent of other Clifton models I have admired before that makes it appealing to me. However, despite the numerous variants within the Clifton family, there has never been a chronograph previously, until now.
The Clifton family
Back in January 2013, Baume & Mercier launched the Clifton range, an extensive collection of new timepieces. The watches draw on the styling of former Baume & Mercier models harking back to the 1950s.
The skill shown by the talented design team of Baume & Mercier has been to create handsome watches which blend accomplished design, quality and value.
I have met Alexandre Peraldi, Design Director of Baume & Mercier and his colleague Sara Josephine Sandmeier. They are based at the brand’s design studio near Geneva. Their desks are laden with copious swatches of leather, numerous dials and a profusion of drawings. The daily regime of the design duo includes the almost obsessive search for components which show no evidence of compromise, yet allow them to deliver affordable products.
In some instances, stunningly beautiful watches are cast aside because they cannot be produced within the price constraints dictated by the brand positioning. Discussion with the two designers revealed a near religious zeal to deliver virtuous products without concession. Indeed, this culture is at the heart of the organisation, evidenced by the Baume & Mercier motto, “Accept only perfection; only manufacture watches of the highest quality.”
A new Clifton model for 2014
In January 2014, the Clifton Chronograph will be launched at SIHH, Geneva. I was kindly loaned a model for a few days to appraise its various aspects and produce this review.
The watch is available in three variants, two with gilt hands and one with blued steel hands. It is the latter which is my favoured model.
Whilst the model is new and is the first Clifton model to feature a stop-watch function, it feels like an old friend. The styling is consistent with other Clifton models. Moreover, the movement is the iconic ETA 7750 self-winding calibre, known for its reliable operation and admired by many watchmaking professionals.
The sun satin-finished dial is beautifully restrained. It does not shout or boast but quietly provides a subtle background on which to express the various functions of the watch. The subdials, whilst sharing the same hue, appear to exhibit a different shade, sometimes darker or lighter depending on the prevailing light. It is owing to their recessed positioning that this illusion is created and it is a masterful play with depth and dimensions.
Blued steel hands are ubiquitously presented for all functions. They evoke a luxurious feel and provide much visual delight.
Even hours are conveyed with Arabic numerals save for 6 o’clock and noon, whilst the odd hours are indicated with tear-shaped batons. This design language has been employed on previous Clifton models and, by adopting the same approach, Baume & Mercier has provided continuity and created a sense of belonging for this new variant.
At 3 o’clock, the day and date are presented via two apertures. They stand out on the dial, ensuring ease of read-off.
The aforementioned subdials include a 12-hour chronograph counter, subsidiary seconds display and 30-minute chronograph counter and are located at 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock and noon, respectively.
By selecting the ETA 7750 movement, the dial has a good sense of proportion with all elements ideally spaced apart. Nothing seems to be too close or misplaced.
In common with other Clifton models, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123 feels smaller than the dimensions mentioned on the specification sheet. It does not feel 43mm in diameter. However, this is no criticism. Quite the contrary, as the watch was comfortable to wear and looked very neat on my wrist.
One reason the Chronograph appears smaller is the stepped caseband. The chamfered upper edge of the caseband is highly polished and contrasts with the satin brushed finish of the bezel and vertical flank of the caseband. It is a clever exploitation of polishing and line that fools the eyes and results in a sublime outcome.
In between the horns, the chamfered edge of the caseband repeats the highly polished treatment.
While the repeated mix of surface treatment no doubt presented many challenges to the casemaker, the resultant finish is very attractive.
The exhibition caseback features a large sapphire crystal affording a clear view of the movement within. It is secured with four screws and the metalwork is highly polished.
Those readers who share my obsession for tactile feel will like the positive action of the chronograph pushers. They do not require undue pressure to actuate and their oval shape is a refreshing alternative to the usual round pushers found on many watches.
The folding clasp on the Chronograph appears similar to those fitted to some other Capeland and Clifton models that I have previously worn. Once again, the word “familiarity” comes to mind. I have always found this form of Baume & Mercier fastening comfortable and secure.
The self-winding ETA 7750 is another aspect of this watch I like. It has found service in numerous timepieces from a myriad of watch companies over the years. It is a paragon of reliability and lends itself to simple service and repair by a competent watchmaker.
Whilst, the ETA 7750 is arguably not the most aesthetically attractive chronograph movement, Baume & Mercier have certainly done a fine job enhancing its appearance.
The oscillating weight is decorated with Côtes de Gèneve motif. Furthermore, some aspects of the bridges feature perlage.
Baume & Mercier is one of the oldest maisons in the field of watchmaking and can trace its lineage back to 1830. It has drawn on the styling of former models and successfully distilled this into a timepiece relevant to today’s generation.
The scale of the watch, is clearly greater than watches typical of the 1950s. However, it looks perfectly at ease with current tastes and harnesses subtle details which make the watch appear smaller.
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123 feels reassuringly familiar with an aesthetic appearance in common with other members of the Clifton family and contains a trusted movement which is held in esteem by many watch fans around the globe.
- Model: Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123
- Ref: MOA 10123
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43.00 mm; height 14.90 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; day; date; chronograph.
- Movement: ETA 7750, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz), 25 jewels; power reserve 48 hours
- Bracelet / strap: Black alligator leather strap presented on stainless steel triple folding buckle with security push-pieces.
Further editorial on the Baume & Mercier Clifton by Angus Davies