Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149

Angus Davies reviews a new watch released at SIHH 2014, the Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149.  This is the latest model to join the Clifton family.

This detailed review of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 includes live images and specification details.

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Last year, at SIHH 2013, Baume & Mercier launched its Clifton Collection. The array of Clifton models is diverse with various complications, case and dial options all vying for the affections of watch lovers. Subsequently, a GMT model joined the range in the autumn of 2013 and, just a few weeks ago, the brand also announced a chronograph model.

According to Alain Zimmerman, CEO of Baume & Mercier, the Clifton has been a roaring success. It is not difficult to understand why, as handsome aesthetics, referencing a 1950s Baume & Mercier timepiece, together with fine quality and value make a compelling argument in favour of the Clifton.

This year, the brood of models has grown, with further Clifton timepieces joining the model range.

Variations on a theme

Some of the new models revealed at SIHH 2014 are variations of timepieces launched in 2013, such as the Clifton Two-Tone Ref. 10140 which is a bi-metallic version of the Clifton Automatic Ref. 10099, a model I enjoyed wearing for several weeks last summer.

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Baume & Mercier Clifton Two-Tone Ref. 10140

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Baume & Mercier Clifton Two-Tone Ref. 10139

Initially, the Clifton collection was restricted solely to men’s watches, however, at SIHH 2014, the brand launched a selection of quartz and self-winding watches to tempt its female clientele. Over the year, I will be looking more closely at some of the self-winding ladies models.

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Baume & Mercier Clifton Steel on Steel Ref. 10150

The Clifton Chronograph was a model shown at SIHH 2014 and, a few weeks before the annual event, I got “hands-on” for a few days with the Clifton Chronograph MOA 10123. The Genevan brand has since revealed two additional variants.

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph Ref. 10130

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph Ref. 10129

The Clifton Chronograph Ref. 10129 model is delivered on a brown alligator strap with gilt hands, numerals and indexes. Alternatively, there is a new Clifton Chronograph Ref. 10130 which has a similar dial but with a 7-row stainless steel bracelet.

Retrograde – a step forward

The Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 is an entirely new model and arguably one of the most interesting watches in the range, representing a step forward for the Clifton collection.

A retrograde date display features adjacent the crown at 3 o’clock. A blued steel hand follows an arcing path, moving downwards from the upper portion of the dial to just beyond “30” denoted with a simple black stroke. Then, in a moment of theatre, as the last moments of the 31st day elapse, the blued hand jumps upwards to the first integer on the crescent shaped scale. This type of display is arguably one of the most intriguing means of depicting the date.

While I have seen watches from rival brands feature retrograde hands before, I never tire of this complication and it always evokes a smile on my face, with its leaping ritual.

Other elements of the dial

The gilt hands and Arabic numerals on the Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 match the design language of other members of the Clifton family. There are also individual elements to the dial which are unique. The day is displayed on a snailed sundial, slightly recessed below the rest of the dial. Its surface texture provides pleasing differentiation from the sunray finish of the main dial canvas.

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Above 6 o’clock, a power-reserve indicator is located, with a smattering of red on the right hand side of the scale denoting that the mainspring is devoid of energy and the watch requires winding.

Baume & Mercier has successfully brought together various functions on the dial, employing arcing scales, a circular day display, along with conventional hands. The resultant presentation is simple to interpret, yet engaging with a symmetry and balance to the dial display which is wonderful to behold.

Expertise in procurement

Baume & Mercier makes no pretence of being a Manufacture. It has sourced its movements from various companies and, over the years, used calibres from La Joux Perret, Sellita, ETA and Val Fleurier. In this instance Soprod provides the self-winding movement within the Clifton Retrograde Date.

SIHH 2014 - Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149 (inc. live pics)

Whilst this movement does not masquerade as the last word in haute horlogerie, it delivers much virtue for the price point. Côtes de Genève motif on the oscillating mass and perlage beneath can be seen courtesy of the exhibition caseback.

The brand’s design team expend much time and effort sourcing dials, bracelets, straps and hands that deliver the appearance and quality they desire. Indeed, speaking to Sara Josephine Sandmeier in the past, she freely admitted that if a product concept couldn’t be delivered to the brand’s exacting standards, at the desired price, it would be resigned to the filing cabinet.

Closing remarks

To date, the Clifton collection has evidently been a commercial success for Baume & Mercier and rightly so.

In creating the Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149, Baume & Mercier has produced another stylish timepiece, presented with a harmonious dial. Moreover, despite its functions being presented in different ways, there is a sublime symmetry and evenness to the design of this model.

It seems with Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date Ref. 10149, the latest member to join the family is arguably the most appealing.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Baume & Mercier Clifton Retrograde Date
  • Reference: 10149
  • Case: stainless steel; diameter 43 mm; height 12.05 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; day’ retrograde date; power reserve.
  • Movement: Soprod 9094, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz), 30 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Strap: Brown alligator leather strap supplied on a triple folding buckle with security push-pieces

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