Baume & Mercier has always had a strong reputation for design and elegance, having made traditional timepieces for the better part of two centuries. Starting out as a watch retail company in the Jura region, the manufacture soon won a strong reputation for creating refined and accurate timepieces and were one of the earliest companies to bring their watches around the world. Their commercial success was aided by an expansion in London, and through it, the Empire’s long reach into colonial Australasia. In the past, Baume & Mercier produced classic watches that ranged from simple three-hand timepieces to grand complications, and during the late 19th century, won awards at the Grand Prix world fairs and observatory prizes in timekeeping.
However, it was during the early 20th century that the company’s success in design, thanks to the partnership of William Baume and Paul Mercier. In 1919, a year after the partnership took place, Baume & Mercier earned itself the Hallmark of Geneva seal, one of the most prestigious certificates a watch label can receive in terms of determining the quality of its production. The Hallmark of Geneva examines the finishing and design of timepieces produced and manufactured in Geneva. During this time it produced some of the most elegant timepieces that have remained in its archives. Today, the company has revived another classic, the Clifton watch, from the 1950s.
The baby boomer generation was responsible for some of the most iconic design classics of the century in nearly every single industry. Architecture, furniture, menswear design and men’s accessories as well as timepieces all flourished during the rapid economic expansion of the era, post-WWII and the Great Depression of the ’20s. Considered the golden era, the watch is an excellent example of a beautiful classic timepiece. The new Clifton watch comes in three models – a red gold edition, a complete calendar timepiece and a small seconds variation.
The red gold classic watch closely resembles the original watch with a couple of slight variations: its sized slightly larger compared with its predecessor, necessary since the modern era calls for a larger watch on the wrist. While the former watch alternated between hour indices using Arabic numerals and markers, the new Clifton in red gold has two hour indices in numerals at 12 and 6, following the same font design with a curved style that is sweetly reminiscent of the era of Mad Men style. The new watch also bears a date disc, a practical addition to the watch. The style of the numerals is similarly echoed in the lugs of the watch, which are curved in the violin style and finished with alternating polished and satin finishes on the surface.
The complete calendar is a new take on the watch, with a small day and month aperture on the dial and a calendar indicator on the watch’s main dial, represented by an additional hand on the watch. Here the company has brought back the alternating hour indicators, and added in a moonphase indicator at the bottom of the dial. Available in a steel case, there are two editions of the watch with a white or blue dial – naturally the blue dial offers a bolder statement on the wrist. The small seconds model has a subdial at six o’clock that accentuates the simplicity of the display: as a point, the company has followed the open counter designs of the subdials of the era to preserve the design of the watch. The white dial variation offers blued steel hands or gold ones that truly resemble the original Clifton, while a black dial with steel hands has a more masculine and executive look.
Check out the Clifton video here and take a browse through the entire Clifton collection. Find out more about the history of the Clifton here as well. Finally, find out more about the flagship of the entire collection, the Clifton 1830, in upcoming issues of the magazine!