The concept of Établissage is a standard much-coveted by most if not all watchmakers all over the world. It involves the mastery of every single stage of a watch’s development, as well as guaranteeing its highest quality by assembling its various component parts in-house. Baume & Mercier is one of those watchmakers. Firmly connected to its traditional roots, it is an expertise Baume & Mercier has perpetuated and developed for over 186 years…even in the face of offering quality timepieces at decidedly bang-for-your-buck prices.
Still, the lure of producing watches with high-end complications is an enthralling one. Which is why the watchmaker has historically (if somewhat periodically) offered exclusive timepieces with high-end complications. A practice that Baume & Mercier continues to this day.
Thus, over the past few years Baume & Mercier began offering exclusive timepieces within its Clifton Collection, a collection already composed of exclusive watches like the Clifton Manual 90-hours Power Reserve; the Clifton Manual Flying Tourbillon; the Clifton Manual 8-day Power Reserve; and just last year, the exceptional Clifton Manual 5-minute Repeater pocket watch.
This year the “ethereal” perpetual calendar gets the “exclusive” Baume & Mercier treatment with the new Clifton Perpetual Calendar. An homage to astronomical observation and the beauty of celestial mechanics, the Clifton Perpetual Calendar embodies one of the most successful and fascinating complications of distinguished watchmaking. Indeed, what other instrument better connects humanity with the universe?
Designed and developed in-house at the brand’s Geneva headquarters and completed in their workshops in Les Brenets in the Jura Mountains, the Clifton Perpetual Calendar is crafted in 18K rose gold and mechanically negotiates all the peculiarities of the Gregorian calendar with its 31, 30 or 28-day months as well as the periodic appearance of the 29th day in February.
Best of all, not only does the Clifton Perpetual Calendar also keep track of the phases of the moon, but also establishes itself within the lineage of the most complicated date-tracking watches by not requiring any date corrections before the 1st of March 2100, a non-leap year that appears three centuries out of four.
The Clifton Perpetual Calendar is driven by the particularly high-end Vaucher calibre 5401, an extra-flat, micro-rotor, self-winding movement manufactured by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier SA. And if the name sounds familiar it’s because this is the same manufacture that started out as Parmigiani Mesure et Art du Temps, which was founded by Michel Parmigiani in 1976 but was split into two companies: the production house (Vaucher Manufacture) and the Parmigiani Fleurier brand, after being flush with backing from the Sandoz family; yes, the heirs to the Sandoz pharmaceutical giant, which is known today by their other name: Novartis.
“Clifton Perpetual Calendar mechanically negotiates all the peculiarities of the Gregorian calendar”
Thus, the watchmaking from Vaucher Manufacture is clearly separated from the activity of promoting the Parmigiani Fleurier brand and is free to operate in the high-end and “prestige” sectors to produce high quality movements for watchmakers like Richard Mille, Carl F. Bucherer, and now Baume & Mercier.
The perpetual calendar comes courtesy of a Dubois-Depraz 5100 module that endows the Clifton Perpetual Calendar with a mechanical memory of 1461 days, which, by the way, is the equivalent of four years.
And in a completely laudable move that can only be described as the height of transparency, the provenance of both movement and module is clearly provided by Baume & Mercier. How’s that for being completely secure in your own skin?
The movement ticks away at 21,600 vibrations/hour for a power reserve of 48 hours and is elegantly finished with respect to the fine art of traditional watchmaking. This includes finishing like Côtes de Genève on the bridges and stippling on the bottom plate as well as blued steel screws. The micro-rotor, which makes it possible to pare down the movement for a case that is barely 4.2 mm thick, is decorated with the brand’s Phi symbol and features a snailed décor. All of which can be admired through the sapphire crystal back of an elegant 42 mm case with carefully drawn curves forged in 18K red gold.
Indeed, the new Clifton Perpetual Calendar captivates with its simplicity: topped with a sapphire “chevé” (that’s domed for the rest of us) crystal for better readability, its silvered opaline dial is stylish and classic, complemented by numerals and stamped indexes in 18K red gold, while blued hands indicate the watch’s calendar functions. The date appears at 3 o’clock, the days of the week at 9 o’clock while the months and the leap years are at 12 o’clock. Last but not least, the timeless elegance of this Clifton Perpetual Calendar extends to its black alligator strap with a pin buckle in 18K red gold.
In line with Baume & Mercier’s philosophy of offering accessible timepieces, including those which boast complex watchmaking complications, this model was designed with a care and an attention to detail worthy of the finest watchmaking. But unlike those other “regular” Baume & Mercier models, which champion the value-for-money range, the exclusive but still production-line Clifton Perpetual Calendar is limited by the fact that its complication takes more time to produce. Thus, it costs a little bit more. Nevertheless, it still falls safely within Baume & Mercier’s bullish “value-conscious” parameters. And in our book that is always a good thing.