A few months ago, we asked you, the readers, what you would like to see more of on Instagram. We received several suggestions, but the one that we heard the most was that you wanted to read about more “affordable” watches. I put “affordable” in quotations, because it is nearly impossible to discuss affordability in the luxury watch market, and it is also hard to define the meaning of affordability (i.e. one person’s trash is another person’s treasure).
So for the past month we have been trying to bring you a more diverse range of watches of all complications with all sorts of price points. Most recently, Stephen reviewed the Frederique Constant Perpetual Calendar for $8,795, which caused quite a stir at this year’s Baselworld for its elegant design and less-scary price point. So to carry on that conversation, I wanted to go hands on with the Baume & Mercier Clifton Chronograph Calendar watch: a steel watch with chronograph and complete calendar capabilities, all for just $5,100.
The Baume and Mercier Clifton Chronograph Calendar.
Baume & Mercier isn’t a manufacturer that I have covered often, and truthfully, a lot of that’s because their ladies watches just aren’t my thing. However, they make other really wonderful, timeless watches with a well-balanced price tag. It is no surprise that Baume & Mercier is best known for being a great “starter” watch company. They are perfect for the first-time watch buyer who want something new, simple, and only a bit of a stretch financially (depending on who you are). When I came across the Clifton Calendar Chronograph, I really liked it. To me this is a very handsome watch with some useful complications, an automatic movement, and a solidly constructed case. What’s not to like? Let’s break it down.
Wrist shot on Mr. Forster’s wrist.
The steel case measures 43mm, which truthfully is too big for my “childlike” (as some of you have said) wrist, but as you can see on Jack’s wrist it fits quite well. The watch itself is heavy – like, really heavy, which is a negative (and it’s pretty thick at 14.9mm) but what do you expect – this is a self-winding watch with six complications. And what are the complications exactly? The chronograph, day, date, month, 24-hour indication, and moon-phase. I think one thing that Baume & Mercier has done nicely with this watch is the dial and the layout of all these complications. Sure it’s pretty traditional, but this layout is a classic for a reason: the subsidiary dials don’t feel too cluttered and it is easy to read. Furthermore, the bright blued steel hands are a high quality accent.
The automatic Valjoux 7781 movement with sapphire crystal caseback.
The movement is not in-house (of course) but it is a reliable workhorse: the Valjoux 7781, which is a reputable movement to have in a watch such as this. Not to mention, employing a Valjoux movement allows for lower retail prices like the $5,100 price tag. It is no Lange, but the movement is cleanly finished and more than appropriate for the price.
A close up of the moon-phase.
Which brings me back to my earlier point, it seems as if Baume & Mercier know exactly who and what they are and are not. They aren’t Lange, Patek, or Rolex. Baume & Mercier is a watch manufacture that sells well-made, well-priced watches for those who might bc just getting into watches or just coming across HODINKEE for the first time. It’s for the new buyer who can’t afford a Lange Datograph, but can afford this chronograph calendar and will cherish this watch for the rest of their days, because it was their first watch. Not their last.
The only slight downside? This is a fairly thick, heavy watch.
So with that said, I think that this is a great piece for any guy (or gal if you are into “Big Boy Toys,” emphasis on big). For more information on the Baume & Mercier Clifton Collection, you can visit their website here, and see the Clifton Calendar Chronograph right here.