Founded in 1830, Baume & Mercier has a proud history, producing award-winning complicated timepieces in the 19th century and both pure classics and avant garde designs during the 20th. Today the company is known for producing beautiful, Swiss-made watches at accessible prices. Here are five we can recommend, each available for less than $5,000.*
1. Clifton Small Seconds 10054
This Clifton watch with small seconds offers classic good looks that work with dress and casual attire. We like the gold dauphine hands, the subtle blue numerals on the seconds track, and the sweeping polished bevel that follows the edge of the caseband and lugs. The aesthetic is vintage, but the 41-mm case is a perfect modern size. A domed, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment protects the silver satin dial with applied gilt Arabic numerals. The Swiss-made Sellita automatic movement with 31 jewels can be viewed through the sapphire display back. A brown alligator strap on a double-folding buckle completes the package.
The Clifton Small Seconds 10054 is priced at $2,850.
2. Classima Executives Automatic 8688
This Classima model enhances joy of owning a timepiece with a mechanical movement by placing twin apertures in the dial at 12 o’clock, directly above the movement’s balance wheel. These apertures, and the corresponding porthole in the caseback, allow you to see the balance wheel as it swings back and forth, regulating the unwinding of the mainspring. Above the apertures, Baume & Mercier’s trademark, the Greek letter Phi, crowns the dial, symbolizing balance and perfection. Applied Roman numerals and indexes mark the hours. Blued hands stand above the modern white dial with line guilloché décor in the center. The case measures 42 mm in diameter and only 9.5 mm thick. The Swiss-made automatic movement is visible through a sapphire display back. The Classima 8688 is secured to the wrist by a dark brown alligator strap fitted with a double-folding deployant buckle.
The Classima 8688 is priced at $3,150.
3. Capeland Chronograph 10066
Those seeking something a bit more sporting need look no further than the Capeland Chronograph 10066. Inspired by a model originally launched in 1948, this chronograph is the flagship of the Capeland collection. The 44-mm case offers 50-meter water resistance and houses a La Joux Perret 8120 chronograph caliber that is visible through the sapphire caseback. The rotor is decorated with the Baume & Mercier “Phi” symbol. Old-school mushroom-style pushers add to the overall vintage vibe. Telemeter and tachymeter scales circle the outer edge of the striking blue dial. The former lets you measure the distance to an event that can be both seen and heard, and the latter allows you to measure speed over a known distance. The chronograph offers a central seconds hand, a 30 minute totalizer at 3 o’clock, and a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. The continuous small seconds are located at 9 o’clock. The hour and minute hour hands are treated with Superluminova for improved visibility in low light. The beefy stainless-steel bracelet features polished and satin finishes and wide center links. The double-folding clasp is actuated via pushbuttons.
The Capeland Chronograph 10066 is priced at $4,350.
4. Clifton Moon Phase 10055
Taking a couple of steps up the complications ladder, this Clifton 10055 offers what is sometimes referred to as a “triple date moon” display, or a complete calendar. The “triple date” refers to the day and month windows just below the Baume & Mercier name on the dial, and the date indicated by a centrally mounted pointer with a red diamond-shaped tip. This complication combination was very popular during the 1950s, and Baume & Mercier does an excellent job of updating it in a case that measures a modern 43 mm in diameter. The dial is satin-finished silver with gold applied Arabics and hour markers. A blue dial is also available. Behind the dial resides a Swiss Sellita movement with a Dubois Depraz calendar module. The movement runs in 25 jewels at 28,800 vph. The day, date, month and moon phase displays are set via pushers in the sides of the case. A black alligator strap with a double-folding deployant clasp secures this piece to the wrist.
The Clifton Moon Phase 10055 is priced at $4,850.
5. Hampton Chronograph 10030
This striking chronograph is inspired by a model Baume & Mercier model produced during the Art Deco period. Rectangular chronographs are rare, and at 48.4 x 34.3 mm, this piece makes a statement on the wrist. Bi-compax chronographs have a nicely balanced look, and this one is well done with the date at 6 o’clock. We like the fact that the date appears at the edge of the dial. The Hampton Chronograph 10030 is powered by a Swiss-made automatic movement with 37 jewels and a 42 hour power reserve. The caseback is solid, so the movement is not on display. The chronograph features central seconds and a 60-minute counter at 3 o’clock. The continuous seconds appear at 9 o’clock. A black alligator strap on a double-folding buckle completes the package.
The Hampton Chronograph 10030 is priced at $4,950.
This article was originally published in 2014; prices are subject to change.