Baume & Mercier are about affordable luxury, and their Classima range of watches, originally launched in 2004 and a pillar of the brand, has been completely redesigned to create more contemporary pieces, celebrating the brand’s 185th anniversary this year (Baume & Mercier was founded in 1830). Classima was originally for men only, but this year, reflecting the general trend towards feminine mechanical watches, it is available in models for women as well. The men’s versions are in 40 mm cases with mechanical movement, and the women’s versions at 36.5 mm are large enough to enclose automatic movements, though the range also includes quartz versions that are a little slimmer than the mechanical pieces.
The basic concept of Classima is that of the entry-level watch, for people aged 25-40, the classic watch bought to mark a special occasion and that could become the first of a series. The men’s watch has a classic dial, with the guilloché at the centre reflecting the pinstripe motif that is part of classical menswear. Hands are either in blued steel or gilt, matching the steel case or the steel-gold combinations of some versions. The sapphire caseback reveals the mechanical movement (Sellita SW200, automatic, 38 hours power reserve), with oscillating weight engraved with the Baume & Mercier logo, the Phi that is a Greek letter but also the symbol of the Golden Mean. The watch is mounted on an alligator strap with an efficient adjustable triple-folding buckle, or a two-tone metal bracelet. It is slim enough (8.95 mm) to be a dress watch, but its modern design makes it good with just about any dress code.
In the women’s versions, the guilloché at the centre of the dial is in sunray format, while the dial itself is white or mother-of-pearl, with Roman numerals and diamond-set indices. In this case the movement is the automatic ETA 2892 with personalized oscillating weight, and 42 hours power reserve. The watch is 36.5 mm in diameter and 7.95 mm thick. The quartz version of the watch is slimmer at 5.65 mm, and has a trendy violet strap, while another quartz version has a moon phase display at the centre of the dial, with the blue sky coordinating with the glossy blue alligator strap.
The stainless steel Classima for men retails at around £1,500 (€1,970), and the version with two-tone bezel and bracelet at about £2,600 (€3,400).
The next step up for men could be the 43 mm Clifton Automatic Big Date and Power Reserve, also presented at SIHH 2015, a sophisticated watch with a 1950s look and good finish, with contrasting satin and polished parts on case and bezel, and hand finish that makes every piece look a little different. One very nice touch is the strap that is profiled where it meets the case, eliminating the gap by means of its curved outline, a feature usually found on much more expensive watches. Its movement is based on an ETA (possibly a Soprod), with 40 hours power reserve. Price about £2,700 (€3,500 circa). More about these watches at www.baume-et-mercier.com