As Baume & Mercier’s signature semi-casual dress watch, the classically resourceful Clifton is able to play host to a pretty wide variety of complications – everything from simple GMT and moonphase displays, to perpetual calendars and this wild minute-repeating pocket watch. So it should come as little surprise that for 2017, just as in years’ past, the entry-level Richmont brand is leaning on the Clifton’s versatility to showcase their latest technology: an in-house manufactured manual-winding movement equipped with an exclusive system designed to boost accuracy.
The Baume & Mercier Clifton Manual 1830 is the first Richemont group watch to deploy this new tech, called TwinSpir, which is centered around a new type of proprietary silicon hairspring developed by the Richemont Research & Innovation team. This new spring is comprised of a unique, composite structure that combines two layers of silicon, alternatively oriented and bound through a layer of silicon dioxide. The goal was to create a hairspring that was not only immune to the usual effects – corrosion, magnetism, etc., but one that was also largely immune to changes in temperature and infinitesimal variances in tension while it oscillates.
Now, calling TwinSpir the basis for a thermocompensated mechanical movement would be something of a gross oversimplification, but this isn’t far from the premise, either. However, rather than actively adjust for changes in temperature, this system mutes them. For example, where a normal hairspring might demonstrate varying degrees of elasticity (and thereby subtly differing oscillation rates) on the wrist on a warm day, vs. sitting on a bedside table, the basic premise of TwinSpir is to create a more consistently stable hairspring that’s largely immune from these thermoelastic variances regardless of the watch’s ambient temperatures. Furthermore, as the hairspring expands and contracts through its normal oscillations, the layered structure is designed to create a perfectly even and more consistent oscillation, eliminating any subtle irregularities in elasticity (or “elastic anisotropies”) that would also adversely affect the chronometric rate – a known performance trait exhibited by many traditional hairsprings.
The end result? Well, in theory, a more even, predictably stable chronometric performance and greater long-term accuracy. Granted, we’ll have to withhold judgement until we’ve tested one in the real world. But for now, it’s interesting to watch as more and more brands move away from Nivarox (and by extension, the Swatch Group), instead choosing to develop proprietary technologies as a means to compete. Despite being the oldest adage in the book, it’s also the most interesting expression to witness firsthand – innovate or die, right?
Racing would ensue, the thunder of pistons bashing off as the riders trapped back their throttles in the beginning line, hammering their brakes a 1/4 mile afterwards, then ripping through the gears again back to where they’d started from. A blend of drag racing and barrel racing; every rider would begin in neutral with their left hand on their own helmet, and when the flag dropped, they would shift to gear, race down to the barrel, whip a u-turn and return-to-home as fast as they had left it, while riding side by side with their competitor.In between all of the racing would be simple, lively, peg dragging 3 hour joy ride beginning along HWY 101 afterward into Templeton, Paso Robles, along with Big Sur.The weekend would be about the Clifton Club collection of watches and, later in the weekend, the unveiling of this Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition. I was excited about trying out this set as I had to get some hands-on time with those watches. I am a sucker for daily use divers, so my very first watch of this weekend was that the stainless steel Clifton Club with a sunburst satin-finished blue dial, strapped into a textured orange rubber NATO. The daring color combination was fitting to the coastal town setting as it reminds me of the ocean and the sun reflecting off the water’s surface. The rubber NATO was a great bit as it felt like a mini hi-viz wetsuit round my wrist and it was surprisingly comfortable, as the material would provide a little during small vibrations and impacts with continual wear. The 42mm case dimensions and the 10.3millimeter thickness fit snugly round my 7.25 inch wrist, fitting comfortably under my riding gloves through long kilometers and hours of street vibrations. The Sellita SW200 movement isn’t glamorous, but it’s reliable and with the road vibrations being exposed to it over this weekend, so I wouldn’t have wanted it to become an in-house, handmade marvel.
In addition to the special hairspring, the 18-jeweled, hand-cranked BM12-1975M movement itself hums along at a familiar 4Hz over the course of its generous power reserve of around 90 hours. Nicely finished with deep Geneva stripes, blued screws, and circular graining all visible beneath the exhibition caseback, the movement itself is also adjusted in five positions for accuracy.
The 18k red gold case of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Manual 1830 watch is 42mm wide and 8.9mm thin, with a water-resistance rating of 50m, and it comes on a black aligator strap. The reference M0A10359 Baume & Mercier Clifton Manual 1830 is available now, though it’s being produced in very limited quantities, apparently only sold in Europe, and is retailing for a price of $12,045. baume-et-mercier.com