The title couldn’t have been more corny, I’ll admit. However, this watch is being smart for different reasons. One of them is that it is a great first mechanical watch for those who just get started with watches and don’t want to blow a lot of money on a watch (yet). One of the other reasons is that it looks great, especially when worn with a suit or at least a bit more formal outfit.
That’s exactly what Baume & Mercier is aiming for with their new range of Classima models that they introduced last January in Geneva. Affordable good-looking watches for men and women, most probably in their twenties and just started their career and make some money. Perhaps this is what a lot of watch brands are aiming for these days, but Baume & Mercier managed to keep the price of a mechanical men’s watch just below € 2000,- Euro. That is more or less the starter’s salary here in The Netherlands for people from University, so it makes sense. I assume Baume & Mercier thought about this as well.
In this particular price range, it is getting more difficult each year to find a watch from one of the big brands. This also includes Baume & Mercier to be honest, as they used to be in this price range with most of their watches but did some upscaling as IWC left their € 3000 – € 4000 Euro price range since a couple of years. But still, Baume & Mercier is able to offer something nice below € 2000 Euro. Kudos for that. It is an important price range, something we also learned from our survey last year. The lack of attractive watches below € 2000 Euro is probably also the reason for brands like Seiko to flourish there or what to think of the vintage market and all the new micro brands. Just sayin’.
In any case, Baume & Mercier is together with Longines, Oris, Maurice Lacroix and a couple of other big names still present for the aforementioned target audience.
Baume & Mercier Classima
The Classima line-up is not new, but Baume & Mercier updated the collection to address a younger group of potential customers. One of the updates was a smaller case (from 42mm to 40mm) to create a more elegant looking watch and still suitable for everyone. Also, the watches received a mechanical movement (based on the Sellita SW200) and a transparent case back. For ladies, Baume & Mercier came up with a new 36.5mm diameter sized line-up of Classima watches (mechanical and quartz).
If we focus on the men’s watches, there are four new Classima models for men. The differences are mainly in the use of materials. A stainless steel watch with either a stainless steel bracelet or a leather strap (see above), or a bi-color watch with either a bi-color bracelet or strap. The bi-color trend is something I’ve also saw at other brands lately. Although it might remind some people of the poor taste of the 1980s, the current bi-color watches from Baume & Mercier (and others) are much more toned-down than the stuff we used to see back then.
The dial of the Baume & Mercier Classima is a real treat, with its beautiful lines and guilloché finish in the center. The stainless steel versions of the Classima have blued hands for some great contrast and the bi-color models have gilt hands to match the design and colors of the case (and bracelet if applicable). The dials have wonderful hour markers, Roman numerals at 12, 6, 3 and 9 o’clock and stick markers on the others.
As said, the mechanical movements are based on Sellita SW 200 calibers have have a decorated rotor showing the emblematic Greek ‘Phi’, the Baume & Mercier logo and the symbol of the ‘golden ratio’. The rest of the movement looks pretty standard Sellita work to me, but remember that those are the differences between the entry-level models of a brand and the more expensive models (Clifton for instance). The Classima was designed with a clear goal, create an interesting mechanical timepiece with a specific price tag. The movement is actually the only part I can be critical about, as the rest of the watch looks stunning and worth every penny. Also, rest assured that there are quite a bit of brands out there that sell more expensive pieces with a less nicer finished rotor (and no nice optical finish on the movement itself), with a solid case back.