Thursday, 23 January 2014

SIHH 2014: Introducing the Baume & Mercier Clifton Flying Tourbillon, an entry-level tourbillon with a lot of IWC inside (with specs and price)

Baume & Mercier has just unveiled the Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon, an entry-level tourbillon which paradoxically is the brand's top-of-the-line timepiece. Inside is a movement made by ValFleurier, but actually an IWC calibre.

A long time ago, in 1892 to be exact, Baume & Mercier won the timing trial at the Kew Observatory in London with a tourbillon pocket watch. Equipped with a movement from IWC, the new Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon attempts to evoke some of that past glory.

Limited to 30 pieces in a large 45.5 mm red gold case, the Clifton tourbillon uses the ValFleurier P591 movement, hand-wound with a 50 hour power reserve. But that is actually the cal. 98900 from IWC, which it uses in the Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound. This is not the first time Baume & Mercier has borrowed this calibre from IWC, the William Baume tourbillon from a few years back used the same calibre.

ValFleurier is a secretive enterprise owned by Richemont which develops and makes movements for the group, which includes Baume & Mercier and IWC. That creates vast economies of scale and explains the uncanny similarity in movements and technical characteristics in products across several Richemont brands.

IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound

The Clifton Flying Tourbillon retails for US$59,000, very slightly less than the US$62,100 retail of the IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound in the same metal. So it is entry-level, but not that much of a bargain, relatively speaking.

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