It might be slightly unfair to see a watch brand as the gateway drug to greater indulgences but the recent slump in the global market found many top-tier brands and holding companies clambering for fresh ideas. Ladies and young gentlemen may I introduce you to ‘accessible’ or ‘affordable’ luxury. 

In the pecking order of things, Baume & Mercier have no illusions of sitting on the top perch with some of their Richemont stablemates but they are making some damn fine and affordable new pieces, which are shifting at least some of the attention away from smart devices to the smart, mechanical gadgets of the luxury watchmaking world.

An example is the Clifton Club range of contemporary classic, sports watches from Baume & Mercier. Appealing to Millennials in the hope of regenerating the brand, the company emphasises that the positioning is not about the competitive aspect of sport but rather the more fun, lifestyle side and the spirit of gathering around sports.

The brand has been around since 1830 and associations have generally been more classic and a little more traditional. However, one only has to look back a few decades to their Riviera and Formula S models to see that sport has been part of the brand’s heritage.

For what the company describes as the “gentlesportsman”, this collection will appeal to the young, active urbanite and also to the pocket — the five core models launching at between R25000 and R30000 — with their pared-down, function-first aesthetic expresses the notion of ‘mens sana in corpore sano’, Latin for ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.

With their diver’s watch styling they are perfect for all-terrain lifestyles, featuring rotating bezel, and screw down crown buttressed snuggly between horn-to-horn bevel detail. They are powered by Swiss-made automatic Sellita SW200 movements with date function and have been tested for shock resistance to 550G and are water-resistant to 100m. With a 42mm dial it is available in five versions so you can accessories your lifestyle in satin-finished stainless steel with white or black dials on calfskin (with sail-weave embossed pattern) or on steel bracelets with black or blue dials. The fifth is a black-on-black ADLC steel case on vulcanized rubber strap. A distinctive feature of the Club range is the company’s Phi logo featuring boldly at 12 o’clock and on the crown.

Clifton Club Shelby Cobra
Clifton Club Shelby Cobra

For a little more exclusivity — at only three times the price — there is the limited edition 44mm Clifton Club Shelby® Cobra 10344. Powered by a self-winding La Joux-Perret 8147-2 movement with flyback chronograph function, it is limited to 196 pieces that reflects the top speed (in mph) of the iconic race car. Its racing links are further presented in the satin-finished dial, half blue and half silver, red chronograph hand with Cobra logo, tachymeter scale and calfskin strap embossed with a carbon-like pattern. On the back, an open sapphire crystal case is designed to look like the coupe’s iconic wheels.

Baume & Mercier or RGL Africa 0113172600

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