With the Clifton Club Indian Tribute series, Baume & Mercier reminds us grit and passion can conquer all.
He was 68 years old, riding a 47-year-old motorcycle, when racing legend Burt Munro set the speed record of 184.08m/h (296.25km/h) in the under 1,000cc class. The year was 1967, and the record still stands. The bike Munro was on was equally remarkable — a 1920 Indian Scout he had modified heavily over the decades, dramatically bumping up its top speed from the original 55m/h.
Asked if he was afraid of dying in a crash, Munro famously replied, “No, you live more in five minutes on a bike like that, going flat out, than some people in a lifetime.”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the speed record — and to remind us that anything is possible with enough grit and determination — Baume & Mercier collaborated with the US-based Indian Motorcycle Company. The result, officially launched at SIHH 2018, is a self-winding chronograph that captures the story of the legend and his bike.
Called the Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro Tribute Limited Edition, the most prominent décor on the watch is the number 35, located at 9 o’clock in the second counter — 35 was Munro’s lucky number. The dial is silver-coloured with a sandblasted finish, mimicking the surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where the record was set. The watch also features a tachymeter scale on the bezel with the speed record, 184m/h, highlighted on it. Furthermore, the counterweight of the chronograph seconds hand is shaped like the Indian “I”, the calfskin strap is in the signature “Indian Red” shade, while the case back sports the motorcycle company’s famous Headdress logo. Only 1,967 pieces will be made.
“You live more in five minutes on a bike like that, going flat out, than some people in a lifetime.”
The watchmaker also showcased two more watches in the Clifton Club Indian Legend Tribute series at SIHH — the Scout and the Chief. The former pays homage to the famous lightweight Indian Scout model livery, while the latter is inspired by the heavyweight Chief model powered by the Indian’s ThunderStroke 111 V-twin engine. The watches will be limited to 1,901 pieces each, referencing the year the Indian Motorcycle Company was founded. They are powered by the self-winding Valjoux 7750 calibre that offers a 48-hour power reserve.
On the Scout, the date disc displays “1901”, the chronograph counters have been designed to recall the speedometer, and the open-worked opaline grey with black snailed counters represents the livery shade of the Scout models. Meanwhile, the brown leather strap reflects the colour of the bike’s seat and is produced by Horween Leather Company, which is renowned for crafting calfskin straps that develop character and patina over time.
Clifton Club Indian Burt Munro Tribute 1967-Piece Ltd Edition Movement
Valjoux 7750, 48-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph Functions: H/M/S, Chronograph, Tachymeter, Date Case: 44mm, polished stainless steel, free crown, fixed bezel in polished steel-adlc with tachymeter scale engraved, flat antiglare (1 face) scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, Screw-down full case back engraved with Indian Motorcycle logo Engraving: “Limited Edition, one out of 1967”
Similarly, the Chief model features a variety of signature elements from Indian’s design, including the red chronograph second hand that features the Indian “I”, the date disc with the “1901” mention, and the case back with the Headdress logo. Here, however, leather gives way to a three-row polished and satin-finished stainless steel bracelet.
Another exciting — and path-breaking — development from Baume & Mercier has been the launch of its in-house BM12-1975A movement. Called the Baumatic, the brand claims it is a revolutionary mechanical self-winding calibre “endowed with the most advanced watch technology available today”. And the specs are certainly impressive — 120-hour power reserve, accuracy of -4/+6 seconds/day that remains stable even as the power reserve dwindles, and resistance to magnetism that is reportedly 25 times higher than the current norm. The magic here is the silicon used for the hairspring, anchor and the escape wheel. Baume & Mercier calls it Twinspir technology — the hairspring is a composite structure that combines two cores of silicon, alternately set at a 45-degree angle and bound by a silicon dioxide layer. This setup reportedly also ensures thermocompensation.
All this is further complemented by the PowerScape tech deployed in a new high-performance escapement — the anchor and the escape wheel use a “highly unusual” geometry to drastically reduce losses from friction, while also improving torque transmission between the components and delivering 30 per cent higher autonomy.
These innovations have been put to work in the new Clifton Baumatic series, available in four classic designs and a COSC-certified chronometer.
Watchmakers start the year with a bang at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.