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Baume & Mercier used to make some really beautiful chronographs in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Then, they just kinda stopped. But, in this Week on the Wrist review, Jason Heaton makes a convincing argument for Baume's latest flagship chrono, the Capeland Flyback, and says this may be a brand reborn. In fact, our very own dive-watch expert almost sounds like a man converted. For Jason's excellent feature review of Baume & Mercier's awesome new Capeland Flyback chronograph, read on - you might be surprised by this one.
After years of languishing as the often overlooked little brother in la famlia de Richemont, Baume & Mercier is coming back. Flying back, you might say. Leading the return to the company's former glory is a new flagship model, the Capeland Flyback Chronograph, reference 10006. This is a replica watch that merits more than a passing glance and, even for a self-confessed dive replica watch junkie, was one I didn't want to send back after a week on my wrist.
The Very Best Of Baume, Born Again
In 2011, Baume et Mercier gave the Capeland series a badly-needed reboot and the company looked to its past for inspiration, drawing from classic designs from the '40s and '50s. While the standard Capeland chronograph is handsome enough, the Flyback Chronograph is a near-perfect marriage of retro design cues with modern size and build. The replica watch 's beauty is more than skin deep however, with a beautifully decorated unique flyback chronograph movement by La Joux-Perret. The whole package is bewitching to wear, use and look at and drew more comments from people than any other replica watch I've worn in recent memory.
Vintage Looks, Modern Wearability
A chronograph is the primal essence of the mechanical art of horology, and interacting with a mechanical chronograph movement is a pleasure that surpasses spinning a dive replica watch bezel or watching a perpetual calendar click over the date. But with so many of the modern chronographs being based around the same movement, collectors often look to the great vintage pieces of the '50s and '60s for variety and uniqueness. But vintage chronographs have their shortcomings as well. They're often small and lack the water resistance and robustness to use as daily wear pieces. The Capeland manages to solve this conundrum by balancing the aesthetics and interesting movement of a vintage piece with modern size and durable build.
At 44mm across, the Capeland is no trembling flower. But it wears surprisingly well thanks to short, sloping lugs. Chronographs are rarely thin and this one is no exception at 16.5mm high. But much of the case thickness is due to the high domed crystal which lends to the vintage appearance while providing the scratch resistance of modern sapphire. The case has seductively rounded flanks that flow without break into the lugs. The beveled bezel is mirror polished while the sides are matte brushed.
The Capeland's crown and chronograph pushers are beautifully-designed and they suit the rest of this replica watch perfectly. The crown is oversized like so many vintage chronographs and slightly domed, signed with the Baume et Mercier "phi" symbol. One almost wishes this replica watch wasn't self-winding so the crown would be of more use, like the vintage chronographs it references. The pushers are pump-style and slightly domed, with a slight dimple around their circumference. The result is near aesthetic perfection and tactile pleasure.
The replica watch that inspired the Capeland Flyback was a 1948 mono-pusher chronograph and the dial of the ref. 10006 is faithful to its ancestor. The white dial (a black option is on the way for 2012) features an outer telemeter scale and three inner tachymeter scales overlaid with the bi-compax chronograph subdials. The overall effect is surprisingly legible and again lends to the vintage appearance. Blued steel Breguet hands and a complete lack of luminescent paint maintain the overall aesthetic. In fact, the only design flaw is the awkward date window placement at 4:30. This is a replica watch that could easily do without a date complication.
An Uncommon Twist On A Common Caliber
Turning the Capeland over does not disappoint, with a sapphire caseback giving view to the movement. The La Joux-Perret calibre 8147-2, a nice twist on the ubiquitous ETA 7750, is beautifully decorated with perlage, Geneva stripes and blued screws and the open-worked oscillating rotor bears the Baume et Mercier Phi symbol once again. The movement, while bearing the familiar 7750 winding wobble and firm pusher response, sets itself apart due to the addition of the flyback complication. A flyback is perhaps a more useful chronograph complication than the flashier rattrapante in that it allows the user to instantly reset and restart the stopwatch with a single push of the lower button. It is actually quite addictive to play with this feature, watching the sweep seconds and minute counter snap back to zero and immediately start ticking again.
A Lasting Impression
The overall impression of the Capeland Flyback Chronograph is that Baume et Mercier pulled out all the stops and nailed it perfectly. It is dressy and sporty, vintage and modern, all at the same time and has the movement chops to appeal even to complication aficionados. Down to its alligator strap and elegant signed buckle, it is a replica watch that oozes quality in all respects and represents a fine comeback for the company and, we hope, heralds more great replica watches to come.
Pros & Cons
What You Need To Know
Baume & Mercier Capeland Flyback Chronograph (Steel)
Automatic manufacture movement, La Joux-Perret 8147-2