The newer Baume & Mercier Capeland watch is not new for 2012 as it originally came out a year or two ago. I covered some of the 2011 Capeland models here. For 2012, Baume & Mercier extended the collection with new colors, and I got a nice hands-on look at the collection. It goes without saying if you have seen both of these articles that the Capeland is a rather photogenic timepiece.
Perusing Baume & Mercier's website you'll find at least 15 versions of the new Capeland available. This is because the case comes in both 42mm and 44mm wide version, with two different dials styles, and two different movements. Plus, many versions of the Capeland come with a few dial color choices and on a strap or metal bracelet. Really a lot of Capelandian options.
The flagship model for 2012 is the Capeland reference 10068. This version of the watch has the larger 44mm wide case (in steel), with the more retro of the two dials, and the bi-compax flyback chronograph movement. While the case is steel, the hands are gold toned over the black and white dial. It makes for a really attractive look, making you ask yourself "is this just a really fashionable watch or a healthy execution of a tool watch?"
This "more retro" style dial with Breguet style numerals and pomme hands only comes in the 44mm wide case I believe. The other dial version comes in both 44mm wide and 42mm wide cases. Though I think only the 42mm wide version is available with the steel bracelet. Color choices are plentiful. There are more classic black and white tones, as well as a healthy assortment of metallic blues, silvers, and browns.
Baume & Mercier chose these retro designs for the Capeland models for a good reason. First, the designs more or less existed and only needed to be adapted. This meant that hand proportions, indicators, and other tricky dial elements were already conceived and perfected on plenty of older watches. All Baume & Mercier needed to do was make them work for their new Capeland collection. Second, the designs are familiar feelings. While many of us like to experiment and tread new ground with unique and novel designs, most consumers prefer to buy products with designs and uses they recognize and are familiar with. This is the horological analog of comfort food - which Baume & Mercier is nicely plating up.
The three register chronographs have base Swiss ETA automatic chronograph movements that Baume & Mercier nicely decorates. They do a good job at presenting the movements in their fullest glory. The bi-compax chronograph has the same movements, but those which have been modified by La Joux-Perret. The modification removes the 12 hour chronograph dial and adds a flyback complication. Fantastic, because I know how excited you are that each dial style has both a telemeter and tachymeter scale.
On the wrist, these Baume & Mercier Capeland models are comfortable and easily attractive. While not the most original models in the world, they don't need to be justified to anyone. Detailing is very good and the case construction is solid. I like some of the little details such as the relief logo on the crown, and the style of the chronograph pushers. You get the feeling that Baume & Mercier really wanted to create a global retro sport watch with the newer Capeland collection, which they do pretty well. Plus, I think they did an admirable job offering a lot of color choices for all types of consumers.
While Baume & Mercier continues its modern quest for an image and direction, they are still at least producing good quality relatively affordable Swiss watches. The Capeland collection is in the $4,000 range, which while not actually cheap, is still a number that the brand's target demographic is more than comfortable with. More details on the Capeland here @ Baume & Mercier.