Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September 2015

Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September 2015

Postby Mortuus » September 9th 2015, 2:31am

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Okay, so the last two MMMMM’s took a big, wet bite out of my energy ass, and I’m sitting here at the keyboard, still tired, and the end of August is swimming past me like Conjurer after case of Ensure,® so I figured I needed to just bow to the inevitable and skip it. I mean, heck, every month can’t feature a damned novella, right? And we all know that August weather – at least in the northern hemisphere – drains you worse than excessive jerking off in a French penile, er, penal colony. Just ask Monsieur Papillon or Motorboat Mikey.

Anyhow, if y’all don’t mind, I’d like to keep this month’s screed a bit more controlled, as well as lower in the word count department. In support of this plan is my relatively simple – but still very much-loved – choice for this month’s moldy masterpiece, a wonderful old Baume & Mercier Baumatic, with date and seconds hand functions. This one is truly a beautiful example of the classic, thin Swiss dress watch, one that I’m in danger of using too many adjectives too early in this piece, so I’d better show you some pictures before I trudge off to the world of Run-On Sentence Land with my Alpine hiking boots and soft old trilby. (Damn, where is that Burberry’s scarf? If I don’t find it and actually wear it, the cheap bastards won’t give me a product placement fee…)

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Let me say right up front that I picked this up from a seller I don’t know in a town I’d never been to before, so I’ve no idea who it belonged to and am thus not required to write a long, parallel narrative. Not that I mind writing them, you see, but they do take some time, and time is not a luxury you possess when you’re dead and you’ve already skipped a month. And there goes the word count, Mort. Can’t you stick to talking about the watch? Of course I can, you smug little voice-in-my-head that sounds suspiciously like my aunt Sophie…I was just pointing out that I don’t have a lot of personal information about the watch, okay? (Jeez…that old gobbler of a woman’s gonna kill me one of these days…oh, wait. She did. But that’s another story for another time. Or not.)

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Let’s have a look at what technical details Olde Morte was able to dig up, shall we? Why, yes, let’s do


Technical Information

Brand: Baume & Mercier (or Baume et Mercier, for those of you who have never been to Rio Lindo)
Model: Baumatic
Model Year: 1960
Year Built: Circa 1961-62
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Movement: BM 12800, 30-jewel automatic with micro-rotor, date function
Case Material: 14k Yellow Gold
Case Measurements: Width – 34mm; Lug to Lug – 40mm; Thickness – 7mm
Case Back: 14k Yellow Gold
Crystal: acrylic Glass
Dial: Textured 18k Yellow Gold
Hands: Blued steel, stick type
Hour Markers: Mini-baton; double batons at six, nine and twelve o’clock
Misc: Date window at three o’clock

Appearance

Alright, without getting too wordy here, we’re talking about a watch that is truly exquisite looking. The beautifully thin case looks amazing on the wrist, especially with the extraordinary – and also superbly thin – lizard strap I selected. There’s just something about a thin, dark mahogany lizard (or even a plain, matte leather in the same color) strap with a gold watch that creates a matchless pairing.

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The dial is an amazing creation, with a four-way texturing that gives it a linen-meets-meteorite effect. As can be seen in the above photo – one of my “dumb-luckiest” to date, I have to admit – it features both an x-style scoring, as well as an up-and-down, or cross-application that gives it an incredible depth, so much so that it is often very difficult to make out the small, black figures that spell out the Baume & Mercier name, logo and model (not to mention the extremely diminutive SWISS MADE notation just below the six o’clock hour marker).

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Okay, so I have a confession to make: I’m not – or at least I wasn’t until very recently – a big fan of blue hands on a watch. Why’s that, Mort? you ask. The answer is simple: Larry Megan. Yep, back in my ShopNBC days, it seems like every time old “Dracula hair” got on TV, he seemed sickeningly compelled – perhaps by those voices and their supposedly right choices? – to mention Louis Breguet and his blued watch hands, as “homaged” [read: plagiarized] by the good folks at Stuhrling Original. I can still vividly recall old Leisure Suit Larry and his tired recitation of the Abraham-Louis Breguet story:

“Jim, these blued hands are an homage to a gentleman named Louis Breguet, who discovered the process of bluing steel. No one could blow, er, blue steel like old Louis. We honor this contribution with the Stuhrling Original Horological Hyperbole Homage, and its beautiful blued hands and movement screws.”

After listening to the same story a half-dozen times, you get pretty sick of it; in my case, sick enough of it that, try as I might, I couldn’t stand the sight of blued watch hands, even on superb quality watches like the Baumatic. But at some point I realized that the inclusion of blued hands on a top quality watch had nothing to do with the Larry Megan’s twisted version of the horological universe. And they’re not “homages” to anything, but rather very attractive additions to a superlative design, especially when they show up as part of a vintage piece like this one.

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Engineering

This, of course, is not my first foray into engineering authorship vis-à-vis a micro rotor-equipped vintage watch. I was wondering about this stuff as far back as the day I began collecting vintage watches. My main question: do these small rotors do as much work – and thereby store as much kinetic energy – as their full-sized rotor counterparts? A year ago – that’s right, a year since the MMMMotM began circulating, can you believe it? – here’s what I had to say about my Bulova Ambassador, my first micro rotor-powered acquisition:

“In a completely and totally unscientific test conducted by Yours Truly [The Dead Guy], I ‘charged’ the mainspring of a ‘conventional’ vintage movement, using regular arm motions over a 12-hour period. The resulting ‘power reserve’ lasted for approximately 11 hours and 37 minutes. I then repeated this procedure using the Ambassador, and the result was 12 hours and 4 minutes, or a delta of 27 minutes between the two watches. I repeated the same procedure two more times, and in both cases, the delta remained less than 30 minutes. My completely unscientific conclusion was that the ‘micro-rotor’ was doing just as much work (and thus storing roughly the same amount of kinetic energy) as the conventional rotor. Now, does this experiment really prove anything? No, not really, but I felt all “sciency” and shit while I was conducting my little study, and that feeling is priceless to an old Political Science (AKA Poly Sigh) major like me…”*

* Praesepultus, Mortuus, “Mort’s Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September 2014,” ©2014 Mortuus Aviation.

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I did do a bit of experimentation along the same lines as a year ago, and was pleased to see almost the exact same results. And they say we Poly Sigh Majors don’t have our sh—er, um sciences together. Even just looking at how well it kept up with Zulu (and other convenient time periods) the watch shed around 11-12 seconds a day, which isn’t too shabby, what with its 50+ years of age. So given its own manner of running, it does a far more than show a mere “passable” ability to tell the time; its accuracy is truly amazing.

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It operates in a smooth, steady manner, very much like its Bulova counterpart, once more proving the efficacy of the micro rotor, and allowing for some of the thinnest automatic dress watches of the period. The date is changed via what was then considered a “quick set” feature (that’s “advancing the minute hand from 9 PM to 3 AM and then back again until the date is set” for those of you in Rio Lindo).

Once I got it home and into the hands of my watchmaker, I was extremely pleased to find out that it had been regularly serviced, something I’m rather a stickler about when it comes to my “moldy machines,” AKA vintage watches. And while it’s very true that this can get to be a bit on the expensive side, I can assure you that, in the case of this beautiful watch, it’s well, well worth every penny.

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Summary

This is one of those “milestone” watches for me as a vintage watch collector, one that all others in my collection of oldies are often compared against. As such, it falls into the same class as my Rolex Air King, any of my numerous Omega’s, my Citizen Auto Daters and my King & Grand Seiko’s. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy any of my other aged analogs any less – banish that thought immediately, and go wash your mental mouth out with soap – but rather, these are the pieces I take the most joy in wearing because they have a look, feel and operation that sets them apart from any would-be peers. And that, as the silly credit card ad used to tell us, is priceless.

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This presentation is dedicated to the memory of LCDR Otis V. “Vince” Tolbert, my dear friend, a loving husband and father, a truly superb USN professional, and a fallen hero of the United States of America who gave his life for her on 11 September 2001. Missing him is like a wound that won’t heal, a deep pain that never recedes. Rest in peace, my dear Brother Warrior.

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Thank you for stopping by, my unseen – but nonetheless truly genuine – friends.


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Mortuus Praesepultus, Rancho Santa Fe, CA, 8 September 2015
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby biglove » September 9th 2015, 4:35am

Excellent work, Mort!

I like that dial, more so with every photo; but, that movement. That movement is just soul stirring!

As 9/11 approaches, you are more frequently in my thoughts. Love that you used this month's watch write up to remind us of your lost friend.

Peace be with you.
"Adults are obsolete children."-Dr. Seuss
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby Mortuus » September 9th 2015, 10:49am

Muchas gracias, el Loafo Grande! 8-)
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby conjurer » September 9th 2015, 11:04am

That was a nice fucking review, Mort.
Johannes! My knees are trembling from banging her so hard with my rod!

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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby Mortuus » September 9th 2015, 11:12am

Thanks, John! High praise indeed from a man who farts dust! :mrgreen:
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby jb182 » September 10th 2015, 4:23pm

Truly a beautiful watch.
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby artman » September 10th 2015, 5:01pm

Thanks for sharing Mort! I really enjoy your write ups.
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby Mortuus » September 11th 2015, 8:53pm

jb182 wrote:Truly a beautiful watch.

Many thanks, jb! 8-)
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Re: Mort's Moldy Mechanical Machine of the Month: September

Postby Mortuus » September 11th 2015, 8:55pm

artman wrote:Thanks for sharing Mort! I really enjoy your write ups.

Thanks, Arty! Your bon mots are truly appreciated... 8-)
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