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The Sporting Time

Swiss sports watches are high-performance timepieces

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Offering its own tribute to the active life, the 170-year-old Geneva-based Baume & Mercier is celebrating the turning of the century with the CapeLand line. This recently introduced collection is billed as "an invitation to roam the world with resolute and relaxed" timepieces, and in pursuit of that rugged yet refined lifestyle, the company is showcasing several models, including a quartz version.  
Appropriate for casual or business situations, each $2,350 CapeLand in the line has a large round case, a curved, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a screw-down fluted crown that makes the watch water-resistant to 100 meters. The Arabic-numeraled dials are either a finely circular-engraved silver or jet black. The automatic chronograph has a 7750 Valjoux movement that offers a 40-hour power reserve and a distinctively detailed egg-shaped small-seconds counter. The watch features a chic 39-millimeter black dial on a honey-brown strap.  
"CapeLand is the high-performance watch for anyone who's seeking new experiences," says Thomas Van der Kallen, the president of Baume & Mercier North America. "Its strong personality stands out."  
The sumptuousness of these chronographs is further accented in two new limited-edition versions, both of which are made with a 25-ruby, BM 13750 movement. One 99-piece series is in white gold, the other in pink gold, while both versions are "harmonized" with a black, saddle-stitched alligator strap and are numbered with a year of the twentieth century. Numerical markings, however, aren't the only distinguishing characteristics. Attesting to this legendary firm's love of detail (each limited-edition piece, which retails for $11,500, takes about a year to produce), the finishing is particularly fine, with the white-gold rotor and all the movement's visible surfaces embellished with a Côtes de Genevé pattern. Wearers of this automatic winding mechanical can view these refinements through a sapphire crystal back. Stressing CapeLand's unique appeal, the dial flaunts gold hour and minute hands, broad two-sided hour markers, and an engraved guilloche tapestry pattern.  
If limited-edition chronographs are the perfect accessories for the new millennium, retro-inspired quartz Hamptons, Classima chronos and other Baume & Mercier creations offer fashionable alternatives.  
"The CapeLand chronograph is particularly attractive, since most watches with a 7750 Valjoux movement go for $4,000," says Jonathan Hochman of Altier Jewelers in Boca Raton, Florida. "The entire CapeLand collection, with their generous-sized cases, is very affordable, masculine-looking and contemporary. But they're not the only sports watches that perform beautifully. All of Baume & Mercier's timepieces uphold the finest traditions of Swiss watchmaking."    
Florida-based Edward Kiersh frequently writes about watches for Cigar Aficionado.
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