Baume & Mercier
Baume & Mercier (Est. 1830 – ) According to the Baume & Mercier website, the company story began in 1830 when brothers Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume decided to establish a family business. To this end, they opened a comptoir horloger (watch dealership) in Les Bois, a village in the Swiss Jura.
The dealership they founded was called, “Frères Baume.” By the end of the 19th century, the company had an established international reputation and its timepieces set accuracy records that won a number of timekeeping competitions.
Always loyal to their motto, “Accept only perfection, only manufacture watches of the highest quality”, the company experienced rapid growth. Recognized as a true visionary, Louis-Victor intuitively sensed women’s interest in watchmaking. He gave his daughter Mélina her first gold pocket-watch in 1869.
The company’s first international foray occurred in 1921 when they established a London branch naming it, Baume Brothers. This led to further expansion throughout the British Empire that included India, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Burma.
During this period, the brand was known for chronographs and grand complication models that included minute repeaters, calendars, and tourbillons. The quality of these instruments garnered ten Grand Prix awards and seven gold medals at international exhibitions and shows in Paris, Melbourne, Zurich, London, Amsterdam and Chicago.
The company says of the timepieces crafted during this era, “As well as being beautiful and highly complex, Baume watches also demonstrated a rare degree of precision. They set accuracy records and won various timekeeping competitions, particularly the precision timing trials held by the Kew Observatory near London. In 1892, Baume won the latter competition with a chronometer pocket-watch equipped with a tourbillon movement of which the precision was to remain unmatched for over ten years.”
In 1918, company director William Baume partnered with Paul Mercier to establish Baume & Mercier in Geneva. The firm began to specialize in manufacturing wristwatches with unconventional shapes that excluded the traditional round form. In 1919, Baume & Mercier received the coveted Geneva Seal which, at the time, was the highest international distinction for watchmaking excellence.
Paul Mercier recognized how profoundly times were changing and embraced women’s emancipation as “an unquenchable source of inspiration.” In the 1940s, Baume & Mercier launched one of its most successful models: the Marquise. This jewelry-watch that nestled inside a bangle-style bracelet was both attractive and practical.
In short order, Baume & Mercier launched several creative and modern women’s watches. It was among the first watchmaking companies to demonstrate that timepieces for women were not merely miniaturized and simplistic interpretations of masculine models. Femininity, already an integral part of the Baume & Mercier brand, capitalized on the models’ successes.
In the 1970s, Baume & Mercier introduced shaped timepieces that included the Galaxie and Stardust models. In 1973, Baume & Mercier presented the Riviera, one of the world’s first steel sports watches.
From the Art Deco period onward, the brand promoted style that left an enduring imprint in the field of watch design. Among its most famous was the Hampton Collection that was inspired by a rectangular watch that first appeared in the 1940s. This urban watch kept step with the life’s many special moments and emphasized that there is art in living.
The company uses another motto included in their mission statement: “Life is about moments.” Baume & Mercier continues to design watches that can accompany an individual throughout the various stages of their life.
During the 1950s and 60s, the company pursued the equilibrium symbolized by the Greek letter (Phi) – the current Baume & Mercier logo – and laid the foundation for what is now considered the standard round watch. These luxury timepieces were equipped with functions such as moon phases and/or triple date displays, as well as a more modest collection of round watches with simple designs and pared-down dials.
These Golden Fifties watches enabled the brand to return to its roots and offer collections such as Capeland and Classima, as well as the recently introduced Clifton line.
Baume & Mercier currently offers five collections: Hampton, shaped watches intended for both men and women; Capeland, for chronographs and Worldtimer watches; Classima for those with a penchant for minimalist design; Linea for elegant and dynamic women; and the Clifton collection marketed to urbanites who want a classic yet contemporary timepiece.
Baume & Mercier celebrity ambassadors include Gwyneth Paltrow, Andy Garcia, Gary Sinise, Ashton Kutcher, David Duchovny, Teri Hatcher, Kim Basinger, and Kiefer Sutherland. The “Baume & Mercier & Me” celebrity endorsement campaign has been used to raise money for charity.
To commemorate and express his appreciation for the perfect game he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies on May 29, 2010, Roy Halladay purchased 60 personalized Riviera Sport 8724 Chronographs for each of his teammates, the entire coaching staff, and all clubhouse personnel.
In April 2015, Ariel Adams, a ForbesLife contributor and founder and editor of the watch review site aBlogtoWatch.com, reported that “Baume & Mercier entered into a new partnership with the American race car maker Shelby (named for the late Carroll Shelby) [who] became famous for the Shelby Cobra and various high performance modifications to the Ford Mustang.
“To begin their relationship, Baume & Mercier has released a pair of limited edition watches known as the Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra that will come in either steel or 18k red gold.”
Proud of its Swiss-made label, the company designs and develops timepieces in its in-house Design Studio at the Baume & Mercier head office near Geneva. It assembles all watches in its Watch Workshops at Les Brenets in the heart of the Swiss Jura.
Each watch made by the Watch Workshop in Les Brenets undergoes a series of visual and aesthetic checks throughout the manufacturing process. In the final quality control process, each finished timepiece undergoes a final, meticulous check before being sent to an approved retailer.
With an average selling price of between USD $2,000 and $5,000, Baume & Mercier watches are in the mid-range luxury watch market segment. Since 1988, the firm has been a subsidiary of the Swiss luxury conglomerate Richemont.