Baume&Mercier Swiss Watches Complete Guide-Review
Baume&Mercier joins the ranks of such prestige luxury Swiss names as Longines and Raymond Weil, offering its own blend of horological heritage and classic watch design. Established in 1830, Baume and Mercier specialized in manufacturing pocket clocks for almost a century, until changing their focus towards wrist watches.
During the first half of the 20th century the brand produced highly creative couture designs often decorated with diamonds and gold – a trend that continues in today's collections as well. Next phase marked a turn from jewelry towards pure horology: automatic timepieces equipped with moon phase, calendar, and chronograph complications.
Modern Baume&Mercier presents a mature, assured watchmaking amalgam of complication with high-fashion and jewelry. Robust sports timers from the Riviera line expand the company's selection further, reaching into luxury marine, diving, and racing timing spheres.
Overall, it confidently vies with the dress collections of such high-end luxury brands as Patek Philippe (Calatrava, Gondolo), Audemars Piguet (Jules Audemars, Edward Piguet) and Ebel. Indeed, several timepieces appear to share visual features with AP and Ebel in particular, and in our series of reviews we will closely examine some of these similarities.
Above all, Baumer&Mercier prize clarity, classic lines, and formal, business-like pure aesthetic. Within this framework, the watches will manifest surprising degrees of flexibility: visuals readily assume relaxed fashion and casual tones in the numerous casual and dressy sub-collections.
Considering these characteristics, tetragons emerge as a natural choice for case architecture, and rectangular and angular shapes consequently play a prominent role in the company's assortment. As a prime example, Hampton and Diamant collections, made for men and women, are the brand's most versatile and deep in terms of both design and materials.
The list of materials includes the standard and reliable stainless steel, gold, diamonds, sapphire crystal, and leather.
Baume and Mercier utilize mechanical hand-wound (for the traditional William Baume), automatic, and quartz movements. The latter usually inhabit the cases of smaller sized items from jewelry and ladies collections, automatic calibers appear mostly in larger Classima and Hampton. Complications include chronograph (including single pusher), tourbillon, GMT (dual time), calendar, and power reserve.
A peculiar quality in the complicated automatic watches is the understatement with which they are exhibited: even when some of dials are skeletonized to reveal a part of the mechanism – a difficult task for a watchmaker it is done in a almost as a matter of fact fashion
Hampton Classic, the ultimate Baume&Mercier collection, effectively embodies the company's aesthetic vision. It is restrained even when executed in warm yellow gold; the regularly employed steel, diamonds, and silverized or bluish mother-of-pearl dials project a cool reserve, a stylish confidence, and a touch of playfulness (the off-center diamond on the crown).
Hampton Milleis and Hampton Square offer variations on the main theme, both altering the straight rectangular case of the classic division. Milleis arches the horizontal lines, creating an unusual (somewhat like a turned tonneau), unique, and very memorable frame: it's a shift towards more fashion-conscious modelling – in a way a tribute to Baume Mercier's early Art Deco inspired watches. Square, as the title reveals, opts for a square shape – a perky move that take Hampton closer to the avant-guard. Interesting similarities with Jaeger LeCoultre Squadra, Omega Quadra, and other square collections.
Ilea presents an unadulterated luxury ladies line that adds elliptic hints to the case, diamonds to the bezel, and mother-of-pearl to the dials, all to create a distinct mix of strength and finesse. The smoothness of the entire configuration has almost a silky quality. Notable resemblances to Ebel Beluga women's.
On the one hand, Diamant is the rectangular reincarnation of Ilea: also a true feminine collection, it combines precious metals, stones, and mother-of-pearl similarly to its round cousin. On the other hand, it can be viewed as an extension of Hampton – though comparing Hampton Ladies to Diamant reveals that the latter is more sophisticated and expressively decorative in lugs and case organization.
Classima (Executives) constitutes another core, brand defining collection – the round answer to the quadrilateral Hampton. More importantly, it hosts Baume&Mercier watchmaking engineering ambitions, offering watches outfitted with a range of complications, starting with chronograph, and ending with calendar and power reserve. Minimalist, pure design alludes to competition across the industry: Longines Master, Vacheron Constantin Patrimony, Blancpain Villeret, and others.
William Baume picks the premise of Classima Executives, and upgrades it to a high-end horological concept. A recent collection, it deploys mechanical manual and automatic self-winding movements with a tourbillon, power reserve, and chronograph complications.
Riviera can be viewed as the avant-guard precursor of the classic (and still very popular) Capeland: similarly robust, it features an ultra-modern dodecadonal case instead of the round one of the latter. It's a master collection that includes casual, jewelry and travel-sports watches for both men and women. Stylistically, it brings in a youthful gust to Baume&Mercier oeuvre.
Capeland – apparently out of production today (though new models can still be found in stores and on eBay) – is poised become the recent addition to brand vintage department. Timepieces contain automatic chronograph movements, carry a ruled unidirectional rotating bezel, and resist water up to 200 meters. The package of functions and utilities renders each item a universal travel watch suitable for sports, water adventure, and casual wear.
Ladies and Vintage timers comprise a jewelry and artistic section of past Baume&Mercier creations – highly decorative and complicated respectively, they are valued for their exquisite designs in the first instance, and elaborate engineering in the second.