W&W2021 - THE SPIRIT OF DESIGN & COLLABORATION
Baume & Mercier watchmaking in 2021
The story of Baume & Mercier began in 1830 when the Baume brothers, Louis-Victor and Célestin, opened a clockmaking company in Les Bois, in Swiss Jura. However, it was only when William Baume and Paul Mercier became associates in 1918 that they went on to lay the foundations for “Baume & Mercier” and the Brand’s vision of watchmaking began to crystallize. The pragmatic approach of William Baume, a brilliant, ingenious, avant-garde watchmaker, gave rise to the in-house Baumatic movement, the epitome of technical achievement in the service of the client. The inspiration of the aesthete Paul Mercier, a peerless salesman and art enthusiast, infused the Brand with the creativity that shaped its destiny. Since then, the Baume & Mercier DNA has upheld attention to design, a continual interaction between pragmatism and aesthetics, and a collective, collaborative approach. In 2020, this dynamic went a step further. Now, in 2021, it is more emphatic than ever.
Asserting design expertise
To design a timepiece like an art object… It takes a visionary spirit with a love for shapes and volumes to conceive of ultra-slim pocket watches for men and jewelry watches for women to wear as rings or necklaces. Beginning in the 1920s, Paul Mercier, backed by the technical expertise of William Baume, captured the essence of the social progress of the times. The Brand’s inherent creativity and modernity have brought it resounding success, marking the signature look of Baume & Mercier that is still visible today.
Since then, the Brand’s watches – individualistic, visually remarkable, and in innovative shapes – have never ceased to express this artistry. In particular, this stylistic research was acknowledged in 1972 and 1973 when the Galaxie and Stardust watches respectively received the Golden rose, a prestigious watch-and-jewelry competition from Baden-Baden to Düsseldorf.
In 1973, the Riviera challenged the traditional codes with its dodecagonal bezel and case. Twelve sides for the twelve hours on the dial. A designer watch if there ever was one, the Riviera played on sports elegance in steel instead of gold, and offered clients a delightfully rebellious watchmaking approach. The piece was redesigned several times to keep up with the changing times, but it continues to uphold the unique look that initially made it such a success. It embodies the Brand’s renewal through new variations available in 2021: crafted in steel, in three different sizes, equipped with “Swiss-made” or quartz movements, and mounted on interchangeable straps.
In 1994, the rectangular case of the Hampton, with its streamlined look and curves, marked an aesthetic breakthrough. With a unique shape, it was inspired by an iconic model from the 1960s, asserting a vintage Art Deco look from the 1920s. The softened lines of its case create a delicate, flowing geometric silhouette.
The Clifton took the look one step further in 2013 with a convincing tribute in exquisitely elaborate curves. This chic urban model, combining classic watchmaking with modernity, confirmed the Brand’s affection for watches that express harmony and originality. This is demonstrated by the curvy contours of its round case, which asserts the collections’ refined personality.
In 2018, the Baume revealed a crown unconventionally located at 12 o’clock – a throwback to the pocket watch – as well as mobile lugs. It introduced a streamlined and even minimalist design while pioneering an environmentally aware approach through the use of natural materials and upcycling techniques.
Born from an innovative, modern spirit, the collections of yesteryear continue to assert their contemporary spirit and avant-garde shapes, joining today’s collection in the creative momentum that the Brand never ceases to renew. Each one in its own way demonstrates a love for design, a passion for shape, and a desire to make a bold statement, which Baume & Mercier has been carrying in its DNA since William Baume met Paul Mercier. The Studio Design – the Brand’s in-house creative studio – has always enthusiastically created each new collection, setting itself the challenge of mastering a great variety of shapes, from the simplest to the most complex. The constant pursuit for perfect proportions and precise lines; attention to detail; the harmony of materials and colors; the concurrence of classicism and design; the mingling of rectangular and rounded lines; and the balance between men’s and women’s watchmaking all enter into the creative process. By choosing the Greek letter Phi – a reference to the divine proportion and its natural balance – as its emblem, Baume & Mercier has clearly hitched its wagon to the star of artistic aspiration.
A collective, collaborative, responsible approach
Baume & Mercier has shown a tendency to engage in collaboration since William Baume met Paul Mercier in 1912. Or, in other words, since the heir to the watchmaking house became friends with Paul Tchereditchenko, the son of a Czarist officer and a Frenchwoman – and a salesman for the London-based Haas jewelers at the time – who took on his mother’s maiden name when he became a naturalized Swiss citizen. A hard worker from an early age, and fluent in several languages, the gentleman with aristocratic airs and extraordinary people skills formed a complementary team with William Baume. Other duos later took over from the founders to lead the House, an embodiment of the continual interaction between pragmatic discipline and aesthetic sensibility. Constantin de Gorski, a Polish aristocrat, brilliant intellectual and art collector, worked alongside Marc Beuchat, whose technical achievements were crowned with success; and when it was his turn, André Juillerat contributed his watchmaking expertise and meticulous conscientiousness to the Brand. Other, more recent duos have carried on this legacy of complementarity.
Today, more than ever, Baume & Mercier intends on asserting its concept of watchmaking: its openness to other realms and the world in general; its way of keeping up with the times, in real-time; and its refusal to compromise the attention brought to developing creativity within the House. In a collective, collaborative, responsible approach, the Brand launches projects where watchmaking resonates with artistic creativity. This leads to concerted considerations of today’s design challenges, necessarily taking environmental issues into account; the combination of different experiences and types of expertise; and the exploration of new possibilities and innovations. This flow is what stimulates the Brand, compels it to set challenges, and enables it to go even further, together. Baume & Mercier believes in the power of teamwork to design tomorrow’s watchmaking. It stands for a meaningful approach that perfectly reflects its values: authenticity, relevancy, creativity, collaboration, responsibility, and remaining in step with the times.
At the moment, this dynamic is translating into three ambitious projects.
The first explores innovation through science. The setting is the Material Futures class of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. There, for the second consecutive year, students were asked to consider materials or techniques that could replace or restructure an existing or found component of a Baume & Mercier collection. The materials must embody durability without compromising on the style, luxurious appearance, original design or quality of the watch.
The second project reveals creativity through design. It consists of sponsoring “Ones To Watch 2021” by the It’s Nice That collective. Their slogan, “Championing creativity since 2007,” perfectly sums up their commitment: to shine a light on emerging artists spotted by their expert eyes. The adventure focuses on graphic designers, photographers, and visual artists of all ilks who – like Baume & Mercier – share a passion for design.
The third project entails responsibility through sports. It is a collaboration with a promising young French skateboarder, Aurélien Giraud, to co-create a special edition Baume watch using recycled skateboards. Or when watchmaking meets the skateboarding world to produce a unique object. All these bold, enthusiastic, inquisitive, inventive, ingenious people have joined the Baume & Mercier collective, following in the footsteps of Paul Mercier. All these initiatives enable Baume & Mercier and the House teams to conceive of the future of Baume & Mercier watchmaking.
2021 heralds the return of Baume & Mercier and its iconic Riviera collection. Created in 1973, the Riviera watch returns this year to revive the spirit of an inspiring watchmaking era. One of the Brand’s icons, it still features the distinctive bezel and streamlined steel case that has brought it such renown. Rather than a revival, the fifth generation of this legendary watch strikes the chord of authentic renewal. It is unique. It is reliable. It is athletic. It is authentic. It is “Swiss Made”. It is a Baume & Mercier. Its name is Riviera.
Baume & Mercier is changing its direction – but not its philosophy – by continuing to express the Brand’s expertise in watchmaking design, style and innovation. Baume & Mercier is making a come-back, and Riviera is its flagship.