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Paul Maxwell, our Swiss Watch expert, provides an in-depth overview on the Baume & Mercier brand and reviews one of Baume & Mercier's signature watches.
Today I am joined by Paul Maxwell our Swiss Watch expert at Watch Pilot, the home of all things watches.
We’re going to be looking at the brand Baume & Mercier and one of their signature timepieces.
JACK: Paul did you want to start off by explaining a bit more about the brand, as it’s not as well-known as some of the other brands in this price point?
PAUL: Ask 100 people “who or what is Baume & Mercier?” and I’d be surprised if 2 or 3 would reply that they make watches.
And yet, in the watchmaking world it is a highly respected Swiss brand with a rich history of watchmaking and a heritage steeped in quality and innovation.
JACK: When was the Baume & Mercier brand founded?
PAUL: In 1830, the Baume Brothers opened a “comptoir horolger” (watch shop to you and me!) in Les Bois, Switzerland, the very heart of the watch making world.
They became renowned for their sumptuous designs and high-quality workmanship and their business grew quickly and passed through the generations.
Eventually, in 1920 one of those descendants, William Baume, joined forces with Paul Mercier.
Through their contemporary and exquisite designs, they went on to establish the success of the brand through the Roaring Twenties and into the 30s with their Art Deco inspired designs and feminine lines proving watches were not just for Gentlemen.
JACK: Oh wow that’s incredible, where did they go next?
PAUL: Innovating again after the war and into the 1970s when the advance of quartz technology threatened to decimate the Swiss watch industry, they reinvented themselves as all good watch houses eventually do and designed and launched the world’s first steel sports watch, the Riviera and various chronographs to great acclaim.
JACK: What model are we going to look at today?
PAUL: Actually, the Riviera is a great place to start in order to show you Baume & Mercier’s quality and styling as they have launched a 50th anniversary updated Riviera model to mark the occasion….And it’s an absolute beauty!
JACK: It is a spectacular timepiece, tell us a little bit more about it?
PAUL: Baume et Mercier has devised a luxurious option for this 2022 version of the Riviera, packing in the brand’s Baumatic calibre BM13-1975A movement. With this you get 120 hours of power reserve—three times more than many automatic movements, the best of which can only muster a rather measly 70 hours by comparison.
JACK: Oh wow I’ve not seen that before on an automatic watch!
PAUL: A lot of rather nice decoration seen through the glass case back and a very clever, opaque smoked sapphire dial too—and throwing in 100M water resistance to boot. Especially the white-on-black date window that blends into the dial.
JACK: That looks good, the white-on-black compliments the dial nicely.
PAUL: The fact is, that this Baume et Mercier’s timepiece very legitimately shares a heritage with some of the finest and most desirable pieces on the planet, including Audemars Piaget and Patek Philippe, and that puts it in a rather unique situation. And although visual comparisons with the Royal Oak or even Patek’s Nautilus are inevitable, it’s really not trying to be something it’s not.
JACK: So that’s a good thing right? We spoke about Audemars and the Royal Oak in our Casio video (G-Shock review).
PAUL: The truth is, it really does have roots that go back to that innovative time of watch design, but at a fraction of the price.
So this watch does exactly what Baume et Mercier promises – a free pass into 1970’s style, but with the additional benefit of a state-of-the-art Swiss automatic movement (as opposed to the 70’s Quartz version) and for a budget that won’t break the bank.
JACK: So how much are we looking at?
PAUL: We shall get to that in a bit. Down to the nitty gritty.
You can see the watch has a satin brushed stainless steel case and a dodecagonal (that’s 12 sided to you and me, Jack!) bezel to tie in with the 12 hourly markers on the dial and held in place with 4 screws.
This gives it a luxurious appearance from the off. The bracelet is finished the same and has an ingenious built-in interchangeable strap system to allow you to change from bracelet to rubberised strap in seconds should you wish to.
JACK: Can you show us how it’s done?
PAUL: Yeah sure. It's really very simple.
All you do is you press that little bar in at the back which is on a spring.
Pull to release the bracelet from the case that allows you then to put the rubber strap on in exactly the same way.
JACK: Nice and simple then.
PAUL: Yes and the dial itself has been designed so you can see through it just enough to make out the dark blue calendar disc, the gear train of the watch movement and a central discreet wave pattern.
JACK: Oh I love that, especially the dates faded in the background behind the time batons and today’s date being highlighted. Gives it a unique look.
PAUL: I agree, if you flip it over and you get a view of the beautifully finished Baumatic movement with a skeletonised oscillating weight (the bit that winds the spring up) so skilfully engineered, the case back held in place with 4 screws, the same as the bezel at the front.
JACK: Another great look, I love being able to see the movement in the watch even though you can’t see this on the front.
PAUL: The whole look and feel of the watch lead you to believe it would realistically retail at a much higher price point if it had maybe an Omega or a Patek logo on the dial…..
JACK: How much does this watch retail for?
PAUL: Currently retails on our website for £3,170.
JACK: Oh wow, I didn’t expect it to be at that price, I thought it was going to be a bit cheaper, around the £1,000 mark. But when you compare it to the Omega it is great value for money.
PAUL: And when you consider the watch will keep working off your wrist for up to 120 hours with a fully charged mainspring, it really does represent incredible value.
JACK: Just to summarise, shall we go through some of the specs we haven’t already mentioned?
PAUL: Yes… Case Width: 42mm
Case Depth: 10.66mm
Material: Stainless Steel
Movement: Swiss Made “in-house” Baumatic
JACK: So what does in-house mean if it’s Swiss made?
PAUL: Essentially in-house means Baume & Mercier produced this movement from scratch in their own workshops
Most watch manufacturers don't do that.
JACK: Oh right, I get what you mean now.
PAUL: Strap Type: Stainless Steel
Strap Width: 20mm
Dial Colour: Smoked Sapphire Blue
Strap Colour: Silver
Clasp Type: Triple folding clasp with security push pieces
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Power Reserve: 5 Days (120 Hours)
Warranty: 2 Years Baume Mercier Manufacturer Warranty (Increased to 3 years when watch is registered online)
JACK: If you have any questions you would like Paul to answer, drop them in the comments.
PAUL: I’ll be sure to answer them.
JACK: You can also purchase this watch on our website watchpilot.co.uk.
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