A Swiss luxury watchmaking company, Baume & Mercier, has been producing high-end timepieces since 1830. From the beginning, the main goal of the company was to make top-quality wristwatches enriched by various technological innovations of the time. In 2012, Baume et Mercier or Baume & Mercier – as the company is known worldwide is owned by conglomerate Richemont, and with Cartier and Piaget they make up the core of the group.
Today, a Swiss manufacturer of luxury timepieces produces approximately 200,000 watches per year and it is represented in 75 countries around the world. The most important markets for the brand are in Europe, particularlyFrance,SpainandItaly. In a last couple of years one of the biggest markets for luxury timepieces becomesAsiawhich is extremely good news for the Richemont company, and especially for its brand Baume et Mercier.
Since 1830, when the Baume family (brothers Louis-Victor and Joseph-Célestin Baume) founded the “Frères Baume” company and when they opened the first comptoirs horlogers (watch shops) in the Swiss Jura region in the village of Les Bois, the company’s motto has been “Accept only perfection, only manufacture watches of the highest quality”.
By the end of 1876, the company had already acquired a solid international reputation for its simple watches, chronographs and Grand Complication models, including minute repeaters, calendars and one of the most important horological complications – tourbillons.
In 1918, after the World War I, a member of the family and the proven watchmaker, William Baume, decided to take advantage of the new era opportunities and to begin a partnership with one of the most interesting people of the time named Tchereditchenko, who subsequently adopted his French mother’s family name and became known as Paul Mercier. A great visionary William Baume handled technical aspects, while a Genevian jeweler of high repute, Paul Mercier, was in charge of design and the commercial side of the business.
A year after the company was set up, its in-house made movements were awarded the “Poinçon de Genève” or Geneva Hallmark, the highest token of fine craftsmanship in the watchmaking industry. Soon after this recognition, Baume & Mercier became the watch brand manufacturing the largest number of movements certified by this eminent quality label. Together, Baume and Mercier established a respective watchmaking company inGeneva, producing high-quality watches and movements that were exported to theUnited States.
From the late 1930s to the 1950s, Baume & Mercier underwent some challenges and some changes. In the mid 1930s, William Baume has retreated from the company for health reasons, while Paul Mercier sold his shares to the Ponti family, well-known jewelers and goldsmiths from northernItaly. The head of the company became the Count Constantin de Gorski, a man with a strong personality.
During the 1940s, Baume & Mercier launched one of its most successful timepieces ever – the Marquise. In the next 20 years, until the early 1960s, this piece of jewelry became the leading post-war ladies’ model, as well as the brand’s best-selling watch.
In 1964, the Swiss manufacturer of luxury timepieces chose the Greek symbol PHI as its new visual brand emblem in order to strengthen its company identity. The 1970s were notable for numerous company’s inventions, such as the innovative Riviera model, one of the very first steel sports watches featuring an original twelve-sided design; the Mimosa and Galaxie models for ladies, both of which won the Golden Rose at the international watch and jewelry competition Baden-Baden held in Düsseldorf, Germany; the global success of the Linea ladies’ model; a fabulous Stardust timepiece featuring an onyx dial surrounded by 138 diamonds…
In 1980, Baume & Mercier made the first Riviera sports watch which was crafted from the mixture of gold and steel. To test its durability and precision, that firstRivierawristwatch was mounted on the wheel of a BMW M1 before the start of the Le Mans 24 hour race. The watch endured the speed, heat and weather and after the race, it still ran perfectly.
In 1988, the destiny of the company took a new turn when the luxury group that would later become Richemont bought up both Piaget and Baume & Mercier.
As a subsidiary of luxury-goods, conglomerate Richemont Group, Baume & Mercier launched a wave of models in its jewelry, classic and sports watch ranges. The most important was a classic rectangular steel watch namedHamptonwhich was introduced in 1994 and soon became the brand’s new flagship model.
In 2002, Baume & Mercier opened its own workshops in Les Brenets, in the Swiss Jura which represented a perfect return to its roots in many ways. Today, a Swiss-based company is known worldwide for creating some of the most ingenious wristwatch designs on the market. Each and every Baume & Mercier’s watch is carefully assembled by hand and checked for the slightest flaw. Also, each watch boasts decent water-resistance, scratch-resistance, and has many stainless steel features that exude everlasting shine. Two of its most popular models are the “Hampton” and the “Riviera,” both named after playgrounds of the rich and famous.
The Swiss company is distributed by 220 exclusive retailers worldwide and has established itself as a producer of sporty chronographs. An interesting fact is that women at the moment make up about a third of Baume et Mercier buyers.
Baume & Mercier comprises some outstanding collections including Linea, Capeland, Classima, iléa, Rivera andHampton, as well as the Haute Horlogerie William Baume collections. Many of Baume & Mercier historic models from early days are considered highly collectible today.