Well, no one suspected this.
Earlier today, a watch brand named Baume was unveiled by the Richemont Group as a more affordable sibling to longtime entry-level stalwart Baume & Mercier.
It’s important to note that while Baume shares a first name with Baume & Mercier and the two are technically related, the companies will be separately managed and won’t share similar designs or concepts. In other words, this new brand is looking to develop its own following rather than glom onto any other Richemont brand’s customer base.
From the looks of it, Baume intends to become a competitor in the “fashion watch” segment with a focus on personalisation, sustainability, and contemporary design or what the brand describes as “encouraging individuals to participate in a design-led global conversation.”
“We use no animal-based or precious materials and unused components are recycled or re-used,” says Marie Chassot, a former Baume & Mercier executive who has been chosen to lead the Baume initiative, in a press release. “Our interchangeable watch straps are made from natural, up-cycled or recycled fabrics such as cork, cotton, linen, Alcantara, and recycled PET. Packaging is kept to a minimum: there is no secondary packaging and only FSC-certified paper and cardboard are used.”
Two different collections are currently available on the Baume website. The Iconic Series, which looks to be the standalone flagship model at 41 mm, is made of recycled aluminum and features a risk-taking regulator dial layout with a large minute hand, a smaller 24-hour indicator, a small seconds subdial to the side, and a crown placed at 12 o’clock. It’s also partially skeletonised, exposing the Miyota automatic movement inside. It’s priced at $1,100.
The second collection, dubbed the Custom Timepiece Series, is completely personalisable with a variety of sizes, dial layouts, and materials available. It also features the 12 o’clock crown.
Have you ever wanted to design a 35 mm moon phase wristwatch with a natural cork strap? Now’s your chance. I took the Baume configurator for a quick spin and it is honestly impressive how many options there are. As of right now, the watches in this series are all quartz and start at $560.
All in all, this new Richemont initiative is another example of how the watch industry is changing. I still see more Daniel Wellington and MVMT watches during my daily Brooklyn-to-Manhattan commute than Apple watches and both of those are more disposable and prime examples of the fast fashion plague that has come to dominate the clothing industry. Richemont saw an arena it could make a move in and execute to a higher degree than the competition; I think the industry is all the better for it. And, while it is rare to see a new brand introduced within the confines of the Richemont Group rather than purchased, it’s nothing but a positive sign that there’s a market for it.