By Cody D. Smith
Richemont Group has made a very interesting move as of late. Just recently, they unveiled their framework for a brand new line of watches that will be fully customizable and simple in design and function. Baume has been launched as a scratch made brand that will be available as entry-level timepieces that focus on a completely less than materialistic creation. Baume will use no (you read that correctly) precious metals, precious stones, or any materials sourced from animals. You won’t find any Baume watches with gold accouterments or leather straps. Baume has stated that in creating this new brand, the target customer isn’t defined by an age, but rather by the mentality of its intended customers. Let’s take a closer look at who exactly Baume is and what path they plan for this infant brand.
When one hears the name Baume, you may instantly think of Baume and Mercier, owned and operated by Richemont Group. Rest assured, this is not in any way tied to Baume and Mercier other than falling under the same family tree, corporately. Marie Chassot of Baume and Mercier, along with a few other representatives of the company, have been placed at the helm of operations for Baume. This brand has a completely different ethos that it lives by, standing apart from the rest of the Richemont catalog. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is a subdivision of Baume and Mercier.
Upon release, we were shown that there will be two collections to choose from: the Iconic Series as well as the Custom Timepiece Series. The watches are all made from recycled and natural materials only, and interestingly enough, all models will come equipped with a crown at the 12 o’clock position as opposed to the traditional three o’clock layout. The Iconic Series features a recycled aluminum case, a 100% recycled PET plastic strap, and will house a Citizen owned Miyota automatic movement. The Iconic will be the brands flagship product, and it utilizes a rather unique dial layout as well. Using a 24-hour regulator layout, with a large minute hand as well as a running seconds dial at the two o’clock position as well as a 24-hour dial at the six o’clock position. The Iconic will start at $1,100. Later on in the year, we can expect a limited release of the Iconic, this time with even more recycled materials to choose from.
The second half of Baume’s collection will be the Custom Timepiece Series. It will be exactly what the name says, fully customizable timepieces. So customizable, in fact, that there are already over 2,000 combinations available at the time of launch. The watch can be configured using an online tool that will allow the buyer to choose from a myriad of dial configurations, case sizes (35mm or 41mm with the choice of plain stainless steel finishing, rhodium plated steel, black PVD steel, and finally, rose gold colored steel), and many complications to choose from. At this time, all of the Custom Timepiece line will be running on a quartz movement sourced from either Ronda or Miyota depending on which complications you choose. The strap choices alone offer lots of new frontiers for watchmaking materials: cotton, linen, and cork just to name a few of them. The entry-level Custom will cost $560 with some quartz complications starting at $630.
I believe that this is a bold and powerful move that has come from Richemont Group. Youthful audiences will likely appreciate the accessible prices as much as they will enjoy the idea that they are wearing one of the only ethically sourced watches in the world. I can see this becoming a wide and sweeping opportunity that could bring about a revival to many younger people in terms of what a watch can be. Baume is completely dedicated to sourcing the materials of these watches as ethically as possible; with as little collateral damage to the home we call Earth as possible. Beyond the youth, the customizable nature of these watches will also appeal to a large group of consumers who demand personalization in today’s world. This may be the first time that any watch company has taken closer look at what goes into making a watch, stepped back, and created a new approach to the idea of sustainable horology (if it ever existed before this point). Be sure to check out Baume if you love the world you walk on. While the entry-level position and name may be frowned upon, I believe that these watches are worthy of a second look due to the mission and heart behind them. Going green now applies to the wristwatch world, and I think it could be the start of something beautiful. For more info, visit Baume online.