The History of Baume & Mercier


ORIGINS 1830

Baume & Mercier’s story begins in 1830 with the founding of a family business. Brothers Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume opened a comptoir horloger (watch dealership) in Les Bois, a village in the Swiss Jura. Their company developed rapidly and earned an excellent reputation by creating exceptional models incorporating cutting-edge innovations. Loyal to their motto “Accept only perfection, only manufacture watches of the highest quality”, the Frères Baume company enjoyed rapid growth. Louis- Victor was a true visionary who already intuitively sensed women’s interest in watchmaking and gifted his daughter Mélina a gold pocket-watch in 1869.


INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

Keenly aware of the potential represented by new territories, the company set up a branch in London under the name “Baume Brothers”. It soon expanded throughout the British Empire, spanning India, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Burma. By the late 19th century, the company had already acquired a solid international reputation and was becoming a noted watchmaking player abroad. At the time, the brand was best known for its chronographs and its grand complication models, including minute repeaters, calendars and tourbillons. Thanks to its time measuring instruments, the company won ten Grand Prix awards and seven gold medals at international exhibitions and shows in Paris, Melbourne, Zurich, London, Amsterdam and Chicago.


As well as being beautiful and highly complex, Baume watches also demonstrated a rare degree of precision. They set accuracy records and won various timekeeping competitions, particularly the precision timing trials held by the Kew Observatory near London. In 1892, Baume won the latter competition with a chronometer pocket-watch equipped with a tourbillon movement of which the precision was to remain unmatched for over ten years.

NEW ENCOUNTER, NEW DISTINCTION

At the beginning of the 1920s, the company director William Baume joined forces with Paul Mercier. Together, they founded Baume & Mercier, Genève in 1918. The firm soon became one of the most active in the field of wristwatches by offering remarkably balanced special-shaped models. In 1919, it was awarded the highest international distinction of the time in the shape of the “Poinçon de Genève” quality hallmark – a token of exceptional craftsmanship and quality.

CREATIVITY AND FEMININITY

Paul Mercier knew that it was essential for the brand to live in step with the times and to embrace change. During the “Roaring Twenties”, the brand grasped the importance of women’s emancipation and came to regard their desires as an unquenchable source of inspiration. In the 1940s, building on this profound understanding of femininity, Baume & Mercier launched one of its most successful models: the Marquise. This jewelry-watch nestling inside a bangle-style bracelet was both attractive and practical.


Impelled by this creative momentum, the brand launched a number of exquisitely creative and amazingly modern ladies’watches. It thereby proved that timepieces for women are not merely miniaturized and simplistic interpretations of masculine models. Femininity was already an integral part of the Baume & Mercier values - revealing a resolutely modern attitude.

ORIGINALITY AND AVANT-GARDE

Energized by the arrival of Paul Mercier, the company laid the foundation of a corporate philosophy that is still as timely as ever. From this point onwards, horological mastery was embodied through timeless elegance. A true trailblazer in this market segment, Baume & Mercier made a name for itself among a public eager for new products by launching the first “shaped” (meaning other than round) wristwatches.

During the entire Art Deco period, the brand asserted its style and left an enduring imprint on the field of watch design. Witness the Hampton collection, inspired by a rectangular watch launched in the 1940s. This chic, urban watch with its timeless design keeps step with the life’s many special moments by embodying an art of living instilled with inimitable elegance.

CLASSICISM AND MODERNITY

During the 1950s and 60s, the company was constantly in pursuit of the equilibrium symbolized by the Greek letter (Phi) – the current Baume & Mercier logo – laid the groundwork of what is now considered the archetypal traditional round watch. It thus launched various chronographs equipped with functions such as moon phases or triple date displays, as well as collection of round watches with a simple design and pared-down dials. These emblematic Golden Fifties watches now enable the brand to return to its roots and gain inspiration from the past in creating collections such as Capeland and Classima, as well as the new Clifton line.

ELEGANCE AND TIMELESSNESS

During the 1970s, Baume & Mercier offered innovatively shaped timepieces such as the Galaxie and Stardust models. Perfectly mirroring the brand’s inherent creativity, these models won prestigious international distinctions such as the Golden Rose of Baden-Baden. In 1973, Baume & Mercier anticipated societal changes by presenting the Riviera, one of the world’s first steel sports watches. In 1988, the firm joined the Richemont group and enriched its collection with a number of successful models which immediately established themselves as the brand’s flagship lines.


Baume & Mercier currently offers five collections designed to offer the best possible representation of quality watchmaking: Hampton, for shaped watches intended for both men and women; Capeland, for chronographs and Worldtimer watches; Classima for those with a penchant for minimalist design; Linea for elegant and dynamic women; and finally, the new Clifton collection matching the expectations of urbanites looking for a classic yet contemporary timepiece.