SIHH 2014 Baume & Mercier

SIHH 2014 – What happened to Baume & Mercier ?

by Olivier Müller

Baume & Mercier was a mystery during this SIHH. What makes the brand different ? Its affordable approach of a quality watchmaking. The brand is transparent and is not a manufacture. All its calibers are supplied by third parties that makes the Swiss industrial network so strong : Sellita, Valjoux, Soprod, ETA, Val Fleurier, and so many others. That’s the reason why we expect a little bit more, especially in creativity, from these brands that just assembled external parts. Fair and understandable expectation…that Baume & Mercier did not even meet. 

Baume & Mercier SIHH 2014 – Low cost presentation

The 2014 collections of the brand are quite poor. Given the fact that the brand has only to focus on design, only a few more Clifton per year is weak. But Baume’s CEO explains that his brand will announce a new partnership in the world of photography in three months, and then a brand new collection dedicated to women, in June 2014. But, instead, Baume & Mercier focused on its one-year old collection, Clifton, with a couple of more models.

Just three new Clifton models…and that’s all

In a nutshell, the new Clifton models will include three main references and a complicated piece. New Cliftons are a day-date chronograph, an interesting day-month retrograde display model, and a risky two-tone watch, marrying golden and steel finishings on the same watch. Some brands are trying to move on this two-tone path, such as Montblanc with its Star Classique, but without great results sor far. This was very trendy in the late 80’s, but then the trend stopped and never went up again.

Winning father, disappointing son

However, what is the most surprising is…Baume & Mercier first tourbillon ! Again, it’s completely outsourced, to Val Fleurier in this case. The watch is based upon a tourbillon piece that has just been found by the company, made and signed by Mr Baume himself in 1892. The piece has won the Kew Observatory first price at its time, and remained undefeated for ten years.

Baume & Mercier Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon

Baume & Mercier Clifton 1892 Flying Tourbillon

Dangerous game

Still, two things are disappointing. First, the price of the « Clitfon 1892 Tourbillon Volant » : almost 46’900 euros ! For a brand that only designed the piece and had all its components outsourced, it’s very, very expensive. Even in gold, even for a 30 pieces limited edition. For the record, Frédérique Constant offers a 100% in house tourbillon (in steel) for…less than half of it.

Then, technically speaking, the new tourbillon doesn’t pick any of the technical specs that led its respected father to victory in Kew. What does this new model has in common with it then ? Almost nothing. This is all based upon marketing and storytelling. But as the level of knowledge amongst watch enthusiasts is constantly growing, this is kind of a dangerous game to play these days.

More resources about Baume & Mercier on the Official Baume & Mercier Website.

    Author Bio

    Articles by Olivier Müller


    Olivier Müller is a professional journalist specialising in horology. He divides his time between Geneva and Paris, covering horology-related topics for a dozen or so magazines and specialist websites in Europe. He is also a regular speaker at various events. In 2008, Olivier Müller set up Delos Communications to manage the writing side of his business, spanning five European countries. Delos Communications also provides consultancy services for horological communication, helping brands as they define and implement their strategy in terms of positioning, messages and audience. In addition to the world’s two largest watchmaking groups, Delos Communications’ clients include a broad range of emerging independent brands, as well as public-sector bodies keen to promote their local watchmaking heritage. Five people work for the agency, including a journalist, a photographer, a community manager and a translator, all with expertise in the world of watchmaking.