What we have here today is something pretty rare: a new brand within the Richemont Group that is being created from scratch rather than acquired from outside. Baume will be the new entry level offering in Richemont's watch portfolio, and the brand's goals are to reach a new audience by offering customization options and watches created through sustainable manufacturing processes.
For pretty much anyone reading HODINKEE, the name "Baume" probably sounds familiar – it comes from the first half of Richemont brand Baume & Mercier. So, are the two related? Well, kind of. The person tapped to lead the new endeavor, Marie Chassot, is coming over from Baume & Mercier along with a few other execs, and, legally speaking, Baume is a sub-entity of Baume & Mercier. However, we're assured that Baume is much its own brand with its own designers, its own strategy, and its own watchmaking goals. This is not baby Baume & Mercier.
The new company says that it's targeting less an age group than a mindset, by committing to not using any precious metals, precious stones, or animal materials in its watches. So you'll never see a gold Baume timepiece with diamond hour markers and a leather strap. Where possible, the watches will use upcycled, recycled, and natural materials. Another thing you'll notice is that all the watches have the crown at 12 o'clock instead of at the usual three o'clock position. The watches are currently being designed in Geneva, Switzerland, and assembled at a Richemont facility in the Netherlands. But Chassot told me that the goal is eventually to have assembly facilities in the various markets where Baume watches will be sold, cutting down on transit and carbon footprint.
At its launch today, Baume will have two collections, the Iconic Series and the Custom Timepiece Series. The former contains a single mechanical reference at launch, and is considered the brand's flagship. The Iconic watch features a case made from aluminum (some of it recycled) and a strap made from 100% recycled PET (plastic). Its movement is an automatic caliber from Citizen-owned Miyota, and you can see part of it through the watch's semi-open dial. That dial, by the way, looks a little atypical, as the watch uses a 24-hour regulator layout, with a large minutes hand, a small 24-hour dial at six o'clock, and a runnings seconds dial at two o'clock. Baume says that a limited edition featuring other recycled materials will be coming later this year. The Iconic watch we have here is priced at $1,100 and serves as the starting point for the collection.