Baume & Mercier
In 1830 the Baume family opened one of the first comptoirs horlogers (watch shops) in the Swiss Jura region in the village of Les Bois. “Frères Baume” soon became a major watch company, thanks to the commercial flair and rigorous industrial methods of the two brothers, Louis-Victor and Joseph-Célestin Baume, who strictly followed their motto: “Accept only perfection. Only manufacture watches of the highest quality.”
At the end of World War I in 1918, after proving its use in a military context, the wristwatch gradually took over from the pocket watch as the masculine timepiece of choice.
Baume witnessed the emergence of a new generation, and the young William Baume, a great visionary and an accomplished watchmaker, was eager to take advantage of the new opportunities afforded by the ebullient mood of the era. Having by then settled in Geneva, he decided to partner with a colorful figure named Tchereditchenko, who subsequently adopted his French mother’s family name and became known as Paul Mercier.
Born in Odessa to a Russian father, Paul Mercier was a passionate and refined individual, a dedicated art-lover who spoke seven languages and was endowed with exceptional business acumen.
Despite their very different yet complementary temperaments, the two men, shared the same vision of contemporary watchmaking, and decided to join forces in 1918 to create Baume & Mercier. William Baume handled technical aspects, while Paul Mercier was in charge of design and the commercial side of the business. Together, they established a full-fledged watch manufacture in Geneva, making top-quality watches as well as movements that were exported to the United States.
William Baume withdrew from the company in 1935 for health reasons, and Paul Mercier sold his shares in 1937 to the Ponti family,famous jewelers and goldsmiths from northern Italy.
During the 1940s and throughout World War II, Baume & Mercier chronographs became watches of choice that are still highly sought-after collector’s items today.
After the war, Baume & Mercier launched one of its most successful models: the Marquise.
This jewelry watch, set in a “bangle” type bracelet, asserted itself as the leading post-war ladies’ model and remained a brand best-seller until the early 1960s.
The 1980s witnessed the global success of the Linea ladies’ model, and in 1988 the destiny of Baume & Mercier took a new turn when the luxury group that would later become Richemont bought up both Piaget and Baume & Mercier.
Within the Richemont Group, Baume & Mercier acquired newfound independence and renewed vitality.
The brand displayed noteworthy creativity, introducing a wave of models in its jewelry, classic and sports watch ranges: Catwalk (1997) revived the cuff-watch; Capeland (1998) played the adventurer; and Hampton (1994) became a classic rectangular steel watch and the brand’s new flagship model.
In 2002, Baume & Mercier took a further step towards autonomy by opening its own workshops in Les Brenets, in the Swiss Jura.
This represented a genuine return to roots in more then one way: a return to production in the Jura, the cradle of the Baume company (although the Baume & Mercier headquarters remained in Geneva), and a return to a production mode known as établissage (or project management) and used by the “Frères Baume” throughout the 19th century, but combined with a full set of modern advantages.
The company continued along its successful path with new models such as Classima Executives, Diamant, iléa, as well as the Haute Horlogerie William Baume collections, and a number of sporting and sophisticated models interpreted in Riviera or Hampton versions.
Baume & Mercier is part of the Compagnie Financière Richemont SA- the ultimate holding Company for some of the world’s leading luxury goods companies – its Maisons – encompassing jewellery, watches, premium accessories and other luxury products. The company’s brand portfolio includes: Alfred Dunhill, Azzedine Alaia, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Chloé, IWC, Jaeger- LeCoultre, Lancel, Lange & Söhne, Montblanc, NET-A-PORTER.COM, Officine Panerai, Peter Millar, Piaget, Purdey, Roger Dubuis, Shanghai Tang, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels.