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NEW YORK — Baume & Mercier’s latest offering is all about the ladies. This month, the Swiss watchmaker is introducing a new collection, Promesse — its first women’s piece in almost a decade.
This story first appeared in the June 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“If you look at the watch industry, there are very few brands that have the same credibility between men and women,” said Alain Zimmermann, chief executive officer of Baume & Mercier, which is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont. “It’s a true asset that we’ve been successful in that, so we didn’t want to let it go.”
But it didn’t rush things. Promesse has been in production for more than five years. The design centers on a round face, a feature missing from previous collections. “The problem is that it’s the most common design you’ll find in the industry,” Zimmermann explained. “So the question is, how do we add a round watch that’s a true Baume & Mercier? Redesigning the round watch was the most difficult exercise we had to do.”
The result is a jewelry-esque timepiece inspired by a Seventies model found within the brand’s museum collection. Offered in two sizes — 30 mm. and 34 mm. — the watch features an oval mother-of-pearl bezel setting. It is offered in several variations, including steel and two-tone 18-karat red gold, with some set with diamonds. Additionally, the watch will be available in both quartz and automatic models. “Choice is important,” said Zimmermann. “Ladies like to have a choice. We also wanted the watch to have a strong feminine touch, but [also be] an everyday, wearable watch.”
The collection will be available at select retailers beginning in September. Prices start at $1,900. Providing a reasonable entry-level price without compromising quality was imperative to the brand.“It’s nice to dream about a watch, but it’s even nicer when a dream becomes a reality on your wrist,” said Zimmermann.
He also hopes to balance out brand offerings, in terms of gender, upon the new collection’s release. Currently, men’s watches account for about 70 percent of Baume & Mercier’s total offerings, with men’s sales at a slightly higher percentage. “The overall target in the next two to three years will to get to a 60-40 split,” said Zimmermann. The brand declined to provide sales projections, but Zimmermann said he expects Promesse to become the company’s most popular women’s style within a year. Currently, the Linea collection is the best-selling women’s offering, accounting for almost 40 percent of all women’s sales.
To ensure the success of the new collection, Zimmermann said the second half of the year will be “extremely lady oriented” for Baume & Mercier. The brand has invested “a significant portion” of its global marketing budget to promoting the product. In-store promotions and a focused advertising campaign are currently in the works. “We want people to understand that we are back with a fantastic product and a unique design,” said Zimmermann.