Richemont Group on Tuesday unveiled Baume, the first watch brand launched by the luxury conglomerate, which has acquired the other timepiece brands in its portfolio, including Baume & Mercier.
Aiming to meld — and trade on — the 180-year-old Baume & Mercier’s heritage with a new sustainable materials model, Baume endeavors to attract new customers — those looking for luxurious, eco-friendly options that are not mass-produced, yet fall below the luxury price point.
To underscore its commitment to bettering the environment, the watches will make their debut at a series of ocean-facing events in Malibu today and Wednesday.
While the line is not considered an off-shoot or lower-priced version of Baume & Mercier, which itself has been challenged by a saturated watch market, the association with an established Swiss watchmaker is also key in the branding message.
Launching with two style groupings, the Iconic and the Custom, Baume combines Swiss watchmaking techniques with sustainable materials: aluminum for the cases, and bands made from natural, upcycled or recycled materials such as cork, cotton, linen, alcantara or recycled PET.
The Iconic series, an automatic watch that is the brand’s hero style, will be updated seasonally and starts at $1,100 retail.
The Custom Timepiece series, for which customers can create more than 2,000 permutations in 35-mm or 41-mm case sizes by choosing various components, movements and materials, starts at $560 and goes up to $630.
No animal-based or precious materials are used in either group, and unused components are recycled or reused. The goal is to one day create a totally recycled watch. To that end, Baume partnered with the NGO Waste Free Oceans to develop watches and parts from recycled plastic found in oceans. A limited-edition series launching later this year will feature watches produced in collaboration with other global partners that introduce new approaches to the design process.
“The brand was born from the awareness that it’s time to make time for what really matters. Economics can be a force for good,” said Baume’s brand leader, Marie Chassot. “You can find other watch brands offering personalization, design, good price points and sustainability, but the combination of these things together is what makes us unique.”
Though the price point was very important, given the struggles that some luxury watch brands have faced to sustain sales, Chassot noted that the image and branding will remain rooted in luxury.
“We’re hoping to attract new customers who don’t really know us, but Baume is a great name, to tell you the truth,” she said.