Baume Iconic is the first automatic watch by the new brand Baume. All the other watches in Baume’s first collection are quartz. One of Baume’s unique selling point is the use of recycled materials, in particular aluminium for the watch case, and a strap made from recycled PET plastic. The Miyota 82D7 movement is made in Japan.
Unusual dial layout
The watch has an unusual design. The central hand shows minutes. Hours are shown by a short hand on the subdial at below centre. There is a small hand for running seconds to the right of the centre pivot. The crown is at 12 o’clock. Part of the movement can be seen through a window at the centre of the dial, with part of the balance in view. The caseback provides a bit of extra information: designed in Geneva, made in the Netherlands, aluminium case with a 30-metre water resistance.
The design reflects a creative re-use of an existing movement. The Miyota 82D7 provides hours and minutes on a central pivot, a 24-hour subdial at 9 ‘clock, and small seconds at 4.30. The designers simply rotated the movement 90 degrees anticlockwise to place the crown at the top and the 24-hour hand at 6 o’clock, removing the hour hand from the central pivot. They used a conventional arrangement for the 24-hour dial, with 0/midnight at the top and 12 o’clock at the bottom. Perhaps it would have been nicer to have 12 o’clock at midday so that the movement of the hand reflects the position of the sun in the sky. In any case, the hand is too short and so it’s not easy to read the time.
The strap is interesting, simply looped through the lug and fastened with a button. This makes it easy to change, providing the watch with one of the brand’s selling points: customizable timepieces.
Baume Iconic – marketing
There has been some criticism of how the new brand Baume has been launched. It is part of the RIchemont Group, which encompasses some of the most prestigious names in watchmaking, from A. Lange & Söhne to Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Roger Dubuis and so forth. The Group’s lowest-end brand is Baume & Mercier, that in recent years seems to have been making attempts to make their watches ever cheaper, even introducing quartz movements in order to offer prices below €1,000. The new brand Baume is apparently beinig run under Baume & Mercier’s wing for the moment. But I find the concept of using just half an existing brand name quite bizarre. It intrinsically reduces the perceived value of the Baume & Mercier brand and creates a lot of confusion in the mind of the consumer.
Who knows what went on in boarroom discussions? I can only imagine that someone wanted to give Richemont a low-cost brand that could compete with Swatch Group’s Tissot and Mido, and with the endless new mechanical watch brands that are surfing the wave of consumer interest in mechanical watches, using Asian components and labour to keep prices down. Perhaps the project was initially going to be a Baume & Mercier offering, but at the last minute someone began to worry about the effect that these low-cost products would have on B&M’s brand image, and so they decided on a degree of separation.
The other question regards sustainability, another unique selling point for Baume. The watch is prominently labelled “upcycled” because the aluminium used for the case and dial incorporates some recycled aluminium, and the strap is in recycled PET. The brand supports a group working on reducing the amount of plastic in the oceans. All of this is great, but personally, I love mechanical watches because if they are well made and properly maintained, they can live for decades, passed down from one generation to the next. This contrasts with cheap quartz watches which are destined to the rubbish bin after a few decades and generate exrra environmental damage as a result of the batteries purchased and (hopefully) recycled in the course of their life. I have a feeling that these cheap watches by Baume and the many other “mushroom” brands that are constantly appearing will end up in dusty boxes along with a selection of dead Swatch watches that are now a part of countless attics, cellars, storage boxes under beds and so forth.
Price and further information
The Baume Iconic costs €890. This is cheap in comparison to other mechanical watches by the Richemont Group and Baume & Mercier. It is expensive considering the level of design quality, and in comparison to Swatch Group brands like Tissot and other new brands – Helm is just one of the many examples, making quality mechanical watches at around €300.
The Baume Iconic is available from the Baume website. All images courtesy of Baume.