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Baume & Mercier’s bold timing

With Baume & Mercier seeking to expand its presence in Australia, ARABELLA RODEN caught up with chief operating officer Daniel Braillard to find out what retailers can expect from this historic Swiss watch brand – including its ground-breaking new model.
In 1830, brothers Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume
opened a comptoir horloger (watch dealership) 
in Les Bois, a village in the Swiss Jura.

Baume & Mercier has been manufacturing luxury timepieces in the picturesque Swiss Jura region for nearly 200 years.

Founded by brothers Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume in 1830, the business has been guided by their motto ever since: ‘Accept only perfection, only manufacture watches of the highest quality.’

“This is more than a motto – I would call it a philosophy,” says Daniel Braillard, chief operating officer Baume & Mercier. “Everything we do within the brand is linked with quality and durability.”

That staunch commitment to technical excellence still informs Baume & Mercier’s watchmaking today, says Braillard, and has allowed the brand to maintain consistently high-quality – and popular – timepieces across the decades.

“We began in 1830, so we will be 190 years old this year,” he says. “We have a very rich history, and we have been in this market for a very long time. When you invest a certain amount of money into a timepiece, which is a technical object, you need to service it to keep the value.

Founding brothers Louis Victor and Célestin Baume

“You must be sure that the brand will be there in five years, 10 years, or even 200 years after your purchase!” he adds.

Its long history also affords Baume & Mercier an extensive source of inspiration.

“We have iconic collections that we continue to animate year after year, working to bring even more appealing designs for our new models. We will also take inspiration from our old pieces that are present in our museum and reinterpret the design with a modern touch with new materials and new techniques.”

The man behind the watch

Braillard is the architect of Baume & Mercier’s watchmaking strategy and chief of its technical division, with a background in civil engineering.

In his previous role as industrial director of the brand, he opened an atelier in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, in 2002, providing Baume & Mercier with a central production and repair facility.

Daniel Braillard, chief operations officer Baume & Mercier
Daniel Braillard, chief operations officer Baume & Mercier
"When you invest a certain amount of money into a timepiece...You must be sure that the brand will be there in five years, 10 years, or even 200 years after your purchase!"

Today, he controls the entire product ‘life cycle’ of each watch, from development to distribution and after-sales service.

For Braillard, the importance of a solid foundation cannot be overstated.

“I was in génie civil, so the construction of buildings and roads. That is also a question of precision – and a question of planning. Taking the example of a building, first we start with the basement. We make sure the foundation is sold, then we start the first floor, and so on. The process to develop a watch is exactly the same,” he says.

“We must do the things in the right sequence and respect clear processes; to take one step, validate it, and then pass through to the second one and the third one. For me, this was really something very important. It was easy for me to reinforce those aspects when it was a question of developing new watches or even a new movement.”

That movement is the Baumatic, the first one to be developed in-house at Baume & Mercier.

“It was a very long process,” says Braillard. “When developing a new watch, it’s a process that will usually take two years, from the design to production and launch. But developing a watch with a new movement takes many more years because it is quite complicated. There were delicate steps in the development of the movement itself, more than the watch.”

A Baumatic movement lies inside the brand’s latest model, the Clifton Baumatic 10468. Braillard cites it as an example of innovation meeting classic design.

The Clifton line, inspired by vintage Baume & Mercier dress watches from the 1950s, was originally unveiled in 2012. Round cases, clean lines and leather straps give these timepieces a sophisticated yet understated appeal, perfect for business or day-to-day wear.

In addition to its stylish appearance, the Clifton Baumatic 10468 also delivers four compelling technical benefits.

Braillard explains: “The watch has a five-day power reserve with only one barrel, which is quite good. It's also very high precision, with a COSC [Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres] certification. That is a label for precision which means the watch must be less four seconds or plus six seconds per day.

“Also, the watch is anti-magnetic – it can perfectly work in our current environment which has a lot of magnetic fields. And finally, we have re-worked all the lubricants inside the watch. That is important because it gives the opportunity for the customer to bring back the watch for a service less frequently.”

Indeed, Braillard estimates the interval between services could be nearly doubled, from three years to five years, representing a significant cost saving for customers.

Maintaining market share
"[Developing a new watch] will usually take two years, from the design to production and launch. But developing a watch with a new movement takes many more years"

In today’s fast-paced and trend-driven consumer market, it is difficult to imagine a brand maintaining its popularity for nearly two centuries.

The Baume & Mercier approach is to appeal to customers wanting to purchase a watch for long-term use, rather than as a fashion accessory.

“For timepieces, the first thing is a link with the design – you either like or don't like the design. That's the first contact,” says Braillard. “Then for people who are a little more interested about the watch they will buy, they care about the quality, the precision, and if the brand will be able to follow them for a long period of time.”

For retailers, Baume & Mercier timepieces present an opportunity to provide this type of customer with a high-quality, luxurious Swiss watch with timeless appeal, at an affordable price. Additionally, Baume & Mercier does not have an official e-commerce store in Australia.

In addition, stockists can expect comprehensive marketing support from Baume & Mercier distributor Duraflex Group Australia (DGA), in the form of social media campaigns, editorials, reviews, targeted advertising and celebrity alignments.

DGA began supplying the brand in 2019.

 

More reading:
Duraflex lands Baume & Mercier

 

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