Watches and Wonders 2021: Baume & Mercier take us on a time-travelling journey

Baume & Mercier don't necessarily have a strong following compared to rival brands at a similar price point, but will the revival of an 70s watch and new additions to the Classima range change their fortunes?

The New Baume & Mercia Riviera

Baume & Mercier has been raiding the archive cabinets in preparation for this year’s Watches and Wonders novelties as they reintroduce the Riviera, a watch from 1973.

Although the new Riviera takes the 1973 watch as its starting point, Baume & Mercier are keen to stress that the new model is an ‘authentic renewal’, rather than a revival. And to be fair, I can see what they mean, as unlike recent Longines models which aim to replicate the design of previous watches exactly (size aside), the Riviera is noticeably different to the 70s version.

What’s good to see is that, Baume & Mercier haven’t launched the new Riviera range half-heartedly, as a total of 10 versions will be available, spanning a choice of different case sizes, movements and dial finishes.

Whilst the number of options on offer is vast for a new model launch, there are aspects that are common to all variants. Of course, the most obvious Rivieria trait is the 12-sided bezel with brushed radial finish and four visible hex screws and the integrated bracelet design. Besides that, the main features that are shared are the large applied roman numerals at the 12 and 6 positions, the rhodium plated lume-filed dauphine style hands which are skeletonised at their base, and the unique crown design.

The New Baume & Mercier Riviera 42mm Black Sapphire - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

There are two sizes of Rivieria available at launch, a 42mm and a 36mm. The biggest seller will undoubtedly be the standard 42mm variant which is available in three dial colours – blue, silver and black. These watches are all fitted with the venerable Sellita SW200 automatic movement which beats away at 28,800 VPH or 4 Hz. A distinctive element, and surely a selling point for many, is the patterned dial which is said to symbolise the convergence of the mountains and the ocean (water striking a stone). Each of these variants is available on a stainless steel bracelet for £2350, with only the blue being available with a matching rubber strap. The rubber strap version comes with a saving of £100. Thickness is an impressive 10.66mm.

The New Baume & Mercier 36mm Quartz Line-up - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

The 36mm quartz version is available in silver, black or with a Tiffany-esque azure blue dial which is unique to the 36mm. Whilst it’s not entirely clear, it appears that buyers who like a bit of sparkle can choose to opt for diamonds in place of the four hex screws. The black version of the 36mm is only available on a rubber strap with deployment clasp. Quartz versions use a Swiss made Ronda 714 Li movement. Alternatively, buyers can opt for a silver-dialled automatic version which comes equipped with the Sellita SW200 as found in the 42mm version. All 36mm versions come with textured dials. The quartz version has an overall thickness of 9.47mm, whilst the silver automatic is 9.57mm thick.

The New Baume & Mercier Riviera 42mm with Blue Sapphire Dial - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

Lastly, for the pinnacle of the range Baume & Mercier offer the 42mm with either a transparent blue sapphire dial with stainless steel bracelet, or a transparent grey sapphire dial with black DLC case. These are sold as the flagship models within the range as they both feature the Baumatic in-house movement, which features an impressive five-day power reserve (120hrs), accuracy of -4s/+6s per day and it anti-magnetic to 1500 gauss. It’s worth noting that these models come with matching date wheel, as opposed to the white date wheels found in the rest of the collection.

Specs

Riviera 42mm Automatic - solid dials
Available colours: blue with rubber strap (Ref: 10619), blue (Ref: 10620), black (Ref: 10621), Silver (Ref: 10622)
Thickness: 10.66mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic
Power reserve: 38 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100m
Strap: Stainless steel
Price: from £2250

Riviera 42mm Automatic – sapphire dials
Available colours: blue (Ref: 10616), black (Ref: 10617)
Thickness: 10.66mm
Case: Stainless steel (blue), DLC (black)
Movement: Baumatic BM13-1975A
Power reserve: 120 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100m
Strap: Stainless steel (blue), Rubber (black)
Price: from £3170

Riviera 36mm Automatic
Available colours: Silver (Ref: 10615)
Thickness: 9.57mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic
Power reserve: 38 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Stainless steel
Price: from £2350

Riviera 36mm Quartz
Available colours: Azure blue (10612), Black with rubber strap (10613), Silver (Ref: 10614)
Thickness: 9.47mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: Ronda 714 Li quartz
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Stainless steel or rubber for black
Price: from £1640

The New Baume & Mercier Riviera 42mm Solid Dials - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

First thoughts
The Riviera appears to be a well-executed range that offers the buyer a great amount of choice. It’s also canny that Baume & Mercier have chosen 2021 to relaunch it given the current popularity of watches with integrated bracelets.

Whilst the new Riviera range is certainly recognisable as being born from the original, I’m glad that Baume and Mercier chose not to take the easy route by creating a like for like re-issue, just in a bigger case. Curiously, unlike fashion or cars of the time, many 70s watches seem to somehow escape looking like they’re stuck in a time-warp. Add to that, the inclusion of the Baumatic movement and the Riviera certainly manages to be a thoroughly modern watch.

I applaud Baume & Mercier for keeping the thickness down to a minimum and when combined with overall design and integrated bracelet, it should ensure the watch will wear incredibly well. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of a quick release mechanism for the bracelets and straps. It’s also great to see more brands experimenting with textured dials, no doubt spurred on by the success of watches such as the Grand Seiko snowflake.

Whilst there is lot to like here, I suspect that there will be some people, myself included, that will hope for the wider adoption of the baumatic movement across the range, not just the sapphire dial variants.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima models
The Classima has been a long-standing range within Baume & Mercier’s collection. New for 2021 are six models, three 31mm variants and three 42mm variants. Each comes in three dial colours – grey, green and white. Both sizes predominately utilise the same SW200 automatic movement with 42 hour power reserve.

The 31mm Classima comes in three variants. All models features a cabochon-shaped crown, roman numerals at the 6, 9, and 12 positions, leaf-shaped hands and a 3 o’clock date window. However, each reference also has features that are unique to it.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 31mm Automatic with Slate-Grey Dial - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

The 10610 has a slate-grey dial, an ETA 2892-A2 automatic movement visible through the display case back, and is the only watch in the range to feature diamond indexes. It measures just 8.25mm thick is fully cased in stainless steel with a matching five-link bracelet. This version is priced at £2180.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 31mm Quartz - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

The 31mm pastel green (10598) features a Swiss Ronda 704 quartz movement quartz, is even slimmer at just 5.95mm and forgoes diamond indices in favour of applied rhodium plated batons and roman numerals to match the hands. It comes on the same stainless steel bracelet as the 10610 slate dial version. As expected for a quartz, the price is considerably cheaper at £1140.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 31mm Automatic in Pink Gold - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

Finally, we have the 31mm 18ct pink gold version (10598) for those who are looking for a touch more luxury. It houses the well regarded ETA2892-A2 which has a 42 hours power reserve and beat rate of 28,800 VPH. Interestingly it has a titanium case back with sapphire window, rather than stainless steel, which actually looks great against the movement. It’s also a thinner watch than the steel version. Baume & Mercier claim a thickness of just 7.8mm. It’s not clear whether this is as a direct result of using titanium, but it’s certainly welcome on a dressy ladies watch. The dial is mother of pearl and the indices are all gilt finished. This version is only available on a black alligator strap, for a more traditional dress watch look.

Specs

Classima 31mm quartz, green dial (10598)
Diameter: 31mm
Thickness: 5.95mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: Swiss Ronda 704
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Black alligator
£1140

Classima 31mm automatic, slate-grey dial (10610)
Diameter: 31mm
Thickness: 8.25mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: ETA 2892-A2
Power reserve: 42 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Black alligator
£2180

Classima 31mm automatic pink gold (10598)
Diameter: 31mm
Thickness: 7.8mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: ETA 2892-A2 automatic
Frequency: 28,800 VPH / 4 Hz
Power reserve: 42 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Black alligator
£3500

New Baume & Mercier Classima 34mm Moonphase (10633)

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 34mm Moonphase - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

Perhaps the most romantic of all complications, but of limited use for most, the new automatic moon phase uses a 34mm stainless steel case and is the largest of the automatic ladies Classimas.  Perhaps of more use is the date window which sits at the three o'clock. This model is priced at £2660, and features blued hands - a mix of diamonds indices, with applied romans numerals at the 6, 12 and 9 o'clock positions - and a blue moon phase disk.  the Classima moon phase does of course feature a mother of pearl dial (seemingly obligatory for ladies watches). Ticking away inside and viewable through the sapphire case back is the Sellita SW280-1 movement,  which beats at 28,800 VPH and has a 38-hour power reserve. Winding is via a cabochon-shaped stainless steel crown. It is water resistant to 50m. Thickness is increased to 10.4mm, a necessary evil to fit the moonphase movement. It comes fitted with a shiny blue alligator strap.

New Baume & Mercier Classima 42mm

The 42mm is available in the three colourways. The main difference to the 31mm is that they feature a chapter ring which helps give the illusion of a diameter slightly smaller its dimensions and helps balance the proportions. The crown is also flat rather than cabochon-shaped. All versions have interchangeable quick-release straps.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 42mm Quartz - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

The cheapest of the three is the all-steel deep emerald-green quartz version (ref: 10607). It features white printed roman numerals at the quarter hours, combined with baton indices. The black date window sits at three o’clock and cuts into the roman numerals slightly. The case back is solid stainless steel. The movement used is a Swiss Ronda quartz and it’s priced at £940.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 42mm Automatic - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

Next up the scale is the slate-grey automatic variant. Other than the use of an ETA2892-A2 automatic movement, the key differences here are the blued hands, white date wheel and the fact it is supplied with a blue canvas strap with quick-release spring bars. Like its cheaper quartz sibling, it features a solid stainless steel case back.

The New Baume & Mercier Classima 42mm in Pink Gold - Image Credit: Baume & Mercier

Finally, topping the range is the 42mm pink gold, ref 10597. The gold version is also powered by the ETA2892-A2, but has a titanium case back with sapphire display window. Another upgrade is the applied gilt indices. It’s also slightly thinner at 7.7mm, features a more delicate minute track and is paired with a black alligator strap for a more traditional look.

Specs

Classima 42mm quartz green (10607)
Diameter: 42mm
Case: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 200m
Dial: Green, sun satin-finished
Glass: Sapphire
Strap: Grey-brown nubucked calfskin
£940

Classima 42mm automatic slate-grey (10608)
Diameter: 42mm
Thickness: 8.93mm
Case: Stainless steel
Movement: Automatic SW200
Frequency: 28,800 VPH / 4 Hz
Power reserve: 38 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Blue canvas
£1630

Classima 42mm automatic white (10597)
Diameter: 42mm
Thickness: 7.7mm
Case: 18ct pink gold
Movement: ETA2892-A2
Frequency: 28,800 VPH / 4 Hz
Power reserve: 42 hours
Glass: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50m
Strap: Black alligator leather
Price: £3950

First thoughts
First the plus points! The green is beautiful on the 42mm version, and Baume & Mercier always deliver when it comes to making their watches suitably slim. The ladies bracelet versions as reasonably successful as for some reason the design language seems more at home than it does on the men’s versions.

Sadly, there is more to point out in the way of downsides. The Classima range to me appears rather dull and it doesn’t offer anything special at the price point. The quartz versions seem a little pricey, and it’s a shame that most men’s versions don’t have applied indices or a bracelet option. Don’t forget that Baume & Mercier are up against some tough competition here from the likes of Oris, Hamilton and Longines, who all offer much stronger collections in my opinion. Lastly, the slate-grey men’s version with its blued hands doesn’t seem to quite work for me – something just looks a bit ‘off’ – the blue hands against a dark grey dial also lacks contrast.

Discover more about the new Baume & Mercier models