Baume & Mercier’s new ladies’ collection achieved an impressive feat at this year’s SIHH by becoming a talking point… through its absence!
At the time, company CEO Alain Zimmermann explained his strategic decision to postpone the launch of the new collection: “If I tell you about it now, you will talk about it immediately and there will be too great a gap between now and when the actual pieces are available in September.” Well played. The brand was thus able to focus all its attention on its masculine collections, while gearing up to secure maximum attention later.
“Later” was June 5th in Paris, where Baume & Mercier unveiled its new ladies’ line – Promesse – in grand style. In the setting of a typically Parisian urban mansion in the Marais quarter, Alain Zimmermann, CEO, and David El Hayani, Director, France, paid tribute to feminine elegance with this brand-new collection that will henceforth take its place alongside the Linea line.
What difference will this make? It will mean that Baume & Mercier is now one of the rare brands to have perfectly gender-balanced collections, with three for men (Clifton, Classima, Capeland) and three for women (Linea, Promesse, and the unisex Hampton).
At the official launch of Promesse, Baume & Mercier was careful to situate the collection’s origins within the context of the brand heritage. Seven display windows presented the enduring mark that the company has made on feminine watchmaking: the Marquise on a bangle-type bracelet, the futuristic Galaxie, the subtle Etrier watch, the very trendy Catwalk and the versatile Linea – all of which were milestones in their respective eras.
So what are these long-awaited Promesse creations? They are undeniably classical pieces featuring carefully mastered audacity and discreet diameters that will enable them to take their place on the watchmaking scene, particularly in Asia.
An XXL launch comprising 14 references
No less than 14 models were unveiled. They are available in two formats: 30 and 34 mm. This is a clear reference to models from the 1950s and 60s, decades well accustomed to such dainty sizes that are making a strong comeback among women today.
The two versions will be available with a quartz (Ronda 782) movement or an automatic (ETA-based) calibre endowed with a standard 42-hour power reserve. Having said that, the technical variations are the same as always: hours, minutes and seconds on the automatic models only. One must salute the wise decision not to add a date window for the time being. This is a tricky exercise often entailing a virtually illegible indication on a 30mm model.
A thing about asymmetry
What is most surprising within this broad initial collection is the aesthetic potential it affords. The key overall principle is that of asymmetry, already featured in the Lady 8 by Jaquet Droz. The Promesse thus offers an especially broad outer bezel ring, providing scope for a wide variety of decorative options: it thus appears in mother-of-pearl, gold-toned, gem-set, black or steel interpretations, and in all kinds of combinations with the rest of the case. One also notes that the crown is recessed into the case middle, so as to preserve the perfectly round profile.
When it comes to the watch face, guillochage is definitely the key word. “Draped” is Baume & Mercier’s definition of this engraving that suffuses the dial with a soft iridescence radiating from the centre. The four applied hour-markers in no way restrict this effect, which is that of a Promesse exuding a spirit of freedom and which takes on a special sparkle when its dial is set with diamond hour-markers. The model may be teamed with a wide range of steel bracelets and satin or leather straps, although the brand has not reprised the interchangeable strap system for which its Linea line is famous.
The mechanical movement is revealed through a sapphire crystal fitted in the case-back. In contrast, the solid back of the quartz version seems somewhat austere, although the finish on the oscillating weight and the circular graining visible on the movement side are aesthetically pleasing.
To conclude, the price is Baume & Mercier’s trump card. It will retail in Europe for between 1,550 and 5,900 euros. This is a lucrative albeit very crowded segment. Our bet is that Baume & Mercier will live up to all its Promesse(s).