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Editorial - Taking watches into the circular economy

Editorial Taking watches into the circular economy

Brand-new brand Baume is shaking up the way watches are designed, produced and sold.

Baume & Mercier is gradually chipping away at its name. Less than six months after presenting the innovative Baumatic movement at the SIHH, Richemont’s entry-level brand is once again the focus of the group’s push into accessible luxury and e-commerce market with its new online-only brand “Baume”. It appeared seemingly overnight last Wednesday, with a 5pm press release that was clearly aimed at the US market. 

Given the overuse of the word “iconic” by luxury watch brands, I like to think that the choice of “Baume” as the brand name and “Iconic” as one of the collections are both ironic. That the second collection is called “Custom Timepiece” would seem to confirm my assumption. The time and effort the brand saved on finding names was clearly put to good use in developing an elegant and well thought-out website ready to greet customers eager to design their first Baume watch.

The most refreshing aspect of this new brand is that it attempts to incorporate the ideas of the so-called circular economy into its business model. This involves shifting from the traditional linear “make-use-dispose” model to an approach that minimises waste and environmental impact. You will not find any precious metals or materials of animal origin in Baume watches. There is a preference for recycled, or recyclable, materials such as aluminium (for the case) and recycled PET plastic, natural cotton, linen, cork or alcantara (for the straps). Even the packaging has been reduced to a minimum and is made of FSC certified cardboard. 

This approach explains why Baume stopped short of using a concept like Swatch’s low-cost Sistem51 mechanical movement, which cannot be repaired or replaced, in favour of using Japanese mechanical movements by Miyota and quartz movements by Miyota or Ronda. It also explains the online-only distribution model, which in future may even involve delocalised production so that the watches can be produced on-demand as close as possible to the customer (they are currently produced and shipped from a Richemont facility in the Netherlands), further reducing waste and the brand’s carbon footprint.

I like the approach taken by Baume, which takes the demands of the customer of tomorrow seriously. Although the brand claims that price is a secondary issue in its philosophy, starting prices under 500 euros for watches that you can customise are likely to cause a stir at fashion watch brands far beyond the Swiss border. 

The brand

The Baume & Mercier watchmaking Maison has always had powerful emotional and celebratory connotations, while expressing watchmaking excellence in all its creations. Since 1830, it has embodied a family history in which a passion for detail and a quest for excellence convey a firm commitment: to perpetuate its heritage while being an essential partner of memorable moments. For Baume & Mercier, time is far more than just a sequence of seconds,...

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