William Baume & Paul Mercier
Baume et Mercier is a Swiss luxury watchmaking company founded in 1830. It is owned by Richemont, and with Cartier and Piaget they make up the core of the group. This company is represented in 75 countries and produces around 200,000 watches a year. The most important markets are in Europe, especially Italy, Spain and France. Baume et Mercier is distributed by 220 exclusive retailers worldwide and has established itself as a manufacturer of sporty chronographs.
Native of Franche Comtï¿½, the Baume family settled in the Les Bois village in the Swiss Jura Mountains from 1542. Carrying out watch-manufacturing work the Baumes passed on their knowledge of watch mechanisms from father to son.
At the heart of a century marked by extraordinary scientific and industrial progress, brothers Louis Victor and Pierre-Joseph Cï¿½lestin Baume founded the house of the same name and registered it as an agency in the Les Bois village, in the Swiss Jura Mountains in 1830. There was only one motto: "Accept only perfection, only manufacture watches of the highest quality.ï¿½
Until 1840 the house manufactured watches with escapement wheels then introduced the cylinder escapement Lï¿½pine calibre to the Jura Mountains.
Possessing a keen business sense, the Baume brothers looked to set up in a major European capital city. They chose London. Pierre-Joseph-Cï¿½lestin Baume went to set up there in 1847 and founded "Baume Brothers" in 1851.
In 1880 the second generation took over. Alcide Eugï¿½ne son of Louis Victor, managed the Swiss entity and Arthur Joseph that of London. Sensible entrepreneurs, sensitive to the policy of their elders, they took part in building the railway linking Chaux-de-fonds to Saignelï¿½gier, not hesitating to have the line diverted to optimise delivery of their production. An example of their clear-sightedness that allowed them to emerge from obscurity and quickly acquire international recognition.
Baume & Co took part in the chronometry competition held at Kew Teddington near London for the first time in 1885 and won several prizes. In 1892, Baume & Co earned the highest mark ever awarded at the Kew competition during that era: 91.9 out of 100 for a "keyless chronometer watch, tourbillon movement". This record was only bettered 10 years later.
In 1912, William Baume, grandson of the founder, met the watchmaker and jeweler Paul Mercier at the Geneva watch and jewellery shop in Haas. The meeting resulted in the signing of an agreement on 26 November 1918 for the establishment of Baume et Mercier in Geneva. The Company was born on 27th August 1920. This proved to be a very successful enterprise, and in 1921 they were awarded the coveted Poincon de Geneve, official recognition of flawless quality products. Watches dating from this period are now rare collectors pieces, worth thousands of dollars. In 1937 William Baume withdrew from active business. He was followed into retirement by Paul Mercier, and the jeweler Constantin de Gorski joined the company accompanied by his master jewel-setter and male companion, Robert Peron.
After World War II Baume et Mercier concentrated on conventional men's watches, sports chronographs and ladies' jewellery watches.
The 20th October 1964, the brand registered the Greek letter PHI, symbol of the golden number and Leonard de Vinci's theory of proportion. The letter PHI is present on all Baume & Mercier designs.
In 1965 the Piaget family bought control over Baume et Mercier. One of the world's thinnest calendar watches with a mini rotor was produced under Piaget's aegis. In the same year the new owners switched to electronic tuning fork movements, and from 1970 increased investments in quartz movements.
In 1973 Baume & Mercier was awarded a prize for its creativity in jewellery watches by winning the Baden Baden Golden Rose in Dusseldorf with the Galaxie, Mimosa and Stardust models.
At the end of the 1983, Baume et Mercier temporarily ceased production of mechanical watches. In 1988, Christian and Yves Piaget sold 60% of their stake to Piaget holding S.A., also selling Baume et Mercier S.A. to Cartier Monde S.A. in Paris.
The Baume & Mercier brand joined the Richemont group in 1993.
Since October 2002, the Baume & Mercier watch-making house has been the owner of its own casing workshop in Les Brenets, a few kilometres from the village of Les Bois in the Franches Mountains, birthplace of the watch-making roots of the Baume family.