Baume & Mercier's Hampton: the story of a legend
Baume & Mercier's Hampton Collection
Atlantic rollers, wind-swept dunes, picnics on blankets,
sun-freckled noses and sand in between your toes. Memories of the
happiest, most carefree moments of your life when days end with a
campfire roasted marshmallow and a glass of Merlot as the sun sets
on another sun-bleached day of bliss.
It is these beautiful moments that have inspired Swiss watch
company Baume & Mercier's Hampton collection. But just how are
all of these fleeting moments, feelings and moods captured in a
The design team at Baume & Mercier's Geneva head quarters
started by turning back the clock and looking through the archives
of its rich history. And fortunately, the Baume family who started
their watch-making venture in 1830 in the remote mountain village
of Les Bois in the Swiss Jura, were meticulous diary keepers and
devoted journalists. From the yellowing pages of flowing
ink-penned script, surely lit by gaslight, comes to life the story
of a family determined to succeed beyond the snowy confines of
their isolated Swiss valley.
From a humble 'comptoir' or counter where the Baume brothers
sold watches in the days when the steam engine was just a distant
rumour to establishing a presence in Clerkenwell, London,
subsequent generations of Louis-Victoire Baume's tenacious family
went on to conquer the world.
Winners of precision prizes at observatories and makers of fine
gold-cased pocket watches and high-specification chronographs, the
Baumes were joined by Paul Mercier in 1918, who brought business
acumen and design ideas for a changing world. It was Mr Mercier who
encouraged the watchmakers to make dainty women's 'baignoire'
or bath-tub shaped watches in the 1920's emboldening the house to
later revive post-war doldrums with the introduction of La
Marquise, a new bracelet watch for a new generation of women.
With such a bounteous history for inspiration, it was the 1940
Hampton watch that sparked the imagination of Baume & Mercier's
designers. The self-confident lines of this Art Deco timepiece
speak of the optimism of the era in which the light of science and
reason would shine its light on a brave new future. The
generously domed crystal would have been a talking piece and the
clean, pared down lines echoed the architecture and cubist painting
that was shaking up the world.
The new Hamptons family is directly inspired by this watch that
now safely resides in Baume & Mercier's museum. Generous
proportions, new colours and a host of pleasing details bring this
enduring design up to date. The very name of the watch, Hampton,
encouraged Baume & Mercier to explore the lifestyle of this
privileged enclave with an eclectic artistic community that has
included Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol who rubbed shoulders with
barefoot tycoons and the free-spirited heirs of America's elite.
Warm metal tones, sun-brushed dials, gray and slate, white and
silver echo the Atlantic light of the Hamptons. The case
backs are decorated with a sundeck engraving and every watch,
whether on a supple metal bracelet or leather or alligator strap is
easy to wear and slips in with your mood, whether you are walking
on the beach with your with your evening dress catching the surf or
pulling on a fisherman's sweater over your faded denims. This
easy-going elegance flows through the new Hampton collection with
the freshness of Atlantic breezes on a perfect summer's