Compared to the fashion industry, the watch world has lagged behind when it comes to embracing ethical design. That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions. We’ve heard of how Chopard is going full steam ahead with using fair-mined gold with all of its products from this year. Then there are niche and indie watch brands like Melbourne-based Time IV Change which features cases crafted from recycled aluminium cases and vegan leather straps.
The latest player in the game is a Swiss watch brand whose name might ring a bell. Last week, horology conglomerate Richemont Group debuted Baume online. An off-shoot of the 188-year-old Baume & Mercier watch company, think of this new kid on the block as a diffusion label at a fashion house, with the purpose of targeting a younger, millennial audience. But just how is the brand changing the game? We list down the ways it’s staying “woke”.
#1: The look is fresh
Will this new launch revive the buzz for Baume & Mercier which is often overshadowed by the bigger boys in the Richemont family? While it seems too early to call, the two watch collections that Baume debuts show a great understanding of contemporary design.
That minimalist design approach means the dials are uncluttered, indexes come with neutral typefaces, and the lugs and bezel sport clean and organic lines. In short: these watches are legible and timeless sans the traditional and more conservative aesthetic often associated with luxury Swiss watch brands.
#2: Shopping for a watch is a breeze
Choosing your watch (from US$540 or S$725) is not rocket science. There are only two collections, for now, though the brand revealed that there might be a limited edition collaboration happening in the later part of this year.
The first collection is a range of customisable watches called the Custom Timepiece Series. The other is the Iconic Series which features an automatic timepiece with a recycled aluminium case and a texturised black strap made from PET (read: recycled plastic). The watch’s crown, which sits at the 12 o’clock spot, is a nod to Baume & Mercier’s heritage in pocket watches during the 19th century.
#3: Everything is sold online
Ditching the bricks-and-motar store, Baume joins the trend of luxury timepieces and jewellery being sold online. (Net-A-Porter recently launched an online platform to retail wares from brands like Cartier, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Boucheron, Chopard and Piaget). And yes, Baume ships to Singapore. Delivery for its customisable watches takes not more than 15 days while the Iconic watch can be shipped within 48 hours of ordering.
#5: The site is a customisation haven
Baume’s online configurator lets you choose from 2,160 permutations to create a one-of-a-kind piece. The options include the size of your watch, the type of case, the hands, the dials, straps and even engraving.
Beyond the surface aesthetics, customers can opt for the type of complications to add such as the moon phase or the small seconds. The fun part, however, is choosing the straps which come in a range of recycled materials like cork, linen and Alcantara.
#6: It tries to be green as much as possible
To appeal to the more environmentally-conscious market, the watches are devoid of any precious metals and animal leather. Instead, the brand uses recycled aluminium and not steel (because it requires up to 95 per cent less energy to recycle aluminium) and recycled PET bracelets.
Even the packaging sticks to that eco-philosophy by eliminating any secondary packaging and using FSC-certified paper and cardboard – which means they’re sourced in an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible and economically viable manner.
Now how about that for being woke?
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