Angus Davies interviews Sandrine Donguy, Baume & Mercier

Angus Davies interviews Sandrine Donguy, Baume & Mercier at SIHH 2018.

Baume & Mercier recently released a highly innovative timepiece, the new Baumatic. Angus Davies chatted about this new watch with Sandrine Donguy, Baume & Mercier at SIHH 2018. Ms Donguy, the company’s Marketing & Communication Director, provided a useful insight into how the Genevan brand operates.

Sandrine Donguy - Marketing & Communications Director for Baume & Mercier

Since its foundation in 1830, Baume & Mercier has been an exemplar of affordable luxury. With its own design department and expertise in procuring high quality components, the Swiss watch company has repeatedly delivered quality and value for money.

While the aesthetic appearance of some Baume & Mercier watches could be termed ‘classical’, other models evince a decidedly ‘contemporary’ appearance. Nevertheless, irrespective of whether a watch is ‘classical’ or ‘contemporary’, a Baume & Mercier watch typically exhibits a high quotient of style.

Historically, the Genevan brand has procured Swiss movements from ETA, Sellita and La Joux-Perret. However, this year Baume & Mercier has unveiled a new in-house calibre, the Baumatic. This state of the art movement confers a number of desirable benefits which distinguish it as special.

I was eager to learn more about the Baumatic and seized the opportunity to talk to Sandine Donguy, Baume & Mercier. Ms Donguy is the Marketing & Communication Director for the Genevan brand.

Interview with Sandrine Donguy, Baume & Mercier (SD) by Angus Davies (AD)

AD: What do you think makes Baume & Mercier special?

SD: The heritage, we are the second oldest brand in the watch industry dating back to 1830.

We have a special way of manufacturing watches, termed établissage. This involves working with different suppliers of components and bringing these parts together to make fine watches. This approach delivers the best quality / price ratio for our clients.

This year we have delivered our first in-house movement, the Baumatic. We have collaborated with Richemont Group, in order to produce our own calibre. Our original idea was to think about client benefits, in particular the advantages we could deliver that would be useful when wearing a watch every day.

Baume & Mercier Baumatic - certified chronometer (COSC) with silicon hairspring

Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic 10436

We wanted antimagnetic properties, accuracy, a long power reserve and, finally, durability. The Baumatic delivers all of these benefits. Baume & Mercier has also developed four different oils for use in the escapement etc, raising the service intervals to five years. Yet, despite delivering all of these benefits, the watch is offered at a very affordable price.

AD: There is clearly an overlap between Baume & Mercier and other Richemont brands. How much autonomy do you have to compete with your sister companies?

SD: We are not really competing with the other Richemont brands because they are priced at a significantly higher level, with the exception of Montblanc. This brand distributes many of its products via its own retail outlets, whereas Baume & Mercier has a wholesale approach dealing with various retailers.

Baume & Mercier has 1800 points of sale across many markets. The USA, France, Italy and Asia are the main markets for Baume & Mercier. Our brand is different in terms of distribution, price positioning and product portfolio.

What is important to know is that for many customers of our brand, the purchase of a Baume & Mercier represents their first experience of a luxury watch. Often, they will go on to purchase a Cartier, Vacheron Constantin or Jaeger-LeCoultre.

AD: One of the highlights of SIHH this year is the Baume & Mercier’s collaboration with the Indian Motorcycle Company. Can you tell me a little bit more about this?

SD: We had a successful partnership with Shelby Cobra for three years. Thereafter, we were looking to be associated with another product category. So, we entered into a relationship with the Indian Motorcycle Company, based in the United States, which is a large market for Baume & Mercier. This really cool brand, with a rich heritage dating back to 1901, also shares the same patience for developing products, paying attention to details and optimising processes whenever they develop their products. We therefore decided to create specific watches, including the Clifton Club Burt Munroe Tribute and two further models, which acknowledge the iconic Indian motorcycle, the Chief.

Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Indian - chronograph with three subdials

Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Indian Legend Tribute Scout 10402

AD: I understand the know-how for the Baumatic came from a collaboration with Richemont Group. Can you explain why Baume & Mercier were the first to gain access to this technology and not other Richemont brands?

SD: We have a good relationship with the technical centre at Richemont. Our Director of Industrial Production, Daniel Braillard, expressed his interest in the technology used within the Baumatic and went on to collaborate with Richemont Group.

The other brands within the Richemont Group tend to have their own manufacture, hence they have their own approach regarding movements. However, the technology within Baumatic may well be of interest to the other maisons.

AD: Could we expect to see the know-how employed in the Baumatic being combined with complications? For example, a chronograph.

SD: This is something we are looking at, but we have no timescales for this. The first objective for Baume & Mercier was to produce a three-hand watch because this is what most of our clients are purchasing. However, we are thinking of different modules but wish to avoid increasing the thickness of our watches. We have no precise timescales but we are certainly thinking about it.

Closing remarks

Baume & Mercier is justly proud of its new in-house calibre, which delivers a plethora of benefits relevant to daily wear. Listening to Sandrine Donguy, Baume & Mercier it seems likely that the inaugural Baumatic models will, in due course, be joined with chronographs and other complications.

The know-how behind the in-house calibre was the result of Baume & Mercier and Richemont Group working together. While the Genevan watch brand is the first Richemont company to use the ‘Baumatic’ calibre, Ms Donguy clearly expects other sister-companies to show an interest in the research.

Beyond the Baumatic, Baume & Mercier clearly understands how to engage with new audiences. Indeed, its relationship with the Indian Motorcycle Company is likely to stimulate demand in the United States. However, beyond its marketing prowess, Baume & Mercier is a company which delivers substance. It produces high quality, stylish watches, offered at accessible prices. The strategy of being an établisseur has served Baume & Mercier and its clients very well. Indeed, it is very easy to understand why this Swiss maison has been in existence since 1830.

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