Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baume & Mercier Vintage Timepieces

I had the rare opportunity recently to get my grubby hands on some stunning vintage and museum pieces from Baume & Mercier. These rare timepieces were brought in especially for an event and it’s not everyday you get to see them, let along actually handling them and taking macro photos of them at the same time.

Baume & Mercier has had a long history of watchmaking, (one of the top 10 oldest watch companies, in fact) and since 1830, they have been producing some very interesting watches. The museum collection showcases some of them.

It’s always a great pleasure and really really exciting to see rare and vintage pieces (is my geeky side showing? I suppose the whole “watch collecting” thing is kinda geeky already…maybe this will earn me a place on “Beauty and the Geek”…) and to learn a bit more about the history of the brand and what they have produced in the past. Many watches I’ve never even seen before or even knew B&M made anything like it.

Since my vintage watch knowledge is very limited, I think I’ll just let the pictures tell the story. So here they are, in no particular order...

Here's a piece from the 1950s. To me this watch is a dead ringer for the IWC Portuguese in terms of the dial and the numerals, the round dots for minutes. I love the lugs on this watch, and the case inspired their new William Baume collection.

I suppose "Tronosonic" is just a fancy 70s speak for the movement they call in French "diapason" or, to you and I, a tuning fork movement. The basic priciple of the tuning fork is that it vibrates at a certain frequency, which converts this vibration into rotary movement of the gear train. You'll also find that tuning fork watches don't tick- they "hum".

Hailing from the 1950s this is a very interesting concept where the hour and minutes are not represented by hands, but 2 discs, each with a "dot" on it to indicate the time.

The "Baumatic" or "Intramatic" is 1980s speak for a movement that contains an offset microrotor, meaning a very thin automatic movement, thus a thin watch. Being thin was all the rage back in those days... unlike the "chunky" style we seem to favour today.

A ladies dress watch from the 70s (sorry that's all i got...)

This is my absolute favourite piece out of everything I saw. It's a pendant watch that you can wear around the neck. Although it only dates back to the 1970s, its art deco inspired style is classic and timeless. You can actually close the outer shell so the watch is hidden, but I was advised not to...

a couple of classic chronographs

something for the ladies from the 1920s

a couple of white gold pieces from the mid 1960s, when the integrated soldered bracelet was the fashion. Just make sure you look after them since, well, if it's broken, it's not the easiest thing to fix...

Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Since Baume & Mercier's style tend to reflect the fashion of the time, it is quite easy to place them to their respective time period and it also gives us the chance to see evolution over time, and how some styles are more timeless than others...



Howard said...

I love the look of the classic chronographs. Ever since I bought my Mondaine watch, I've resorted back to analogue watches. Thanks for the tip off :)

The Sydney Tarts said...

They're beautiful, aren't they? I love your Mondaine and there's something about vintage watches that is magical :)


The Sydney Tarts said...

Thanks for an amazing post onomatopia! I wish that I'd had an opportunity to see these watches....now I have a vintage B&M craving LOL.