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ADVERTISEMENT EDITORS’ PICKS A Week On The Wrist The Cartier Santos Hands-On The A. Lange & Söhne 'Homage To Walter Lange' Unique Piece In Steel At Phillips Geneva Editors' Picks Our Favorite Guilty Pleasure Watches Of 2018 Introducing Baume, A New W

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What we have here today is something pretty rare: a new brand within the Richemont Group that is being created from scratch rather than acquired from outside. Baume will be the new entry level offering in Richemont's watch portfolio, and the brand's goals are to reach a new audience by offering customization options and watches created through sustainable manufacturing processes.

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Two different options in the Custom Timepiece Series.

For pretty much anyone reading HODINKEE, the name "Baume" probably sounds familiar – it comes from the first half of Richemont brand Baume & Mercier. So, are the two related? Well, kind of. The person tapped to lead the new endeavor, Marie Chassot, is coming over from Baume & Mercier along with a few other execs, and, legally speaking, Baume is a sub-entity of Baume & Mercier. However, we're assured that Baume is much its own brand with its own designers, its own strategy, and its own watchmaking goals. This is not baby Baume & Mercier. 

The new company says that it's targeting less an age group than a mindset, by committing to not using any precious metals, precious stones, or animal materials in its watches. So you'll never see a gold Baume timepiece with diamond hour markers and a leather strap. Where possible, the watches will use upcycled, recycled, and natural materials. Another thing you'll notice is that all the watches have the crown at 12 o'clock instead of at the usual three o'clock position. The watches are currently being designed in Geneva, Switzerland, and assembled at a Richemont facility in the Netherlands. But Chassot told me that the goal is eventually to have assembly facilities in the various markets where Baume watches will be sold, cutting down on transit and carbon footprint.

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The Baume Iconic Series watch.

At its launch today, Baume will have two collections, the Iconic Series and the Custom Timepiece Series. The former contains a single mechanical reference at launch, and is considered the brand's flagship. The Iconic watch features a case made from aluminum (some of it recycled) and a strap made from 100% recycled PET (plastic). Its movement is an automatic caliber from Citizen-owned Miyota, and you can see part of it through the watch's semi-open dial. That dial, by the way, looks a little atypical, as the watch uses a 24-hour regulator layout, with a large minutes hand, a small 24-hour dial at six o'clock, and a runnings seconds dial at two o'clock. Baume says that a limited edition featuring other recycled materials will be coming later this year. The Iconic watch we have here is priced at $1,100 and serves as the starting point for the collection. 

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Baume's watches embrace materials not always used in luxury watchmaking.

As its name suggests, Baume's other collection, the Custom Timepiece Series, is, well, customizable. The collection will use an online configurator that allows users to pick from two different stainless steel case sizes (35mm and 41mm) and several colors (plain stainless steel, rhodium-plated steel, black PVD steel, and rose gold colored steel), a number of dial executions, and a handful of features and complications. At present, all watches in the Custom Timepiece Series are quartz, and the movements come from either Miyota or Ronda, depending on the feature set. For now, you can pick from time-and-date, day-date, and day-date with moonphase movements. Straps alone will offer quite a bit of opportunity for customization, with materials such as natural cork, cotton, and linen available. One can piece together a watch from the Baume Custom Timepiece Series lots and lots of different ways – over 2,000 different ways, in fact, and that's just what's being offered at launch.

This is not the first watch brand to play in the customization space, but it is the first to focus so heavily on the sustainability angle. It's no secret that much of the luxury industry struggles with the fact that sometimes its materials, whether gold or diamond, ostrich or stingray, take a toll on the planet. Baume plans to partner with organizations such as NGOs and brands outside of the watchmaking world on collaborations in the future.

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For the Custom Series, you can choose your materials, colors, and even mix of complications.

I think it's a smart play for a brand from a global luxury group to draw a line in the sand when it comes to how it plans to source and make its products. It's also a clever way to keep prices in line with what younger customers can actually afford while affirming their choices on ethical grounds rather than mere affordability. I think the decision to use a configurator for customization can also be seen as a way to reach not just the young, but all 21st-century consumers who have been conditioned to expect personalization in all things. I'm reminded of an episode of the newly launched – and excellent, I might add – Dave Chang Show podcast, in which the chef and Momofuku dynasty founder explains 

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