Baume et Mercier (bohm ay mers-yay) is a Swiss luxury watchmaking company founded in 1830. It is owned by Richemont, and with Cartier and Piaget they make up the core of the group. This company is represented in 75 countries and produces around 200,000 watches a year. The most important markets are in Europe, especially Italy, Spain and France. Baume et Mercier is distributed by 220 exclusive retailers worldwide and has established itself as a manufacturer of sporty chronographs.
In 1834, members of the Baume family founded the Societe Baume Feres in the village of Les Bois, in the Swiss Jura. The Baumes had already been active in watchmaking for many years. At first, the priority went to enameled pocket watches. In 1844 Joseph Celestin Baume went to England to set up business relations there. Watches signed « Waterloo », « Diviko » and « Sirdar » opened distant markets in Australia and New Zealand. The family company gave convincing proof of its dedication to mechanical elegance and precision when one of its timepieces won the 1893 timing competitions at the Kew-Teddington Observatory with a score of 91.9 out of a possible 100. In 1912, William Baume met the watchmaker and jeweler Paul Mercier at the Geneva watch and jewellery shop in Haas. The meeting resulted in the signing of an agreement on 26 November 1918 for the establishment of Baume et Mercier in Geneva. This proved to be a very successful enterprise, and in 1921 they were awarded the coveted Poincon de Geneve, official recognition of flawless quality products. Watches dating from this period are now rare collectors pieces, worth thousands of dollars. In 1937 William Baume withdrew from active business. He was followed into retirement by Paul Mercier, and the jeweler Constantin de Gorski joined the company accompanied by his master jewel-setter and male companion, Robert Peron.
After World War II Baume et Mercier concentrated on conventional men’s watches, sports chronographs and ladies’ jewellery watches. In 1965 the Piaget family bought control over Baume et Mercier. One of the world’s thinnest calendar watches with a mini rotor was produced under Piaget’s aegis. In the same year the new owners switched to electronic tuning fork movements, and from 1970 increased investments in quartz movements. At the end of the 1983, Baume et Mercier temporarily ceased production of mechanical watches. In 1988, Christian and Yves Piaget sold 60% of their stake to Piaget holding S.A., also selling Baume et Mercier S.A. to Cartier Monde S.A. in Paris. In 1993 the Cartier group became sole owners of both Piaget and Baume et Mercier.