Alain Zimmermann - CEO Baume & Mercier
Talking watches, cars and the future of watchmaking
Rather than an interview, I would define my meeting with Alain Zimmermann, Baume & Mercier’s CEO, as a pleasant conversation between two watches and cars enthusiasts; I am talking about real cars, like the Shelby Cobra CSX 2299 on display at the brand’s booth at the SIHH 2017 in Geneva. The character that opens our new “People by Horbiter®” column is the man himself.
This is neither a scheduled follow-up of our January experience in Geneva, nor the classic interview with a recorder, but it is rather the result of a spontaneous conversation centered on the 2017 "hero" collection; the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club and ended with a preview of the first collaborative project that will see Horbiter® and Baume & Mercier work together on a digital project related to the world of motorsport and watches and that will be released between the end of the first semester and the beginning of the second semester.
The interview took place during the "Salone del Mobile"; an event that nowadays involves the world of designing in the broadest sense of the term and that now welcomes brands coming from different sectors too. The world of watch-making is one of those sectors and so is the world of cars and engines. Design is transversal and designers usually come from various fields, migrating constantly from one business to another. I would like to thank the jewelry shop “Cielo Milano” for hosting us and Baume & Mercier Italy, especially Carmela Novissimo, Marketing and Communication Manager and Laura Rossetti, PR Manager for giving me this opportunity.
The values inspiring Baume & Mercier and the Clifton Club.
Baume & Mercier is a stronghold in Italy and, during the days of the Salone del Mobile, Milan is the undisputed European capital. The brand is highly regarded in our county and it features some collections that literally live in the heart of Italian people; the “Classima” is one of them. The Swiss three hands timepiece, the so-called "graduation watch" as it is nicknamed by young American graduates, represents a perfect triangle, whose tops are its elegant style, the quality of the product, and an exceptionally competitive price, when you consider how much this watch can offer. Soon, however, our conversation focuses on the big piece of news of the year; the Baume & Mercier Clifton Club.
This is an entire new collection that, as confirmed by Alain Zimmermann himself, opened a new season for Baume & Mercier. A project that saw the re-editing of the Clifton collection in a completely new way and that fully involved all of the major markets the brand is active in. Every market contributed to the birth of this new sports collection; the full expression of the values represented by the brand (team spirit, respect, substance).
In summary, the expression of a non-arrogant style, almost assertive when it comes to making watches, one of the best representatives of Swiss creativity, where the product is at the center of everything. A collection that offers so many proposals to fit almost every occasion; the rubber strap version has such a different personality from that expressed by the stainless steel model with the blue bezel. A perfect casual dress watch, so thin - and we stressed this point during our article - to perfectly fit under the cuff of your shirt.
Among the strengths of the Clifton Club collection is an obsessive attention to detail, every detail is extremely thought out and transmits premium values; from the great PHI logo applied on the dial - as they used to do many years ago on the legendary Riviera – moving to the rubber strap with thin buttonholes, all the way up to the technical fabric and leather strap. To top it all, there is something that we both agreed on, and that I had already noticed during the press conference in Geneva; the new NATO rubber strap with a personalized Baume & Mercier buckle is definitely the most beautiful NATO strap that a Clifton Club could ever sport.
The strap is so good that you would not even think about looking for a different one among the products of the endless manufacturers of aftermarket straps to replace the original bracelet. Those, who really love watches, are extremely picky and details drive them to choose a brand over another. From this point of view, Baume & Mercier is among those brands that really take care of details; not only the aesthetic details but also the technical ones, and this is the approach that proved successful, when the brand presented its high-end Clifton watches too. Among these, the Perpetual Calendar was a huge success among critics and buyers alike, the same way it happened with his predecessors (the Tourbillon, the Minute Repeater, the Eight Days Power Reserve).
Baume & Mercier and smartwatches.
Will the Swiss ever craft a smartwatch? As per Alain Zimmermann, who was quite happy to answer this question (a question he was probably expecting considering that also the other brands of the Richemont Group have decided to enter this industry, as Montblanc recently did) it seems that Baume & Mercier is not going to get into a sector in which, objectively speaking, the concept of obsolescence exceeds that of ownership over the long term; one of the founding values of the Swiss brand.
A Baume & Mercier wristwatch does not supply the replacement market, but whoever buys one of these timepieces, tends to keep it for a long time. The concept of obsolescence and digital technology, do not get along with this technology.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Karin Vettorel)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®