Baume & Mercier Hampton 10523
As teased during the opening of the 2020 digital Watches and Wonders, Baume & Mercier's hero collection is, this year, the redesigned Hampton. It was never phased out, but the current offering was restricted to a few references, and never in the headlines. Scrolling through time, you'll discover a Hampton for him was never missing from the brand's portfolio, and here is what the brand managed to add with the new timepieces.
The 2020 Baume & Mercier Hampton comes in three options and two sizes: a smaller variant, a unisex three-hander, and two bigger ones that aim to attract men. With the lockdown being finally behind us, we were allowed to take our hands on the new Hampton, with the top-of-the-range timepiece coming under our loupe. We discovered the new watches during a press media event held last February, but, back then, we were not allowed to take any pictures. The Hampton reaffirms Baume & Mercier's pedigree as a manufacturer of quintessentially classic looking timepieces housing remarkable mechanical complications. Still, please forget those Haute-Horlogerie complications introduced years ago with flagship models like the Clifton Tourbillon, for example. The new strategy aims at strengthening value for money.
The Baume & Mercier Hampton 10523 packs, as stated above, appealing mechanical complications, like the outsized date and dual time display, without clearing your bank account. Additionally, it reveals the direction the brand's designers took when they began the product's overhaul. The Hampton 10523 is an Art-Dèco inspired automatic watch measuring 48mm in length, and 31mm in width, with the case thickness stopping at 11,1mm in height. It offers dual time zone display (the counter placed at six), day-and-night indication and Big date display, and it is yet a different take compared to its previous siblings, like the Hampton City or the Hampton Square XL, to name a few. The new one follows the likes of timepieces like the Reverso or the Dunhill City Fighter (I own both), with the latter being the closest thing to this Hampton, in both product philosophy and functions.
The Art Deco style was trendy during the early 1920s and is back in business. It has such a unique charm and elegance; many independent brands too recently began offering products whose source of inspiration is this classic. From a technical perspective, the Baume & Mercier has always been a watch aficionado's favorite choice: by surfing the Internet, you'll discover that one of the most coveted references is the MOA10032, which housed an exquisite column-wheel chronograph movement. My perception is that we're at the dawn of a new chapter, with the 10523 being the top-end offering for the time being.
If we were allowed to place all the Hampton collections one alongside the other, I'd reckon the Baume & Mercier Hampton 10523 is, at least stylistically, the most refined and detailed Hampton ever conceived. The case is flat on sides and squared; a domed glass covers the dial and lugs are broad and curved to help it wrap around your wrist. The alligator strap is integrated into the case. It has a quick-release device underneath (I guess the brand will soon offer a steel option), but it is too stiff and comes with a triple folding buckle, something I would quickly swap with a tang buckle instead.
However, the game-changer here is the new dial layout and style. Featuring an opaline silver dial (let's expect more color options along the way), it has a mixed perlage and grained finish, paired to elongated riveted indexes and a single Arabic numeral placed at twelve. They stand out over the small big date window and dual time register. The result is a sleek, assertive, compliant look.
It touches and feels more luxurious and understated than any previous iteration. Through a macro, you can appreciate the attention to detail, like the tiny grain finish and the double-stepped big date window. Under the hood, Baume & Mercier placed a Soprod TT651 caliber, which is an ETA 2892-A2 base with the addition of a big date and GMT functions module, on top. When fully wound, it guarantees 42 hours of maximum power reserve, which is a bit of a letdown, in this class of products.
I would have offered extended warranty instead (you can access a one-year extended warranty, only if you're buying a Baumatic), given the majority of the brands belonging to the Richemont group stand out for their guarantee well beyond the standard two years' warranty. The Baume & Mercier Hampton 10523 is a welcomed classic addition to the Swiss brand's product portfolio. It is unequivocally Baume & Mercier, as is the Classima, with the Clifton Baumatic playing the technological hero. I hope Baume & Mercier will evaluate adding a hand-wind option anytime soon. The Hampton 10523 retails for 3,950 Euros.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®