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Vintage, Gent’s 18k pink gold, self-winding, water resistant, antimagnetic, center seconds, limited edition wristwatch, with hand stitched black leather strap and 14k pink gold tang buckle Ref. 3112, case number 646056, movement made for Baume & Mercier by Felsa, Grentchen, Switzerland, made and sold by Baume & Mercier, Geneva, Switzerland, made circa 1955-1960. Accompanied by the original jeweler’s box.
Belonged to my father, looks to be hardly ever worn. Has been stored away in its original box. Never exhibited.
Case: 35mm diameter, 18k pink gold, round two leaf, dress wristwatch with polished 18k gold canted round bezel, fluted gold crown with gold cabochon, turned back straight lugs, screwed down round gold case back cover, marked, “Shock Absorber, Automatic, Swiss Made, 18C, 646036, 3112, waterproof, anti-magnetic”. The inside of the back cover is not shown but most likely it reads, “Baume & Mercier, Geneve, 18K, 0.750with the profile of Helvetia the Swiss hallmark for 18k gold. Also likely to have a poinçon de Maître in the form of a Hammer head. There may even be a number 141, for example, inside the hammer head. This meant that the Gabus Freres watch company of Oracier, Switzerland guaranteed the quality of the gold metal for Baume & Mercier.
Dial: Polished (mirror like) gold metal dial with applied gold dart hour indices, doubled at the quarter hours 3, 6, 9 & 12). There is a textured Clous de Paris (aka- hobnail) rectangular design in the center of the dial –the upper part marked Baume & Mercier with star logo and the lower part reading, “Automatic”. There are gilt Dauphin hands and a center sweep seconds pointer.
Movement: Not Shown but during this era Baume and Mercier were using different watch manufacturers to supply their movements I addition to making some of their own, such as the Baumatic movements of the 1960s
Using their own technology. (A Micro-rotor powered movement, the Baumatic, utilizes the smallest automatic rotor in the world, yet is so efficient it carries a two-day power reserve. Not only did Baume & Mercier utilize this technology among others, later, Patek Philippe and Chopard adopted it for use in their own exclusive, micro-rotor powered models.) However, in this slightly earlier example the movement is most likely the Bidynator made by the Felsa Watch Company of Grentchen, Switzerland. This would likely be the Felsa caliber 690 Bidynator with self-winding and center seconds. This is a movement first made by Felsa in 1942 and used by watch companies such as Baume & Mercier, Glycine, Eldor Geneve and Buttes. This was a 26mm diameter movement usually made with 17 jewels, but at times with 18/21 and 25 jewels. The B&M used the 17 jeweled movement which vibrated at 18000 beats/hour with a power reserve of 44 hours on a single winding and used Incabloc shock proofing.
Case: Excellent front and back.
Black hand-stitched leather strap with 14k gold buckle is excellent.
Dial – Excellent
Movement – not seen nor evaluated but will assume it is original to this case, genuine and functional.
Original B&M jeweler’s box is in very good condition.
BAUME & COMPANY EARLY HISTORY -
Founded circa 1830 by Louis Victor Baume in Les Bois, Switzerland, with his brother they opened a London office in 1844, Baume Freres. Thereafter, it would remain an Anglo Swiss horological enterprise.
Arthur Baume Managing Director of Baume & Co., 21 Hatton Garden, the London branch of Baume, a Swiss watch manufacturer based in the village of Les Bois, in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Arthur Baume was a prominent figure in Europe. A member of the Royal Geographical Society, he also became president of the British Horological Institute. He was made a knight, and later an officer, of the Legion of Honor, and was twice decorated by French President PoincarrÃ©. The King of Belgium made him a Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II.
As well as their own watches, Baume & Company were the importer of Longines watches to the UK and all of the British Commonwealth. Otherwise, unmarked Longines watches from the early 20th century often bear the mark "B & Co." for Baume & Co. next to the movement calibre number under the balance wheel. Baume watches earned ever-growing success and recognition under the impetus of the second generation.
The House distinguished itself at the national exhibitions and world fairs that began to be organized from the second half of the 19th century onwards, in Paris (1878 and 1889), Melbourne (1890 and 1895), Zurich and Amsterdam (1883), London (1885 and 1890) and Chicago (1893), winning ten Grand Prix awards and seven gold medals.
Baume watches also set accuracy records in timekeeping competitions, and particularly the timing trials run by Kew Observatory near London. When the Baume Company first competed in the Kew Teddington competition in 1885, three of its watches were ranked among the top seven, and the following year, four of them won awards.
In 1892, Baume earned the highest score in the competition (91.9 points out of a 100) with a split-second chronograph, an all-time record that remained unbeaten until over a decade later. Up to the early 20th century, the brand won a steady succession of prizes for its simple and complicated watches, all equipped with the most advanced technological features. In London, Arthur Baume became a leading figure in the United Kingdom. He was named a knight of the Legion of Honor, and later became an officer, and was twice decorated by French President PoincarrÃ© in person.
The King of Belgium made him a Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II, and he was received at the official state dinner given in honor of the King of England, George V, and Queen Mary. A member of the Royal Geographical Society, Arthur Baume was appointed president of the British Horological Institute in London. Born in Odessa to a Russian father, Paul Mercier was a passionate and refined individual, a dedicated art-lover who spoke seven languages and was endowed with exceptional business acumen.
Despite their very different yet complementary temperaments, the two men, shared the same vision of contemporary watchmaking, and decided to join forces in 1918 to create Baume & Mercier. William Baume handled technical aspects, while Paul Mercier was in charge of design and the commercial side of the business. Together, they established a full-fledged watch manufacture in Geneva, making top-quality watches as well as movements that were exported to the United States.
~BAUME & MERCIER RECENT HISTORY:
Following WW II Constantin Gorski helped the Baume and the Mercier families to develop new watch styles.
Gorski died in 1958 and shortly thereafter the Baume brothers retired. Baume & Mercier was purchased in
1963/1964 by jeweler and watch manufacturer Piaget. The Piaget ownership contributed to the brand by adopting the Greek letter Phi and its associated Golden Ratio as symbols for Baume & Mercier. Piaget also provided technical expertise in the form of ultra-slim movements. Watches from this period are often found with Piaget movements. Also under the Piaget leadership, in 1973 Baume & Mercier introduced the Riviera, with its unique dodecahedral case. In production for more than 30 years this style has been integral to the brand’s success. When Cartier launched their takeover of Piaget in 1988, control of Baume & Mercier came with it. Shortly thereafter, in 1993 all three brands were enveloped within the Vendôme Group, which was bought out by the Richemont group in 1998.
Shortly after being acquired by the Vendôme group, Baume & Mercier introduced their flagship Hampton line. The commercial success of the Hampton was rapidly followed by the Hampton Milleis, Hampton Spirit and Hampton City. During this tumultuous period Baume & Mercier wavered between moving up market and moving into the fashion sector. Recently the brand has begun to emerge with a clearer vision under the leadership of the new CEO Michel Nieto. Baume & Mercier opened a new manufacture in Brenets in 2004. At the same time the company has retained a good price to quality ratio that enables them to stay on the forward edge of style with new models such as the Diamant and the Vice Versa, as well as reinvented versions of the Classima and Riviera. The company intends to remain a brand of volume; recent estimates put their sales at more than 200,000 pieces per year.
SOME SIMILAR COMPARABLES:
~https://shop.hodinkee.com/products/18k-gold-baumatic-case-161276?variant=39303691796555 (This is a semi retail value when purchased from Hodinkee. Cost $1900)
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/112431169_baume-and-mercier-riviera-watch-ref-83212 (made in 1973 the Riviera was 18k gold and was passed when it did not reach $600 in 2021)
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/110701356_authentic-baume-and-mercier-pure-gold-stainless-steel (slim model from the 1960s sold in 2021 at auction for $3700)
~https://www.ebay.com/itm/124354834485 (offered for $1185 on eBay currently, has heavy scratches to the casing, but all original)
~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/39407883_baume-and-mercier-gold-wristwatch-ref-3143-c-1955 (sold for $687 in 2015 and made in 1955 with Bidynator movement)
~https://www.chrono24.com/baumemercier/baume--mercier-vintage-baume--mercier-geneve-14-kt-solid-gold-wristwatch--id19140307.htm (similar, same era, but manually wound and 14k, offered retail for $1500)
The condition of your watch is its single greatest appeal, quite untouched, literally and figuratively from what you say. The Bidynator movement is far from a great movement but it lasted quite a number of years and served the world well for two decades after the end of WWII. This is a very rare bird indeed and I think that the fair market value of your fine watch if you offered it for sale would be in the range of $2250-$2500. Retail values may be near $5000. I hope you keep this family watch and treasure it. It will only gain in value.
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