How the Great War Forged an Exceptional Watchmaking Partnership
Tuesday - 28 May 2013
There are special moments in history when things happen that forge a path that will to continue to change lives decades or centuries into the future. In these moments friendships are established, business partnerships are formed, and memories are created.
Such a moment happened in the wake of World War I. An accomplished young watchmaker, William Baume, had the vision to recognise times were changing. During the War, the wristwatch, which had then been around for nearly half a century, finally became the timepiece of choice for young men, being far more practical on the front lines than a pocket watch.
What's more, watch movements were getting smaller, and women were starting to wear watches as elegant jewellery items such as brooches, necklaces and bracelets.
Baume, whose family had been manufacturing pocket watches in the Swiss Jura for almost a century, realised that his company needed to adapt with the times. He moved to Geneva, where he met a refined and stylist Franco-Russian art collector called Tchereditchenko.
Tchereditchenko was a colourful figure, fluent in seven languages, a regular frequenter of art galleries with a natural eye for beauty and business.
Baume approached Tchereditchenko with a business proposition. Baume had decided to update his range of watches. Would Tchereditchenko help him design the new watches?
Tchereditchenko was delighted to accept, and together the two men set up a business venture.
There was one problem: Tchereditchenko's name was a bit of a mouthful, and alien to the Franco-German culture of Switzerland, as well as to the American market where they planned to export their watches. In typical fashion, Tchereditchenko had the ideal solution - he'd adopt his French mother's maiden name.
Tchereditchenko became Paul Mercier, and with that was born the watchmaking house Baume & Mercier.
In 1919, a little over a year after the company was founded, Baume & Mercier was awarded the Geneva Hallmark, the highest award for fine craftsmanship in watchmaking.
By 1924, they were listed in the Davoine official watch industry directory, together with only three other Geneva-based watchmakers.
Today, Baume & Mercier has returned to Baume's roots by relocating manufacturing to the Swiss Jura.
Reflecting the special meeting of minds that sparked over nine decades of beautiful watches, special moments remain part of the company's vision and values.
"Baume & Mercier has an incomparable ability to make its mark on the memories of these special moments," the company says.
What place do watches have in your special memories?
Let a Baume & Mercier watch leave its mark on your special moments. Browse our collection here
Image credit: Geneva Sunrise by Nouhailler.