“So, where do we even begin with the (deep breath) Baume & Mercier Hampton ‘Hommage à Pierre Soulages’?”
I’ll be frank with all of you, just trying to pronounce the full name of the Baume & Mercier Hampton “Hommage à Pierre Soulages” has resulted in me growing a full, upturned handlebar moustache. Moving forward, let’s just refer to this watch as the Pierre Soulages Hampton (PSH), alright?
Great. Now, a bit of context. The Baume & Mercier Hampton is a relatively prominent collection in the brand’s portfolio and remains one of the more left-field square watches around. Sure, we’ve got much more expensive models like the JLC Reverso on one hand. And on the other side of the spectrum, we have the Oris’ Rectangular collection and maybe even the DolceVita line from Longines.
With Baume & Mercier’s Hampton, we’re somewhat in the middle of the spectrum, at least in terms of pricing. That might not be the case for the PSH, though. The limited-to-102-units timepiece will retail for approximately $5,850 (RM24,484). It is available only via special order beginning February 9 at Baume & Mercier’s website here.
“You were saying… Context?”
Right, right. So with the PSH, Baume & Mercier have drawn inspiration from abstract artist Pierre Soulages’, ‘Peinture 390 x 130 cm 17 mars 2019′. The art piece itself is part of a series of works by Soulages known as Noir-Lumière. Later known as Outrenoir from 1989 onwards.
Peinture 390 x 130 cm 17 mars 2019 (above)
With this collection, “the surface of each painting is coated with black paint in various states, textured into low relief with tools and brushes. Each Outrenoir painting plays on with the light that reveals its appearance to the viewer, particularly as the person moves.”
While this entire passage can be construed as marketing fluff, I feel it’s anything but. When you think about it, the similarities in philosophy do add up. How many times have you toyed with a watch and found yourself mesmerized by the amount of light play caused by the different texture on the dial?
I know I’ve lost count.
And this is where the Baume & Mercier Hampton “Hommage à Pierre Soulages” really comes into its own, I feel.
“Let’s talk about that dial…”
Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of the PSH is the dial. Baume & Mercier went to pretty extreme lengths to ensure that the dial of the PSH stayed true to the concept of the art piece that inspired it. The manufacturer started off with “brass machined with a laser (that) was found to suitably meet this challenge. Candia stone is used to create a diffuse matte effect. An electroplating process is then applied to coat it with color through electrolysis. One last coat of sheer, semi-matte protective lacquer to a thickness of 10 microns, and the piece is finished: black yet wreathed in light, filled with masterful contrasts.”
The result? A conceptually simple dial design and colour scheme that is anything but simple. I reckon it’s best to appreciate such a textured dial under a macro lens with plenty of light. I particularly like the rose gold elements in the dial branding and at small streaks at the tip of both hands.
“What about the case and movement and everything else?”
The stainless steel case receives a plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) treatment. Subsequently, a black alligator leather strap with a quick-release function completes the package.
As for the movement, it’s the ETA 2892-A2 calibre. The 21-jeweled automatic movement beats at a rate of 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 42 hours. Additionally, the watch has a water resistance rating of 50 m. The movement is visible via the sapphire exhibition caseback and I do appreciate the inclusion of a blacked out winding rotor.
Lastly, we’ve got the case dimensions. The Baume & Mercier Hampton “Hommage à Pierre Soulages” measures 31 mm by 9.8 mm. Lug to lug measurement stands at 48.1 mm.
Once again, the Baume & Mercier Hampton “Hommage à Pierre Soulages” is limited to just 102 pieces worldwide (to reflect Pierre Soulages’ age) and is available only via order on Baume & Mercier’s website. The watch carries an approximate price tag of $5,850 (RM24,484).