When it comes to dress watches, it seems that purists seem to favor a smaller (generally round) black dial with a simple two-hander movement. While I appreciate a good dress watch, I am more than willing to deviate from the “black tie” standard, as it is handy to mix things up now and again. For instance, I actually prefer a white dial, and if you swap that case shape out to a compact rectangle, you have what we’re looking at today – the Baume & Mercier Hampton.
And a compact case it is, measuring in at 42.6mm x 29.2mm, with a case thickness of 8.1mm. That said, that thickness measurement might be a bit misleading, due to one of the very unexpected (but pleasant) surprises with the Baume & Mercier Hampton, it’s sapphire crystal. You see, its a thicker crystal, curved from top to bottom. You might be thinking, well, what is so special about that? You can actually see a large part of this curve due to the fact that the case sides scoop down from it. Not only does this give you a view of the crystal, it keeps the sides of the watch from appearing to be too thick.
Frankly, I just liked these design cues because they mix up the design of a rectangular watch. Sure, it would be simple to make a thin rectangular case, slap a flat crystal on it, and call it a day. With the Baume & Mercier Hampton, you do have that look when viewed from straight on, but when viewed at any sort of angle, you see the design work they put into the watch to make it stand out.
Tucked into the case (and viewable through the caseback) is a 4 Hz automatic movement, which of course, drives the three hands and the date display down at 6 o’clock. While I do generally like seeing a date display on a watch (especially one that is likely to see daily wear duty, not worn just on special occasions), here, it feels like it might be a bit of a miss. With the numerals following the straight edges of the case and keeping things well-balanced, the date window just feels slightly off-kilter, both in terms of placement and sizing. These two facets are, of course, constrained by having a date wheel (round) in a case of this shape. It may just be me, but I think the overall design would be better served by deleting the date complication. And, while we’re at it, the “automatic” text: they do this to differentiate it from the quartz model, but it seems to just be a distraction on the dial.
What should not be changed, however, is the handset. For starters, we have a three-hander here, and I like having a second hand on the move to let me know the watch is alive. Next up, lets talk dimensions on the sword-shaped hands. On a rectangular case, it can be tricky to get the lengths right so they do not seem to crowd the short side of the dial or get lost on the long side. On the Baume & Mercier Hampton, they did a nice job of balancing the two, while keeping the hands in proportion to each other. Finally, let’s talk about the bluing.
You might expect on something dressier like this to see brightly polished hands – and I can see the appeal. After having the blued hands in sight, though, I think they work quite well. For starters, it makes a crisp contrast to the white of the dial, which makes for easy readability. The coloration is also a bit shifty. By this, I mean it can appear a bright blue in one light, and then shift to an almost-black color (and it appears darker in most of these photos), which again speaks to a dressier piece.
On the wrist, the 68g Baume & Mercier Hampton was a treat. Take special note of that weight, as that is just about a featherweight when it comes to automatics (or, perhaps, I am just too used to steel dive watches). While the case back is not curved in any way, I found the fit on my wrist to be good. The alligator strap added some additional texture to the watch, and the signed deployant clasp worked well, and I did not have any issues with it digging into my wrist once I had things sized, which I appreciate. That is something I’ve noticed is a bigger problem when you have a deployant on a strap – it can end up adding unnecessary bulk, which then ends up digging into your skin. Here, I did not have that problem, thankfully.
Coming in at an asking price of $2,650, the Baume & Mercier Hampton is a solid little luxury dress watch. I think the one we reviewed with the blue handset is the most flexible, as you could easily swap in a brown strap on this and have a more casual look, giving it more flexibility. Of course, you could also opt for a model that comes on the brown strap (in either an automatic or a quartz – the quartz model dropping the price $1100). While dress watch purists may not agree with me, I really do think that the Baume & Mercier Hampton is a great art deco inspired dress watch ready to take on the office or a night out with a tux. baume-et-mercier.com