For many, the Baume & Mercier Riviera likely doesn’t crack the top five watches that come to mind when listing the most well-known integrated sports watches. To be fair, it’s a field crowded by the likes of superstar pieces, many of which have come to define not just the category, but fine watches as a whole: the Nautilus, the Laureato, the Overseas, and more. Yet, the Riviera debuted in 1973, just a year after Genta’s Royal Oak burst on the scene, making it a relevant part of any discussion about integrated sports pieces, a class that’s experienced extreme interest in recent years. Rising to the occasion, Baume & Mercier has given the Riviera a fully modern update. Celebrating the watch’s 50th anniversary, this all-new Riviera Azur 300M — in our opinion — one of the best dive watch releases among the Watches and Wonders 2023 novelties.
The most noticeable change to the Riviera comes head-on thanks to the Azur 300M’s uniquely styled bezel. Retaining the collection’s signature 12-sided shape, the diver version replaces the four familiar screws (which some have criticized as being a bit too similar to AP’s 8-screw design) with a traditional diving bezel. Unidirectional, it sports a color lacquered treatment marking the first fifteen minutes that immediately stands out. Noticeable too are the six aluminum rings placed at alternating intervals around the bezel’s edge. Grooved, they ostensibly help with grip but provide an eye-catching contrast that adds to the Azur 300M’s character.
Only available in black or blue for now, something tells us this format lends itself easily to future color, size, and style variants that we’re excited to see. For now, each dial color is a continuation of Baume & Mercier’s fifth generation Riviera update from 2021, featuring a wave decor set upon a semi-transparent sapphire crystal and affixed with Super-LumiNova markers, including Roman numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock. The date window at the 4:30 position may irritate some people, but the ability to view the entire date wheel beneath the crystalline dial far outweighs any quibbles over window placement. Aside from the bezel, the next biggest change on the Riviera Azur 300M is likely the hands. Retaining their semi-skeleton style, the Azur’s hour and minute hands have a trace of Tudor’s “snowflake” DNA while the seconds hand is cleverly color-coordinated to the dial so that the white lumed tip appears to be floating as it circles.
Design aside, one of the most impressive aspects of the Riviera Azur 300M is Baume & Mercier’s ability to get the details right — no small feat when seemingly every new release these days is plagued by one glaring flaw. Here, it all just… works. At 42mm, it’s right in the wheelhouse for a diver rated to 300M which in itself is noteworthy. It’s got plenty of lume, so no issue there, and each watch ships with a three-row bracelet and matching rubber strap that can be swapped without tools. It’s under 12mm thick which is impressive in its own right, and the automatic Baumatic movement makes a compelling case for best-bang-for-your-buck, thanks to five days of power reserve, -4/+6 seconds daily accuracy, 2,500 Gauss anti-magnetism, and an eye-watering eight-year warranty.
The Baume & Mercier Riviera Azur 300M will be available in June 2023. Baume & Mercier was unable to provide pricing information before press time. You can learn more at the brand’s website.
Brand: Baume & Mercier
Model: Riviera Azur 300M
Reference: 10716 (blue), 10717 (black)
Dimensions: 42mm diameter, 12mm thick
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Case Material: Polished and satin-finished stainless steel
Movement: Manufacture self-winding Baumatic (BM13 -1975A)
Power Reserve: 120 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Integrated 3-row polished and satin-finished stainless steel bracelet. Integrated rubber strap. Interchangeable system allows tooless change. Triple-folding stainless steel clasp with security push-piece.
Price & Availability: Available June 2023. Price not yet announced.