April 29, 2020
Baume & Mercier is something of a dark horse brand to most collectors, often punching well above its weight in both design and quality. Just as often, however, some of these impressive offerings fly under the radar. That has unfortunately been the case in the last few years with the brand’s staple Hampton dress watch collection, but as part of its Watches and Wonders 2020 release group, Baume & Mercier has given this classic collection a breath of fresh air with a new streamlined case design in two different sizes, along with a surprising array of available complications. The resulting Baume & Mercier Hampton Automatic, Baume & Mercier Hampton Small Seconds, and Baume & Mercier Hampton Big Date feel far more modern than their forebears for a variety of reasons.
The biggest change for these new Baume & Mercier models is the heavily revised stainless steel case design. Throughout its history, the Hampton series has been defined by its rectangular Art Deco-style designs, with previous interpretations ranging from minimal to baroque. This 2020 refresh sees the watch take on a slimmer, cleaner profile, with highly polished case sides and lugs that slope dramatically away from the dial. The lugs themselves are now sharply beveled at their tips, taking away some of the upright squareness of the overall shape in favor of a softer and more modern silhouette. An added modern touch is the circular display window on the caseback, showcasing the decorated movements within. It’s an approach that now feels firmly rooted in the present, as well as the early 20th century. This new case design is presented in two different sizes, a 43mm by 27.5mm size for the Hampton Automatic, while the more complicated Hampton Small Seconds and Hampton Big Date are sized at 48mm by 31mm.
The dials of the new Hampton models still offer a look heavily influenced by the Art Deco styles of the past, showing inspiration from other iconic rectangular dial designs. At first glance, the design is dominated by the mix of large applied numerals and stick indices, the outer railroad minutes track, and the textured outer dial surface. From here, each model takes the formula in a new direction, with the Hampton Automatic focused on preserving the simple balanced beauty of the dial layout. The Hampton Small Seconds, on the other hand, adds some useful functionality in the form of a 6 o’clock date on top of the classical touch of the small seconds. Lastly, the flagship Hampton Big Date goes for broke with a surprisingly eclectic mix of complications, including a big date at 12 o’clock, a 6 o’clock dual-time subdial, and a day/night indicator. Impressively, however, these additions on top of the basic three-hand structure do little to disturb the visual weight distribution of the dial for a balanced and elegant presentation.
Each of the three new Baume & Mercier Hampton models uses a different automatic movement. For the three hand Hampton Automatic, the brand uses the somewhat uncommon ETA 2671 automatic movement, likely due to its smaller overall diameter that the more ubiquitous 2892 series. In addition to circular graining on the bridges and a custom rotor adorned with Côtes de Genève, this movement offers 38 hours of power reserve. The Hampton Small Seconds does use an ETA 2892 derivative, namely the ETA 2895, with similar decoration throughout and a 42 hour reserve. For the more complicated Hampton Big Date, Baume & Mercier eschews an ETA base in favor of the Soprod TT651 automatic movement. In addition to its rather unique complement of complications, this movement also offers a 42-hour power reserve.
All three new versions of the Baume & Mercier Hampton are paired with a black alligator leather strap for a classic and handsome combination. Interestingly, however, these straps are fitted with tool-free quick release spring bars, allowing for easy strap experimentation for owners.
With the new redesigned Hampton models, Baume & Mercier has created a lineup that feels equal parts classy and modern with a level of finishing that feels suitably impressive. All three models are currently available for purchase through authorized dealers, with an MSRP of $2,450 for the Hampton Automatic, $2,600 for the Hampton Small Seconds, and $4,050 for the Hampton Big Date. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.