2023 is a convenient year for Baume & Mercier to be pushing the Riviera because it happens to be the 50th anniversary of when Baume & Mercier originally came out with the Riviera collection. In 1973, it was pretty common for men’s watches with angular bezels to be on the market, but now we look back on the era with some reverence since today, such models are particularly well-received in the market. Even though watch lovers seem to be intensely hungry for daily-wear watches with angular case designs, the market is quickly getting very crowded. To stay competitive, Baume & Mercier is adding a 39mm-wide size version of its fifth- generation Riviera, which itself debuted in 2021 with 42mm-wide cases.

The 39mm-wide sizes of the Riviera feature the same high-performance Baumatic mechanical movement and style as the larger versions, with only modest cosmetic differences. The smaller size gives more people the ability to wear this timepiece platform, which Baume & Mercier further hopes will appeal to women as well as men.

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Today, Baume & Mercier is a brand that is more or less focused on retail network distribution. That is what helped the company surge to popularity in the 1990s, and it seems positioned to be sold in third-party authorized dealer store locations. Much of that is inferred by Baume & Mercier’s timid marketing and particular price point. There seems to be little push to get watch enthusiasts to the brand’s website and the upmarket pricing is suggestive of being at that level to incorporate a sales margin for retailers. The idea is that rather than try too hard to market Baume & Mercier as a brand to the general public, the company will offer a trendy and high-quality product with a generous commission opportunity to retailers. This means that while few customers come into the store specifically asking for a Baume & Mercier Riviera, the salespeople are incentivized to translate consumer interest into purchasing one of these watches. It is a time-honored and important way to get a lot of watches onto happy wrists.

The last few Baume & Mercier watches I’ve seen have been really nicely made, and the Baumeatic movement is highly competent. I sang its praises back when the company debuted this new in-house caliber and to remind you of its benefits, I will start by discussing its five days of power reserve and relatively high level of magnetic resistance. The goal of the automatic movement was to offer long power reserve and lot of environmental resistance. Since its release, Baume & Mercier has included the Baumeatic movements in many of its top-selling models. The 4Hz movement features the time and date and is visible through a semi-skeletonized dial, as well as through the sapphire crystal caseback on the rear of the watch.

In this smaller form, the Riviera case is 39mm-wide and 10.3mm-thick. Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the case is water-resistant to 100 meters. Note that Baume & Mercier uses a quick-release system that allows compatible proprietary straps and bracelets to be easily swapped out — though most versions of the Riviera 39mm appear to only come with one strap option.

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Baume & Mercier hasn’t quite gotten the fifth-generation Riviera dial to have the bold and sporty pop of the fourth-generation model that came out in the early 2000s. The dials are legible enough, though, and it is a matter of taste if you like the view of the entire movement top and date wheel displayed opaquely through the top smoked sapphire crystal section of the watch face. For early 2023, Baume & Mercier is offering three different styles of the Riviera 39mm, which includes two models in steel and one in titanium (though much of the bezel is in steel). Unfortunately, only one model comes on a bracelet (the black dial steel version). I think it would be great if Baume & Mercier would consider a full titanium bracelet for the latest-generation Riviera.

It is safe to say that stores will not have to wait too long until there are additional versions of the Riviera 39mm-wide watch available. That probably includes more strap and bracelet combinations, as well as new dial colors and styles. Baume & Mercier will probably want to have a few solid (non-transparent) dial options on the market, as well as to (hopefully) experiment with new hour markers and hands. For now, much of the appeal will continue to be the 10-sided geometric Riviera case design and the compelling movement. People going to multi-brand watch stores seeking a “nice Swiss Made watch with an integrated bracelet that can be worn on a daily basis” will probably hear plenty about the Riviera 42mm and 39mm. Price for the Baume & Mercier Riviera 39mm M0A10714 in steel on the strap with the blue dial is 3,600 Swiss Francs, while the reference M0A10715 in steel with the matching bracelet and black dial is 3,600 Swiss Francs, and the reference M0A10720 in titanium on the strap is 3,950 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Baume & Mercier website.

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