Photos by Ariel Adams

Given the popularity and ubiquity of integrated bracelet sports watches today, it can be challenging to tell which ones have been around since the 1970s and which have only recently jumped into the sea of choices to ride the wave. The Baume & Mercier Riviera is one of the OGs, debuting in 1973 and named after the French Riviera, the capital of casual chic leisure life. The current Riviera catalog (in its fifth generation) is robust, ranging from petite quartz models and well-proportioned automatic daily drivers to sporty chronographs and complicated perpetual calendars. Regardless of the model, all modern Riviera watches retain the signature 12-sided bezel with four screws and integrated bracelets and straps. Baume & Mercier has now expanded the line with a skeleton, or squelette in French. We went hands-on with the new Baume & Mercier Riviera Skeleton watch to see if it’s a worthy addition to the already-expansive collection.

With a stainless steel case that measures 42mm across and a little over 51mm lug-to-lug, the Riviera Skeleton sits in the upper range of the collection’s size choices. While no doubt large, the case sits comfortably on the wrist thanks in part to its relatively slim profile of 11.1mm. As illustrated by the photos, the watch takes up considerable space on Ariel’s arm but it’s not a watch that would be described as bulky; it wears relatively flat across the wrist. That said, larger wrists would be better suited than smaller ones to support the broad proportions. The case is predominately satin-finished, with polishing around the edges of the bezel that serves to highlight the 12-sided silhouette of the watch. The four screws that keep the bezel in place are sandblasted ADLC-coated and we continue to see darker details like these throughout the piece. For instance, the octagonal crown, decorated with the company’s Phi logo, is embossed and outlined in black. There’s also a black anodized aluminum bezel ring.

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These black details on the exterior of the case coordinate nicely with the open-worked faceted black dial. According to Baume & Mercier, the lines of the skeletonized dial were inspired by the architecture that dots the rocky coast of the French Riviera. Whether or not this is true, what I see are thoughtful cutouts that are not only visually striking but also serve as legible hour markers to facilitate time-telling — something that can often be an issue with skeleton watches. The open-worked black surface benefits from vertical brushing and there are minute/seconds markers on the periphery. At the center of the dial is the pair of skeletonized hands with luminous tips. The Baume & Mercier logo floats above the dial as it’s printed on the underside of the sapphire crystal and the Riviera inscription is placed at 3 o’clock,  which doesn’t seem forced but rather, balances well with the cut-out sliver at 9 o’clock. The visible balance wheel takes prime position at 6 o’clock, adding a touch of action to the face of the watch.

The semi-skeleton movement that’s partially visible through the open-worked dial is the Sellita AMT2500, which the brand states was “exclusively designed for Baume & Mercier.” As you may already know, Sellita movements with the AMT designation are made by Manufacture AMT SA, a special branch of the movement manufacturer responsible for developing bespoke calibers for watch brands. Sellita AMT2500 operates at 28,800 beats per hour and supplies the Riviera Skeleton watch with 38 hours of power reserve. When looking at the movement via the sapphire crystal window on the caseback, aside from the black open-worked oscillating weight, there’s not much to look at in terms of decoration or adornment; it’s simple and straightforward. As I see it,  this skeletonized Riviera watch is the opposite of a mullet — it’s party in the front and business in the back. Living up to its sea-inspired name, the Riviera is water-resistant to 100 meters.

Baume & Mercier opted to fit the Riviera Squlette with a black canvas-pattern rubber strap, which suits the watch well and as the design codes of the model dictate, it is seamlessly integrated into the case. The strap is equipped with a stainless steel triple folding buckle, released by push-pieces on the side and decorated with the Phi logo. The clasp can also be adjusted to fit the strap looser or tighter for an even better fit. Thanks to the user-friendly interchangeable system, the black strap can be switched out for a more colorful one, and Baume & Mercier sells plenty of them.

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The Riviera Skeleton fits and feels like a premium watch; sure, the movement may be a little lacking in terms of power reserve and decoration but considering the relatively accessible $4,500 USD price point, I think the watch offers an impressive package. There’s the (authentic) 1970s-era case and bezel design, the respectable 100m water resistance, the cool skeletonized dial, and the practical strap-switching feature. Swiss-made skeleton watches are typically pricier affairs, especially sportier variants, so Baume & Mercier’s offering is a solid option in the sub-$5,000 category. For more information about the Baume & Mercier Riviera Skeleton ref. 10721, please visit the brand’s website.

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