For several years, the articulated bracelet sports watch genre has become one of the hottest consumer trends of watchmaking, and 2021 has seen the trend continue to expand into more affordable segments of the market. Despite the fact that its ongoing revival is the most recent example of this growing segment, the Baume & Mercier Riviera is a line with a deep heritage at the brand, dating back originally to 1973. The original Riviera, launched just one year after the genre-defining Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, was a pioneer at the founding of this style, and the brand’s 2021 revival looks to capture some of that early ‘70s spirit in a wide array of dial and movement alternatives. With an on-trend sporting look, diverse customization options, and a solidly competitive price point, the new Baume & Mercier Riviera series stands as a brave new challenger in this famous corner of the watch industry.
The 42mm stainless steel case of the Baume & Mercier Riviera line takes a slightly softer, more rounded approach to classic integrated sports watch cues, with a seamless transition into the downturned integrated lugs and curving integrated center links. Like the 1973 original, the new Riviera series sports a 12-sided bezel with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces, accented here by four hex screws. The crown carries over this angular motif with an eight sided shape, although this stylized form may potentially affect grip. For customers of the in-house Baumatic movement fitted models, the Riviera can also be had with a black DLC finish for an aggressive modern look. In keeping with the sporting theme, the Riviera offers a respectable 100 meters of water resistance.
The basic dial formula of the Baume & Mercier Riviera is elementally simple, but the brand iterates on it in a number of directions. The dauphine hands and applied indices are clear enough to be stylistically versatile, and the brand gives this arrangement a bit of personality with the use of clean Roman numerals at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock. From here, the standard variants offer a sunburst dial surface in silver, blue, or black, with a raised chevron pattern that gives a stylized aquatic feel to the design in initial images. For the flagship models fitted with the brand’s in-house Baumatic movement, Baume & Mercier instead offers the Riviera with a transparent sapphire dial in deep blue or smoky gray. This ‘70s inspired clear arrangement offers a visually simplified alternative to the more modern skeleton dial, enabling the bridges, date wheel, and gear train within to shine through while maintaining the look of a solid dial. These sapphire dials are overlaid with the same repeating chevron pattern as the sunburst models for a more subtle effect that still keeps the line’s stylistic DNA intact.
Baume & Mercier offers these Riviera models with the option of either a Sellita SW200 automatic movement or the brand’s in-house Baumatic BM13-1975A automatic movement. The SW200 has been an industry standby for years, and its 38 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate is beginning to show its age. The Baumatic BM13-1975A is unquestionably the more luxurious alternative, with more extensive decoration including perlage on the bridges and Côtes de Genéve across the skeletonized rotor. In terms of performance, the BM13-1975A boasts a far more robust 120 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate, as well as a claimed accuracy of -4/+6 seconds per day.
Like with all integrated bracelet designs, bracelet and strap options are critical to the overall effect of the Baume & Mercier Riviera line. The integrated bracelet used here is simpler and more familiar than many comparable designs, with a tapering three link oyster style layout that feels dynamic without overcomplicating the overall profile. Baume & Mercier also offers the Riviera with a flowing and sporty rubber strap in either blue or black.
By packing a wide range of options into a clean and attractive core design, the Baume & Mercier Riviera series hits the ground running as a fleshed-out challenger in its field. The Baume & Mercier Riviera line is available now through authorized dealers, with pricing for SW200-equipped models starting at $2,500, and MSRP for models with in-house Baumatic movements ranging between $3,550 and $3,900.