On the secrets of classic design and the perfect proportions.
ESQUIRE: How did you get involved with the watch industry?
ALEXANDRE PERALDI: By chance. It was at an artistic and technical school in Paris. I was working more with furniture, but I learned a lot about aesthetics. I started there with Cartier and designed my first watch for Yves Saint Laurent. It was the change I needed. When one wants to be a good jazz musician one has to learn classical music first for 10 years. That was my case, I learned the classic Cartier design and then joined Baume to play jazz.
ESQ: You have been with the brand for almost 15 years. What changes have you seen in Baume et Mercier in terms of design?
AP: No major design changes; we are a classic brand, that’s in our DNA. When designing a watch, half the products are close to the history of the brand and the other half is a new proposal. It is important to keep that, as it identifies the brand in all creations. My goal is to create new watches to help future designers, in 20 or 30 years, for inspiration. It is our responsibility to continue this legacy.
ESQ: How do you maintain the classic style?
AP: By not changing the colours or shapes that identify Baume. We only focus on the details. Also the goal is still to keep the price competitive; it’s a comfortable watch. For example, the Hampton collection from two or three years ago was not a success, but it was a good lesson for us to go back to classic lines like the Clifton collection, a union with our history.
ESQ: Baume et Mercier is the second oldest Richemont group. Do you consult historical files to find inspiration?
AP: No, it’s hard. For many years we used old pieces for inspiration, but for the past three or four years we went further. Now when we are inspired by a model we try to show that we are not stuck in the past, but just maintaining our traditions. Now we communicate our story more, which is awesome. We were one of the first brands to design watches specially for women, to create the first pocket watch for women. We still try to be a brand targeting 50 percent for women and 50 percent for men.
ESQ: Baume et Mercier always manages to maintain an established line.
AP: We try to be creative but at the same time, affordable. The design has certain objectives. The first is that it needs to be a creative watch but not extravagant; we have to be classic and subtle, but also create details that make it attractive. The second is the ease of use, as there are many beautiful watches that are very comfortable to wear. For me the best compliment one can give a Baume watch is not the beauty of it, but rather to forget that you were wearing it. The third is comfort, perhaps most importantly. It has to be accessible and a good price. Historically we are a luxury brand with the best quality, the best durability, great design, but with the best price. When we make a tourbillon it is cheap compared to the competition. With these three goals in mind, we work on the design. But our first thought is always the aesthetics.
ESQ: What about the legibility of your watch?
AP: It is a weight which falls within the comfort objective. Readability is very important because a watch is made to tell the time, so if it is impossible to see it loses its main function. The new Clifton model’s dial is simple and clean, there is nothing to distract you.
ESQ: And proportions?
AP: Very important. Almost always use the golden ratio, which was used in the past to build the pyramids, and sculptures and paintings. It is also found throughout nature. I dislike the word perfect, but that’s the closest. This year we launched a small model collection and it was essential to maintain the correct ratio.