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The Baume and Mercier Riviera appeared in 1973, a year after Gèrald Genta had designed the Royal Oak and three years before the Nautilus hit the market. Among its pros were, and still is, a highly price-to-value proposition and quite a distinctive style, sketched by a watch designer not as famous as its legendary counterpart but no less respected whatsoever: Jean-Claude Gueit.
The Riviera’s original main traits were the signature dodecagonal case and a flat large-H-shaped steel bracelet, giving the watch that luxury sports watch appeal, which changed the industry forever and opened a new trend in watchmaking where steel became more popular than ever before.
Like its illustrious siblings, it looked like a disruptive timepiece, which seems bizarre for a product category so eagerly wanted today; we can’t deny that the Riviera has stood the test of time while being redesigned repeatedly to meet the ever-changing customers’ needs.
Since 1973 the Baume and Mercier Riviera has gone through five generations (the current one included), with the last being perhaps the most ambitious ever. The fifth-gen model debuted in 2021 after the brand discontinued the collection without any replacement in mind. The new collection has introduced the first-ever Riviera Baumatic, too.
1973: the first-generation Riviera hits the market
Sporting a squared twelve-sided bezel, the original Riviera was miles away from today’s collection and preserved a rather classic and small-size silhouette in its product category. The Baume and Mercier Riviera was the less disruptive model to surf the wave of innovation among its peers, thus granting quite a quick appreciation from the watch community.
You’ll also spot no Riviera naming anywhere on the dial. The collection soon expanded to include, since 1975, mechanical and quartz options and several size options (small, medium, large), including two-tone ones.
1981: the Riviera’s second generation
Never change a winning team. The Baume and Mercier Riviera takes a plunge and debuts as a diving watch, featuring a black dial and a unidirectional graduated black bezel with round luminous dots on the dial. Here is the kind of watch you’ll wear on any summer day, thanks to its 100-meter water resistance, yet a “recreational diver” and not a professional diving watch.
The model successfully combines elegance and sportiness and proves the Riviera is a multi-faceted timepiece, as seen in the following iterations up to the present day. Such a concept was extended in 2023 with the launch of a professional diving watch whose hands mimic what you can see here. The wording “Riviera” appears for the very first time.
1985: Please welcome the third generation
Four years later, the time has come for a new generation to hit the market and the first-ever to welcome a consistent redesign: the bezel showcases less squared sides and rounded edges on the bezel along with a new three-link bracelet to replace the “H”-shaped style, forever.
The bracelet keeps being integrated into the case but now looks more mainstream than the original one and won’t change any longer.
From a technical standpoint, the case houses a screw-down crown, a welcome addition on any watch waterproof to at least 100 meters you’d like to use virtually anytime, anywhere, with peace of mind.
This generation includes a complete or annual calendar and a quartz chronograph. The third-generation Riviera was, so far, the most prolific and offered a rare combination of technical features and a more contemporary yet classic design.
2004: the Riviera enters its fourth generation
In 2004, a new Riviera surfaced in two main sub-collections: the former was (vaguely) classic, the latter undoubtedly sporty. The signature dodecagonal brushed bezel widens, and the Sport debuts four screws on top for the first time. Here is a design we’ll see across the whole fifth-generation model.
The classic option offers a smooth, graduated bezel, yet, it is sportier than its namesake suggested back then. Proof positive, both models come on a rubber strap, too.
A triple-folding buckle is paired with either a rubber or a fabric strap. The Riviera Magnum, also known as the Riviera XL (pictured above), displays a large bezel whose four screws stand out against the brushed base. Please note that the hour hand carries a phi-shaped end tip.
2021: the Baume and Mercier Riviera is back
2021 marks the return of the Baume and Mercier Riviera; the brand had stopped the previous collection without any replacement in mind, thus not covering such a market segment any longer as other competing mainstream and independent brands had done so far.
The luxury sports watch in steel is a product you need in your offering, and Baume and Mercier took time to engineer what we can regard as the most refined and performing Riviera in ages.
The new Baume & Mercier Riviera
Thanks to a clever price point and an attractive design, the Riviera quickly found its space amidst the most wanted luxury sports watches back then, and the 2021 Riviera keeps fostering this business model.
The 2021 edition confirms the dodecagonal bezel with Allen screws either on the bezel and the case-back and comes in multiple options; you can buy it on an integrated rubber strap and folding clasp or with an integrated steel bracelet.
A new blue dial
Let’s focus on the options for him, and those adopting a blue dial; they showcase a see-through case-back and an integrated bracelet with a three-link design, with the outer ones that taper towards the mid one. You can buy the new Riviera with a rubber strap paired with a triple folding clasp as an option.
The designers cleaned the template by removing all the unwanted design cues from the past while working hard to make the new one as sleek and uncluttered as possible. Today’s sports watch is synonymous with elegance and a “no-frills” design, and the 2021 Riviera is no exception.
Two self-winding options
The timepiece comes, at launch, in two options: one adopts a Sellita calibre, which is externally sourced and is the base offering, showcasing a blue dial with a “Chevron-like” pattern; the second one adopts a more refined Baumatic automatic movement with five days of power reserve when fully wound, and a smoked blue dial.
Offering a large 42 mm case, measuring just 10,66 mm in thickness, both models are not for everyone on paper, yet they fit nicely on any medium to large wrist. Each model ensures a 100-meter water resistance making the new Riviera an all-rounder.
Here are my thoughts on the 2021 Riviera: I like the new one, and I also think the 42 mm size works since it is, in contrast, quite a slim watch; kudos to the brand for offering a water resistance of up to 100 meters, which is an essential requirement on any modern luxury sports watch. I would instead focus on which option to choose.
The Sellita-powered Riviera‘s dial looks cleaner than the Baumatic‘s; in contrast, the blue smoked sapphire disc on the Baumatic‘s dial makes the whole package less legible.
We would not say we like the rubber strap’s design; while we appreciate the quick-change mechanism, bear in mind that you’re forced to cut parts of the strap itself to adjust it. If you were purchasing a Riviera Baumatic, you could access an additional year of warranty by registering on Baume & Mercier‘s official website.
The Baume and Mercier Riviera Chronograph
With the three-hander Rivierabeing the major release, theRiviera Chronograph was a predictable addition as we look forward to further product developments.
A classic three-register chronograph
The newRiviera Chronograph comes as a single option with different esthetic traits, along with the steel bracelet replacing the rubber strap and vice versa.
The Riviera Chronograph preserves the familiar seventies-inspired base model design while adopting clean V-shaped counter displacement.
A 43 mm large case
At14 mm in thickness, it is not a thin watch by any means. Again, the wave pattern is the loveliest trait and a style definer on the blue rather than the anthracite model, which comes on a steel bracelet as standard.
However, the original Rivierawent with the signature integrated rubber strap, which you can swap anytime to the bracelet via the quick release and exchange system available.
The Chrono houses the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750 calibre, beating at4 Hzand offering a48-hour power reservewhen fully wound, hence more than enough if you’re asking for sturdiness and long-term reliability and low service costs accordingly. It’s a long-established workhorse across the Swiss industry, powering a kind of niche product when compared to any three-hander.
Baume & Mercierintroduced three variants of theRiviera Chronograph; two come on a rubber strap, and the flagship adopts anADLC-treated case; you won’t find it in this product review.
By preserving a 100-meter water resistance, product engineers packed the timepiece with everyday-and-every-season usability.
In 2022, the Baume & MercierRiviera remains the brand’s “centrepiece” and welcomes new variants and a new complication (still under embargo). The Classima, the classic model par excellence brand, extends to vibrant colour options. Last but not least, let’s welcome a new mesh bracelet to the Hampton collection.
The Riviera Steel and Titanium
The new Riviera in steel with a titanium bezel and golden tones is among the most attractive range extensions. Available in either a 42 mm size on a rubber strap or a smaller 36 mm on steel, the new Riviera steel and titanium pays homage to popular sports watches from the late 1980s and, thanks to an under 3000 euros price point (it houses the Sellita automatic calibre), let’s expect to be a winner once it hits the stores.
The strong contrast between the brushed case and the gold sandblasted titanium bezel makes the watch even sportier.
I think the 36 mm option will be popular thanks to a nice size to weight ratio and closer to the original model in look and feel, although a size between 36 and 42 mm would be even more successful.
The Riviera Baumatic Moon Phase
For those searching for a more sophisticated, complicated Riviera Baumatic – and don’t see the chronograph as an option – Baume & Mercier has introduced two models with a Moon Phase complication in 2022, adding a romantic touch to the whole offering. The moon phase display adds refinement to the contemporary, squared case shape, placing this Riviera Baumatic upmarket in engineering and attractiveness.
You can opt for the blue option with a sunray dial pictured here or a subtler model with a sand-coloured dial and a matching rubber strap, and the same strap interchangeability options to customize the watch to your liking, including a “camo” strap.
The Baume & Mercier Riviera Baumatic Moon Phase model has a multi-layered dial covering a scaled-up Baumatic movement equipped with the moon phase complication. The only Roman numeral sits at twelve o’clock, with baton-shaped applied indexes placed at three and nine exclusively.
The devil is in the detail, exemplified by the outer ring to the inner part stepped design, ending with a thin opaque blue day-of-the-month scale housing the moon phase display.
As seen on the Clifton, two superimposed smoked sapphire discs separate the northern and southern hemispheres. The Allen screws applied on the dodecagonal bezel are blackened out with an ADLC (Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon) treatment.
The Riviera Baumatic Moon Phase measures 43 mm across (crown not included), and the thickness is over 12 mm and stops at 12,34 mm.
In numbers, a Riviera Baumatic Moon Phase is 1mm wider and about 2mm taller than an ordinary Riviera Baumatic. It is, therefore, geared towards larger wrists than the entry-model Riviera Baumatic.
The Riviera Diamonds
We gave this tiny Riviera the Riviera Diamonds moniker since it is currently listed exclusively as product reference M0A10677.
Geared towards her and, again, equipped with a self-winding Sellita calibre, the watch comes at 33 mm across (and 9,6 mm thickness) and offers a blue lacquered dial with a 63 brilliant-cut diamonds application with the signature skeletonized hands and an integrated three-link bracelet.
This option of Riviera is so pure and well balanced that I’d love to see the template on a larger model for him. Just think how a two hands model would be, hopefully, sized at 40 mm and sporting the same thin bezel. I hope Baume & Mercier‘s designers are going to read this post.
2023: The Baume and Mercier Riviera turns fifty
The Riviera Azur 300 meters
It is the most unexpected of the new 2023 models and has undergone the most consistent technical development. Here is a professional diving watch capable of withstanding pressure up to 300 metres.
It, therefore, gains a screw-down crown and a specific, sportier style.
The Riviera becomes a professional diving watch.
The dodecagonal bezel rotates unidirectionally. The Riviera Azur features a graduated scale on the central ring and a gripping insert on the outer surface to help grab it while wearing the gloves underwater.
Depending on the model, a black or blue lacquer treatment highlights the first fifteen-minute scale on the aluminium inlay.
The crown’s protective shoulders
The crown comes equipped with protective shoulders, a first for any. You can opt for a blue or a grey-black option, both offering a bracelet or a strap; they house the Baumatic self-winding movement visible through the smoked glass on the dial.
The hour and minute hands showcase a new, diving-oriented design, and the hour markers are filled with plenty of luminescent material.
Thinner than expected, thanks to the Baumatic calibre
Regarding the size: the case measures 42 mm across and just 11,97 mm in thickness, a good value confirming the Azure is as authentic as a sports watch for diving as it is classy, in keeping with the collection’s pedigree.
Interestingly, the screws have been replaced by luminous points filled with grey Superluminova on a white lacquered base. On the blue variant, the luminescent material always glows in blue but comes in beige on both the bezel and the hands.
The Riviera 39 mm
The 39mm model is the “game changer” of the collection. The 39-millimetre size, paired with a 10,21 mm thickness, makes the new 39 one of the most attractive options, if not the most ever, as it summarizes sport and elegance as no other model can.
The bezel is thin, too: it widens the dial while adding refinement; the outcome is a better visual balance than the original 42 mm models without doubling down on mechanical specs. The Riviera 39 is also available with a rubber or a leather strap.
Also in Titanium and PVD bronze
The classic all-steel option with the bracelet is also associated on this occasion with a blue reference (not available in these photos) and a choice in steel with a sandblasted titanium bezel (and rose gold PVD ring in the middle), which completes the range of models from 36 mm in the same material and colour combination.
The smoky wave dial with partially see-through glass confirms it’s a Baumatic-powered timepiece.
The Riviera GMT
The GMT model was revealed a few days ahead of Watches and Wonders 2023. All in all, it is a simple yet handy complication for frequent travellers. The red hand completes a full rotation in 24 hours and allows you to mark a second-time zone. Alongside the ubiquitous blue option, the brand offers a second one with a silver dial.
Both measure 42mm in diameter and 10,96mm in thickness and house a Sellita movement, which helps make the timepiece more attractive from a price perspective.
New colors for the Riviera 33 and 36 mm
The collection is available already; here are some new range extenders in colour-to-dial combinations. New colour options add to the 33 mm large and 9.6 mm thick models. The 33 model in purple or blue mounts a quartz movement and is mainly for her, despite being a unisex model on specific markets.
The calibre running the watch is a Ronda 714 Li, one of the Swiss industry’s most widely used quartz movements; what a pity that case is waterproof up to 50 meters.
The Riviera 33mm reference 10730
This new Riviera Automatic shares the same case and bracelet sizes as the model described above but adopts a self-winding movement, a Sellita SW200 customized to Baume & Mercier specifications and visible through the case back.
The dial and bezel are distinctive: the former has a sun-brushed finish with a wavy pattern, while the bezel houses Top Wesselton diamonds in replacement of the hexagonal screws.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®, Baume & Mercier)
Editorial team @Horbiter®