Baume & Mercier Miniature Pierre Soulages Painting on a Watch Dial (Again)

Still strikingly monochromatic and abstract.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Musée Soulages, Baume & Mercier (B&M) is launching a second edition inspired by Pierre Soulages (1919-2022). The Hampton Polyptyque Edition “Musée Soulages 10th Anniversary” features a dial modelled on Peinture 324 x 362 cm, 1986, Polyptyque I.

Inspired by the style of the French abstractionist, the dial reproduces the dense impasto of texture and shapes of the artwork. As with the first edition, it has an all-black case and an overall composition devoid of colour, except for the branding and hands.

Initial thoughts

While watchmakers often partner with museums, Baume & Mercier’s tie-up with the Musée Soulages’ that started in 2022 yielded the brand’s most compelling watch to date – which is saying a lot for this anaemic brand. The second edition is essentially identical to the first, but with a different artwork on the dial. Though simple, the latest Soulages watch still manages to capture the essence of his work on a tiny canvas. 

However, as is always the case with limited editions, the number of editions is inversely proportional to desirability and appeal. While the first edition was special – it reputedly sold out swiftly – the second edition is intrinsically less unique. If there are much more on the horizon then the concept will lose much of its interest.

The Hampton “Hommage à Pierre Soulages” edition from 2022

Priced at US$6,900, the new Soulages edition costs US$1,050 more than the first edition, which might be attributed to the 18k pink gold tips on the hands, but is more probably B&M capitalising on the success of the first edition.

In honour of the French abstractionist 

The Hampton Polyptyque Edition is the second collaboration between Baume & Mercier and the Musée Soulages, following the initial edition in 2022, “Hommage à Pierre Soulages” edition that was inspired by a 2019 work.

This edition is modelled on an earlier painting, specifically the central section of Peinture 324 x 362 cm, 1986, Polyptyque I from the Outrenoir, a series of paintings described by the artist as “beyond black”, which is the literal translations of the outre noir. The painting consists of four intersecting panels forming a polyptych. As with many of his works, the work is named after its dimensions and the year of completion.

‘Peinture 324 x 362 cm, 1986, Polyptyque I’ at the Musée Soulages in Rodez, France. Image – Musée Soulages.

As with the first edition B&M relied on 3D printing to recreate the artwork on the dial. The brass dial blank was first laser engraved to emulate the texture of the thickly-laid acrylic paint on the original work. It was then polished to achieve matte finish and electroplated black before being coated with protective clear lacquer for a subtle gloss.

Like the earlier edition, the Polyptyque edition has subtle gold accents on the dial in the form of printing on the underside of the crystal as well as the tips of the hands. Unlike its predecessor, this has hour and minute hands in Bauhaus style with 18k pink gold hemispheres on their tips for legibility.

Besides the dial and hands, the rest of the watch remains identical. The stainless steel case has a sandblasted finished coated with diamond-like carbon (DLC) that results in a matte black appearance. It retains the dimensions of 31 mm by 48.11 mm, though the thickness is now 10 mm, a marginal increase of 0.2 mm as a result of the different dial finish.

The movement inside is the ETA 2892, a workhorse but pedestrian calibre that’s been dressed up with a black-coated rotor to match the case.

Key facts and price

Baume & Mercier Hampton “Polyptyque Edition – Musée Soulages 10th Anniversary”
Ref. 10741

Diameter: 31 by 48.11 mm
Height: 10 mm
Material: DLC-coated steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: ETA 2892
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve:
 42 hours

Strap: Black apple leather strap with quick-release spring bars

Limited edition: 328 pieces
Availability: Available at Baume & Mercier boutiques, retailers and starting February 2024
Price: US$6,900, or 10,000 Singapore dollars

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