Back to Black: Baume & Mercier’s Hampton Polyptyque Edition – Musée Soulages 10th Anniversary watch

This special edition embodies the intersection of art and watchmaking, a tradition deeply rooted in the Swiss brand’s history.

By Debbie Hathway

The Baume & Mercier Hampton Polyptyque Edition – Musée Soulages 10th Anniversary is the result of an artistic collaboration between Pierre Soulages, France’s greatest living artist, the Musée Soulages of Rodez and the Swiss watch brand’s creative team tasked with miniaturising his light-and-shadow work to fit the face of the dial. 

French artist Pierre Soulages

This limited-edition piece is “inspired by our first encounter with the artist in person, in June 2021, when Pierre Soulages and his wife Colette invited us to their villa in Sète. It was at the precise moment when he suggested that we place a delicate touch of gold on each of the watch hands that we understood the extent to which he wanted to help us consider the design of the first watch, as well as those to come,” says David Chaumet, CE of Baume & Mercier.

Inspired by Pierre Soulages’ mastery of black, the watch captures the essence of his iconic painting, the Peinture 324 x 362 cm, 1986, Polyptyque I Edition from the Outrenoirs series. It reflects his techniques and artistic vision, symbolises the union of his vision with that of Baume & Mercier, and celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Rodez-based Musée Soulages. The Peinture is an oil on canvas measuring 324 x 362 cm: a gigantic polyptych comprising four overlapping elements, each measuring 81 x 362 cm, which hangs at the museum.

Rodez-based Musée Soulages

With a streamlined rectangular case and dial comparable to a canvas, the Hampton Collection offers the perfect exhibition space for reproducing this work, transposed in minute detail onto a dial measuring 48.11mm x 31mm and 10mm thick. 

Innovative 3D printing technology achieved the requisite design, with laser-cut brass and Levant stone creating a soft matte appearance. Electrolysis enabled the dial to be plated with colour in a thickness of just 0.2 microns. A coat of semi-matte protective glaze is also applied with a thickness of 10 microns. These materials and processes liberate the volume, sculpt the texture, and showcase the alternating dark-and-light effects.

The black hour and minute hands are tipped with hemispheres in 750/1000 rose gold, which the artist himself chose to imprint the design with his creative force and figurative vision of time.

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