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An Interview with Marie Chassot of BAUME

With an illustrious career working for luxury maisons like Baume & Mercier and Roger Dubuis, Marie Chassot is indeed a woman of our time. Balancing her impressive career with her roles as a mother, partner, daughter, friend — and of course her passion for the environment. A pioneer in the luxury  industry, Marie Chassot is currently heading the Richemont Group’s first fully sustainable watch brand - Baume. A  hopeful step in the right direction for the luxury watch sector.
Born out of the realisation that the current environmental issues could no longer be put on the back burner, Baume is fully committed to creating time-pieces that are made entirely out of sustainable, recycled, and up-cycled materials. In collaboration with Waste Free Oceans, Baume’s Iconic Series is a fantastic example of the circular production model, using recycled aluminium and PET plastics taken from the oceans. On the other end of the sustainable spectrum, their Custom Timepiece Series is a collection of fully customisable made-to-order watches, that eliminate the need for stock and the land-fill waste that is so often the after-effect of overproduction. 
According to Marie Chassot “Our intention is not at all to preach, but to use the brand’s voice and reach out to promote awareness in a positive and constructive way" but beyond raising awareness, BAUME proves that sustainability never comes at the cost of luxury, and in fact — is potentially a way for the industry to move forward. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How did you find yourself working with Baume and the Richemont group? 
Jewellery and watches are really where my passion lies, and I’ve spent my whole career in this particular part of the fashion industry. I’ve been in different positions throughout retail, marketing, sales, and product development for a wide range of houses. From entry level luxury  brands like Baume & Mercier, to the high end offerings of Roger Dubuis. Like most women, I’m constantly trying to balance a hectic professional life with my other roles as a mother, partner, daughter, and friend.
The Richemont group has such a rich watchmaking heritage. What made the group decide to launch a brand like Baume in 2018? 
The issues that we are facing with regard to the environment have become so critical that they can no longer be ignored. BAUME was born from the realisation that we needed to make time for what matters. Taking the time for ourselves in this digital age, but also taking the time to raise awareness on the environmental challenges that the planet is facing. We want to contribute to the debate and help find sustainable solutions. 
When we came up with the concept of sustainable timepieces, we thought that if we were creating a new brand, the concept behind it would need to be completely new and offer a completely different approach to minimising impact on the planet — regardless whether that concerned design, production, or manufacturing. A watch is not a necessity, but the way we see it, what we design today shapes the world of tomorrow. We want to face the challenges of our times head-on, and are fully committed to creating considered design in sustainable, recycled, and up-cycled materials.

Tell us about the Iconic Series and the Custom Timepiece Series? 
The ICONIC Series embodies our recycling and upcycling values, and our commitment to the circular economy model. The watch case is recycled aluminium and the bracelet is made of recycled PET. Our ambition is to work closely with our partner Waste Free Oceans, and the fishermen they collaborate with, to collect plastic from the oceans and give these materials a second life by turning them into watch bracelets and other components.
The CUSTOM TIMEPIECE Series provides customers with the opportunity to create their very own timepiece. The watches from this range are fully customisable, and are designed through an online configurator on our website. You can choose everything from the case sizes and components to the movements. There are thousands of different combinations available, so the result is very much a piece that is unique to you. 

All our watches are made to order. We want to eliminate the issues that come with stock, such as waste and the unnecessary use of energy to produce stock that might not be sold. Not to mention the additional energy required to get rid of obsolete stock.


How important is sustainability to BAUME’s production processes? In what ways does BAUME reduce its environmental footprint? 
Sustainability is at the CORE of our business. Our mission is to leave the world in a better state for future generations. It’s the reason we exist, and it is the constant goal we are working to achieve. We need to collectively work together, as individuals, brands, and government agencies,  in order to understand how we produce and consume products, and how all of this needs to change. BAUME is working to create an ecosystem of partners, including NGOs, brands, and artists who create with the planet in mind, and we want to help and contribute to their efforts. Our intention is not at all to preach, but to use the brand’s voice and reach out to promote awareness in a positive and constructive way. We want to accelerate the pace of action and ensure future generations are asking themselves the right questions.
Creating a sustainable luxury product doesn’t mean that beautiful design and quality need to be compromised. Therefore, we are constantly investing in research and innovation on new materials. We made the decision not to work with any animal products, and favoured recycled and up-cycled materials instead.
A lot of time and energy was dedicated to the design of the watches themselves in order to ensure that a limited number of components were being used in each style. This was the first step in making sure that we were reducing environmental impact. As our product is made to order, production only kicks in once an order has been placed, allowing us to avoid the issue of obsolete stock. We strive to use all of the materials we source, and our goal is always to give these materials a second, or even third, life.
How important is individuality to Baume? In what ways can customer’s collaborate with Baume to create custom time pieces? 
By choosing the CUSTOM TIMEPIECE series, customers are able to create a watch that is entirely theirs. There are over 2,000 different permutations available. As I mentioned, there is an opportunity to choose every aspect of the watch, even the movement. 
Customers value individuality and want products that speak to them and their values. At BAUME, we want to offer people the opportunity to celebrate their individuality, especially in a way that positively impacts the global community.
Today, sustainability is more important than ever, with brands becoming more and more concerned about their carbon footprint. What role does the luxury industry play in the effort to minimise our environmental impact as a species?
Sustainability definitely goes beyond any community in our industry, but recently the spotlight has been on the luxury sector. With BAUME, we are hoping to kickstart the conversation on how to move sustainability forward. Particularly in the watchmaking sector, by showing how the circular economy, recycling and up-cycling can work and make a real difference. 
As luxury brands are aspirational, they can play a very important role in leading by example. They can contribute to raising awareness on the impact of how we consume and produce, and inspire people and other industries to be part of change.


As consumers, how can we make a difference in protecting the future of our planet?
You’ve really hit the right note here, as the awareness and responsibility is on everyone at all levels. The ambition to encourage more sustainable ways of consuming and producing will only work with a concerted collected effort, from consumers to brands all the way to the government. 
From the consumer point of view, making certain decisions and incorporating habits into the way they buy will have a huge impact, even though it doesn’t feel that way at an individual scale. Educating children, choosing to use public transportation, and recycling properly are just a few ways that we can bring about change and reduce our impact, one person at a time.


Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies