Definitely inspired by the legendary Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore, the new Baume & Mercier Riviera Magnum XXL Automatic (ref. 8835 aka MOA08835) wristwatch is a relatively affordable piece of gadgetry for those not willing to spend a fortune on the real thing (or, as I think I need to add after meditating a minute or two on the subject some time after this brief review was already published, it is not really fair to use such a degrading combination of words as “a real thing” implying that this one is just a shameless ripoff: I actually think of it as more of an homage to the famous ROO, which is one of the best forms of flattery if you want my opinion.)
The sporty watch, which was originally presented this spring during the Baselworld 2009 show, comes powered by the pretty much standard ETA 2892-A2 Swiss made automatic movement, which is known for its high quality, long life expectancy and accuracy.
In this price range (the watch retails at about €2500), it is possibly the best choice of a mechanism: when your warranty runs out and the movement finally breaks down, it will not be prohibitively expensive to repair it. Regular servicing will, too, be quite affordable, although your local service company will still charge you a little premium just for the heck of it.
As you can see on the photo above, the new Baume & Mercier Riviera Magnum XXL Automatic is packed in a massive stainless steel case with an even more massive bezel, which is secured to it with four black screws. Both, as I have already mentioned, seem to have been inspired by one of AP ROO massive chronographs.
Sized at 45 mm in diameter, the watch is quite large and is also really heavy on a hand, but, thanks for relatively short lugs, may fit even thinner wrists.
Of course, its profile could have been curved just a little to make the case fit better and, well, a bit less prominent: being almost 15 millimeters thick, the gadget may feel not particularly comfortable if you try to wear it with a tight-cuffed shirt or a classic motorcycle jacket.
Its matte black dial features huge, but somehow crude-looking, Roman numerals that seem to match the brutal appearance of the dodecagonal bezel with its equally crude, machine-brushed texture. Painted with a greenish luminescent substance, the numerals look a bit boring, but will possibly do the job.
I mean, thanks to the chosen color, the lume looks contrast not enough only in darkness when it glows brightly, but even in normal lighting conditions when it stands out against the matte black surface of the dial.
The hour and minute hands also received their share of SuperLuminova, but that didn’t make them look any prettier. I would even say that both hands are on the uglier side of it, especially when compared to the 2006 year’s Riviera Chronograph model in red gold and rubber (ref. M0A08712.) with their beautiful dauphine hands, elegantly shaped Roman numerals and a dial nicely decorated with a honeycomb pattern.
Perhaps, trying to differentiate itself from their object of inspiration, B&M’s designers have gone too far.
Of course, this is purely a thing of personal taste, but I don’t see logic behind their shape. I just don’t get the thought process behind them: did somebody simply said something like ‘We made a watch that looks too much like something else, so we need something that would make it look stupid and ugly so we won’t be sued’, or what?
The real shame here is that the Riviera Magnum XXL could indeed have looked great if not only those hands. What a waste.
Photos: Baume & Mercier
Baume & Mercier Riviera Magnum XXL (ref. 8835) Automatic watch specification
Price range: €2500 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber ETA 2892-A2, automatic, 28800 vph, Swiss Made
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Case size: 45.00 mm
Case height: 13.10 mm
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Rubber strap
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective