When you consider extraordinary American watch companies, brands like Hamilton and Waltham come to mind. Neither of those are American any longer, with Hamilton finishing US creation in 1969 in the wake of being obtained by the Buren Watch Company in Büren a der Aare, Switzerland. Hamilton at last turned out to be important for the Swatch Group and stays a mainstream brand today. Waltham is somewhat divided, yet now primarily Waltham International SA, producing extravagance Swiss Made watches with the company’s greater part proprietor incidentally being an American, Antonio DiBenedetto. Many years prior, the two companies fabricated cases and developments, however unfortunately there are not, at this point American companies that aren’t bringing in developments and parts. Indeed, except for one, which we’ll survey today: RGM Watch Co.
RGM Watch Company, established in 1992 by American watchmaker Roland G. Murphy, is the solitary American brand that actually produces cases, dials and developments in-house. You’ve presumably known about “American” brands like Shinola or MVMT (and an enormous small bunch of extra microbrands), however all depend on outsourced developments. RGM meets the “American Made” standard similarly that Swiss watches meet the “Swiss Made” standard, and its top of the line watches could even compete with some comparable adversary from Switzerland, Germany, Japan and then some. The most recent piece from RGM is the PS-801-CE Classic Enamel, including an eminent enamel dial and decorated, in-house RGM Caliber 801. It penetrates the five-figure imprint and I wouldn’t consider it an accessible piece, yet for extravagance watch aficionados, it’s a captivating expansion from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.
Who is the man behind the company that bears his name? Roland G. Murphy established RGM Watch Company in Pennsylvania in 1992, yet his watchmaking days began in the mid 1980s. In secondary school, he worked in the bureau making part of a clock company and his advantage in timepieces developed. He proceeded to learn at the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, PA and went to Switzerland in 1986 to concentrate with The Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP).
He later worked in item improvement for the Hamilton Watch Co. until his energy in the long run pushed him to make his own watch image. Roland has many years of experience reestablishing watches and his adoration for both Swiss and American watch history motivates his plans. He combines present day innovation with old-world methods, utilizing collectible, hand-worked apparatus to safeguard customary craftsmanship, for example, motor turned (guilloché) dials. RGM is additionally one of the uncommon extravagance makers to offer altered watches, from adjusting a dial on a creation piece to bespoke watches that are planned and produced completely in-house.
Not the entirety of RGM’s watches are altogether American made, with models like the 107-P Pilot (additionally the most established creation watch in their portfolio) utilizing a decorated Swiss ETA 2892-A2 type. This is the company’s most accessibly priced watch and furthermore turns out to be the model that started my advantage in mechanical timepieces, thinking back to the 1990s. Yet, it is watches like the Pennsylvania Tourbillon and Caliber 20 with hand-worked, in-house developments that truly characterize RGM as a company. From watch rebuilding efforts, fixes, adjusting and in-house creation, RGM is genuinely the last American watch company.
Dial and hands
I typically start this period of my reviews with the case plan, however the enamel dial is sufficiently huge to warrant a first notice. Enamel dials are the same old thing, returning to the late 17th century in France and Switzerland, and enameling, by and large, can be found in Ancient Egyptian antiques. Despite its old roots, delivering enamel watch dials is as yet an exceptionally troublesome errand. It includes melding particles of glass onto a metal dial at exceptionally high temperatures.
To put the trouble in context, top of the line watch brands with perplexing in-house creation and grant winning plans actually depend on companies like Donzé Cadrans in Switzerland for enamel dials. Furthermore, that company has expressed that up to 75% of their dials are rejected because of imperfections. The expression “more workmanship than science” has never been more applicable. Eventually, notwithstanding, the painstaking craft of creating enamel dials is great as their wonderful, brilliant completions are everything except difficult to duplicate (albeit many would contend that first rate lacquered dials come close).
The dial on the RGM PS-801-CE Classic Enamel utilizes the Grand Feu (French for “Incredible Fire”) strategy, which utilizes three layers of enamel to make profundity. This makes creation significantly harder as successive layers being re-terminated increment the danger of cracking, softening or consuming. What’s more, this is in reality as we know it where even changes in the weather can cause breaks or other flaws in the enamel during creation. Despite the fact that RGM produces extraordinarily complex guilloché and other dials in-house, as other extravagance brands, it depends on external craftsmans to complete the enamel dials. For this situation, Roland has a resigned companion and master in Switzerland that produces them in a home workshop (and add that to my basin rundown of workshops to visit).
RGM’s dial is a classic white with dark Roman numerals within the top external layer, encircled by a furthest moment track with Arabic numerals like clockwork. The internal, central layer has the hour and moment hands, and RGM WATCH CO printed above with LANCASTER, PENNA. U.S.A. under. The third, base layer at 6 o’clock is the seconds sub-dial with Arabic numerals printed at regular intervals. The dial has a vintage pocket watch esthetic, yet in addition a trace of an advanced vibe. The blued steel Breguet hands continue the vintage look and Keystone hands are likewise accessible (as seen on their Caliber 20 models, for instance). Multifaceted yet downplayed, this time-just dial (and hand combination) is stacked with class, and the brilliance of the enamel should be believed to be completely appreciated.
Case and design
The case on the RGM PS-801-CE Classic Enamel is 42mm in measurement and 12.3mm in stature. Considerable, however not excessively so. This is RGM’s Pennsylvania arrangement case and American produced using cleaned 316L hardened steel. One of a kind edges length the two sides and help me a little to remember how Chronoswiss or Breguet manage their cases, in spite of the fact that RGM’s is completely exceptional. They nearly show up as structural columns supporting the two closures. The bezel encompassing the sapphire gem inclines down and afterward outward to the case edge, polishing off an intriguing yet unobtrusive front.
The drag width is 22mm and the lash is hung on by means of outer screws, which I generally find engaging. The drags themselves incline descending with a nice bend at the base, featuring the cleaned screw heads. The presentation caseback has a sapphire gem and exhibits the second superstar – RGM’s in-house 801 type. The steel edge encompassing the glass has a comparable incline to the front bezel, giving the case a satisfying balance. The crown is somewhat bigger than the standard, which makes winding the manual development and setting the time a delight, and there’s a Keystone badge toward the end. It doesn’t screw down, however the case is water-impervious to 50 meters. It’s protected from sprinkles and downpour, however here are my two cents – take a watch this nice off your wrist before swimming.
Although the enamel dial is a feature of this watch, the in-house RGM 801 type makes this a truly uncommon piece. As referenced before, this is the solitary American company right now creating in-house developments and the 801 is genuinely competitive with Swiss counterparts. It’s physically wound, has 19 gems, beats at 18,800vph (2.5Hz) with a 44-hour power save. A ton of chronicled consideration went into the plan, for example, spans roused by the Keystone Howard Watch Company’s lead “Edward Howard” model and the winding snap propelled by the Illinois Watch Company’s “Illini” model. The Illinois “Bunn Special” model likewise roused the 801’s profound cleaned winding wheels. Roland G. Murphy’s adoration for watch history is truly accentuated with this movement.
Embellishments incorporate motor applied round damaskeening, perlage, anglage (chamfered edges), Geneva stripes and blued screws, with rhodium or gold plating choices. There’s likewise a 7-tooth winding snap and wolf’s tooth winding wheels (famous in the 19th century) are additionally accessible. For more data on development completes, see our article on Finishing in Haute Horlogerie .
LANCASTER PENNA U.S.A. is engraved on a central scaffold, featuring its American creation, while RGM is engraved at the top. The 801 type was RGM’s first in-house development, yet resulting types incorporate the Pennsylvania Tourbillon Caliber MM 2 and tonneau-molded Caliber 20 (with an interesting engine barrel framework to reduce rubbing). None of these developments are breaking new ground, however the significance of top of the line types being produced in the United States ought not be neglected. RGM states that its developments are 90% American made, which means a couple of parts like the balance spring and gems are produced somewhere else. As a little autonomous company, it wouldn’t be achievable for RGM to endeavor to produce its own balance springs or other parts in that 10%.
The earthy colored 22mm gator lash complements the piece well. It’s very much cushioned and comfortable out of the container, without the requirement for a break-in period. The hardened steel clasp has RGM engraved toward the end and the lash basically completes a generally tasteful bundle. Most RGM gator straps are made by Stylecraft in Florida, while many come from Jean Rousseau in Paris too. Straps from Camille Fournet of Paris and Hirsch of Austria are additionally utilized for some RGM models. Unique colors and sizes are accessible on solicitation. I most likely wouldn’t trade out the one on the Classic Enamel for another (and I’m known). I’d be unable to discover something better.
The RGM PS-801-CE Classic Enamel is a very much completed, top of the line piece by any norm. In the event that it were Swiss made, it’d be on a similar field as extravagance brands like IWC or Ulysse Nardin. The way that it’s American made truly changes things. The RGM 801 type truly is serious, taking expert watchmaking back to America and keeping the universe of horology more expanded. While Switzerland, Germany and Japan often stand out enough to be noticed, watches like the Classic Enamel demonstrate that skilled, inspired craftsmans can in any case dispatch “complete” watch brands in far-fetched places.
The splendid Grand Feu enamel dial shows that RGM has the resources to have strength things produced by autonomous elements, while developments like the 801 and Caliber 20 reflect plan ability and expert craftsmanship on similar level as Swiss counterparts. Plan considerations for the scaffolds and wheels, reminiscent of developments from another time, show a scrupulousness well past extravagant perlage or Geneva stripes. Also, with pieces like the Pennsylvania Tourbillon and Caliber 20 models in their portfolio, RGM demonstrates that it is a genuine master of horological engineering.
RGM’s Classic Enamel sells for USD 11,900 in treated steel (and USD 24,700 in 18k rose gold). These are hand-constructed, extravagance watches and the prices certainly mirror that. In any case, for a complex enamel dial and in-house, American made development housed inside restricted creation watches, the prices are a long way from absurd. In case you’re looking for an option in contrast to Swiss or German extravagance brands, RGM is plainly your solitary stop in the United States, yet what an exceptional elective it is. More data can be found at the RGM site .