When you consider great American watch companies, brands like Hamilton and Waltham come to mind. Neither of those are American any longer, with Hamilton ending US creation in 1969 subsequent to being obtained by the Buren Watch Company in Büren a der Aare, Switzerland. Hamilton at last turned out to be essential for the Swatch Group and stays a well known brand today. Waltham is somewhat fragmented, yet now mainly Waltham International SA, manufacturing extravagance Swiss Made watches with the company’s lion’s share proprietor incidentally being an American, Antonio DiBenedetto. Many years ago, the two companies manufactured cases and developments, yet tragically there could be not, at this point American companies that aren’t importing developments and parts. All things considered, 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 lone American brand that actually manufactures cases, dials and developments in-house. You’ve presumably known about “American” brands like Shinola or MVMT (and a large modest 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 high-end watches could even compete with some comparable opponent from Switzerland, Germany, Japan and that’s just the beginning. The most recent piece from RGM is the PS-801-CE Classic Enamel, featuring a brilliant enamel dial and decorated, in-house RGM Caliber 801. It breaks the five-figure imprint and I wouldn’t consider it an accessible piece, yet for extravagance watch fans, it’s an intriguing 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, however his watchmaking days began in the mid 1980s. In high school, he worked in the bureau making part of a clock company and his advantage in timepieces grew. He proceeded to learn at the Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, PA and headed out to Switzerland in 1986 to concentrate with The Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP).
He later worked in item advancement for the Hamilton Watch Co. until his enthusiasm in the end pushed him to make his own watch image. Roland has many years of experience restoring watches and his affection for both Swiss and American watch history motivates his designs. He combines present day technology with old-world strategies, using collectible, hand-worked apparatus to safeguard conventional craftsmanship, for example, engine-turned (guilloché) dials. RGM is likewise one of the uncommon extravagance manufacturers to offer tweaked watches, from modifying a dial on a creation piece to bespoke watches that are designed 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) using 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, harking back to the 1990s. However, 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, servicing and in-house creation, RGM is genuinely the last American watch company.
Dial and hands
I as a rule start this period of my audits with the case design, yet the enamel dial is significant enough to warrant a first notice. Enamel dials are nothing new, going back to the late 17th century in France and Switzerland, and enameling, in general, can be found in Ancient Egyptian relics. Notwithstanding its antiquated roots, producing enamel watch dials is as yet an exceptionally troublesome undertaking. It includes fusing particles of glass onto a metal dial at high temperatures.
To put the trouble in context, high-end watch brands with many-sided in-house creation and grant winning designs actually depend on companies like Donzé Cadrans in Switzerland for enamel dials. Also, 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 pertinent. Eventually, in any case, the painstaking craft of producing enamel dials is great as their delightful, brilliant completions are everything except difficult to duplicate (although many would argue that top notch lacquered dials come close).
The dial on the RGM PS-801-CE Classic Enamel utilizes the Grand Feu (French for “Great Fire”) procedure, which utilizes three layers of enamel to make profundity. This makes creation much harder as successive layers being re-terminated increment the danger of cracking, melting or burning. What’s more, this is in reality as we know it where even changes in the climate can cause breaks or different flaws in the enamel during creation. Although RGM produces inconceivably complex guilloché and different 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 container rundown of workshops to visit).
RGM’s dial is a classic white with dark Roman numerals within the top external layer, encircled by a peripheral 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 like clockwork. The dial has a vintage pocket watch stylish, yet additionally a trace of an advanced vibe. The blued steel Breguet hands continue the vintage look and Keystone hands are additionally accessible (as seen on their Caliber 20 models, for instance). Unpredictable 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 distance across and 12.3mm in height. Significant, however not excessively so. This is RGM’s Pennsylvania arrangement case and American produced using cleaned 316L hardened steel. One of a kind ridges length the two sides and help me a little to remember how Chronoswiss or Breguet manage their cases, although RGM’s is completely exceptional. They nearly show up as compositional columns supporting the two finishes. The bezel surrounding the sapphire precious stone slants down and afterward outward to the case edge, finishing off an interesting yet unpretentious front.
The lug width is 22mm and the lash is hung on by means of outer screws, which I generally find appealing. The actual lugs slant descending with a nice bend at the base, highlighting the cleaned screw heads. The display caseback has a sapphire precious stone and features the second superstar – RGM’s in-house 801 type. The steel edge surrounding the glass has a comparative incline to the front bezel, giving the case a pleasing evenness. The crown is somewhat larger than the standard, which makes winding the manual development and setting the time a delight, and there’s a Keystone insignia 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 highlight of this watch, the in-house RGM 801 type makes this a truly uncommon piece. As referenced before, this is the lone American company right now producing in-house developments and the 801 is really 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 verifiable consideration went into the design, for example, bridges roused by the Keystone Howard Watch Company’s flagship “Edward Howard” model and the winding snap propelled by the Illinois Watch Company’s “Illini” model. The Illinois “Bunn Special” model likewise propelled the 801’s profound cleaned winding wheels. Roland G. Murphy’s adoration for watch history is truly accentuated with this movement.
Embellishments incorporate engine-applied roundabout damaskeening, perlage, anglage (chamfered edges), Geneva stripes and blued screws, with rhodium or gold plating alternatives. There’s additionally a 7-tooth winding snap and wolf’s tooth winding wheels (well known in the 19th century) are likewise 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 bridge, highlighting its American creation, while RGM is engraved at the top. The 801 type was RGM’s first in-house development, yet ensuing types incorporate the Pennsylvania Tourbillon Caliber MM 2 and tonneau-formed Caliber 20 (with a novel engine barrel framework to reduce grating). None of these developments are breaking new ground, however the significance of high-end types being manufactured in the United States ought not be ignored. RGM states that its developments are 90% American made, meaning 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 different parts in that 10%.
The earthy colored 22mm alligator lash complements the piece well. It’s all around cushioned and comfortable out of the crate, without the requirement for a break-in period. The tempered steel clasp has RGM engraved toward the end and the tie just completes a generally tasteful package. Most RGM alligator straps are made by Stylecraft in Florida, while many come from Jean Rousseau in Paris also. Straps from Camille Fournet of Paris and Hirsch of Austria are likewise utilized for some RGM models. Extraordinary colors and sizes are accessible on solicitation. I clearly 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 an all around completed, high-end piece by any norm. On the off chance 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 a major ordeal, bringing ace watchmaking back to America and keeping the universe of horology more enhanced. While Switzerland, Germany and Japan regularly get the most consideration, watches like the Classic Enamel demonstrate that gifted, propelled craftsmans can in any case dispatch “complete” watch brands in impossible places.
The splendid Grand Feu enamel dial shows that RGM has the resources to have forte things produced by autonomous elements, while developments like the 801 and Caliber 20 reflect design ability and expert craftsmanship on similar level as Swiss counterparts. Design considerations for the bridges and wheels, reminiscent of developments from another time, show a scrupulousness well past extravagant perlage or Geneva stripes. Furthermore, 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 hardened steel (and USD 24,700 in 18k rose gold). These are hand-fabricated, 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 irrational. 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 outstanding elective it is. More data can be found at the RGM site .