Named after its founder Roland G. Murphy, RGM watches are often modelled on vintage American timepieces, and so it is with the 801 Corps of Engineers. Railroad pocket watches used by the US Army Corps of Engineers during the first World War are the inspiration for the 801 Corps of Engineers, giving it an aesthetic that is attractively functional, and instantly recognisable as the standard look for early 20th century military timepieces. Like the timepieces that inspired it, the 801 Corps of Engineers is fitted with a fired enamel dial, with blued steel cathedral hands. Instead of radium, the dial and hands have ivory Super-Luminova that approximates the look of aged lume.
The case is brushed steel, with a 42 mm diameter and slightly domed sapphire crystal in front. A sapphire back allows a look at the RGM calibre 801, a hand-wound movement designed to resemble the American-made Edward Howard pocket watch calibre from the 1910s.
RGM is resolute that the calibre 801 is made in-house, and American made. But the architecture of the calibre 801 is strikingly similar to the Unitas 6498.
The patents on the Unitas have long expired, so anyone can use the construction and produce it themselves. As watchmakers like Lang & Heyne, Keaton Myrick and Pascal Coyon have proven, the Unitas is a robust and versatile design that is easy to manufacture and modify with vastly different bridge shapes. The 801 Corps of Engineers costs US$9700 on a calfskin strap and US$10,450 with a steel bracelet.
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