A pioneering American independent watchmaker established in 1992, RGM Watch Co. long ago developed an in-house expertise in traditional guilloche, resulting in a Breguet-inspired aesthetic that defined the brand in its early years.
But RGM – named after founder Roland G. Murphy – has since diversified its offerings to include custom and bespoke watches. The latest example of a custom commission is Model 25 “Kauai”, a wristwatch with a dial bearing the map of the eponymous Hawaiian island.
RGM is especially good at dial making, and the Kauai is a good example of what the brand can do. While the Hawaiian island motif is personal to the client who ordered the watch, the quality of the execution is evidently high.
The wave guilloche on the dial is engraved the old-fashioned way, with a hand-operated straight-line engine, while both plaques on the dial are solid gold that were cut by hand on a jig borer. And almost all of the dial is produced in house, save for the laser engraving of the map and the blue galvanic coating.
The value of the watch is almost entirely in the one-off, hand-made dial – and it offers strong value in itself. The Kauai cost US$13,900, and similar custom watches are priced about the same – alternatives include enamel or marquetry dials – making them a good value proposition, especially since comparable watches from establishment Swiss brands would cost substantially more.
Made in Pennsylvania
Located in Mount Joy, a town in Pennsylvania not far from the former Hamilton factory in Lancaster, the RGM workshop is home to a significant number of guilloche machines – rose engines for curved lines and straight-line engines for straight lines – giving the brand an ability to create a diversity of guilloche in house, typically on dials but also on movement bridges.
Designed in collaboration with the client, the dial depicts a map of Kauai, with a brilliant-cut diamond to mark a location important to the owner. Laser engraved with a high degree of detail, the island is surrounded by a deep blue sea that is entirely hand-made guilloche.
The Kauai is based on the Model 25, a time-only watch with centre seconds that was conceived as a canvas for a variety of dial decoration, including guilloche, cloisonné enamel, and wood marquetry. Featuring a Breguet-inspired style with a fluted band, the steel case is 40 mm in diameter. And it is made in the United States; some of the brand’s more affordable watches rely on Swiss-made cases.
Inside is a Swiss-made automatic movement with a 22k gold rotor made by RGM. Although RGM does not reveal the specific calibre inside, it is clearly the upscale variant of the ETA 2892 made for Omega.
Key facts and price
RGM Model 25 “Kauai”
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.4 mm
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: Swiss-made automatic (based on ETA 2892/Omega 1120)
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 44 hours
Strap: Leather with titanium pin buckle
Availability: Unique piece commissioned by a client; custom dials available upon commission
Price: Starting from US$13,900 for a comparable custom order
For more, visit rgmwatches.com.
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