RGM Unveils the Model 25 “Birds of America (Glossy Ibis)”

After Audubon’s magnum opus.

RGM Watch Co. recently bestowed an artisanal touch on its time-only Model 25 with the “Birds of America (Glossy Ibis)” with a mother-of-pearl dial featuring a miniature painting that reproduces a drawing from John James Audubon’s famous book of the same name. Notably, the Birds of America is also equipped with an ETA calibre upgraded by RGM to have a power reserve that’s 30% longer.

Initial thoughts

RGM was historically a guilloche specialist – notably the brand does traditional engine turning in house – so the Birds of America is a logical diversification that continues the brand’s speciality. Though the artisan responsible for the miniature painting is unnamed, the dial is impressively rendered with a skilful depiction of the bird. The details of the ibis are practically as vivid as in Audubon’s illustration.

Interestingly, the Birds of America is not merely a stylistic exercise. A significant feature is the upgraded ETA 2892 inside that has a 53-56 hour power reserve,  a significant enhancement over the standard 44 hours, which was achieved with in-house upgrades according to RGM. 

This release is priced at U$17,900, and comparable commissions depicting others birds from Audubon’s book will cost similar. It’s more affordable than comparable watches from established Swiss brands, making it a relatively good value proposition.

After Audubon

The latest release is based on a plate depicting the glossy ibis in The Birds of America, the landmark work by French-American artist and naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851). RGM founder Roland G. Murphy, himself an amateur photographer with a passion for wildlife, chose this particular species for this watch.

RGM is of course not the only brand to have turned to Audubon for inspiration. The best known is the “Birds of America” series made by Vacheron Constantin in the late 1990s that reproduced Audubon’s drawings in cloisonné enamel.

Plate featuring the glossy ibis reproduced in John James Audubon’s Birds of America from 1837. Image – The National Gallery of Art

RGM adapted the artwork to suit the round dial of the time-only Model 25, which is often the base for the brand’s decorative timepieces. According to RGM, the ibis dial was hand-painted on mother-of-pearl by female artisan from France whose identity the brand has not disclosed.

The process starts with the artist sketching an outline on the mother-of-pearl with a pencil. She then fills in segments of the outline with acrylic paint. Following that, the dial is fired in an oven heated to 90°C to set the paint. This cycle is repeated up to 20 times to achieve the vivid colors of the final product.

Except for the painted miniature, the Birds of America retains the elements of the Model 25, including the discreet silver chapter ring with the minute scale.

It also features the same Breguet-inspired case design with a fluted band. The steel case measures 40 mm in diameter and 10.4 mm thick. Unlike more affordable RGM models that rely on imported cases, the Model 25 utilises a case made in the United States.

The watch is equipped with an ETA 2892-A2 that’s been upgraded by RGM. The brand replaces the stock winding system was replaced and modifies the barrel to increase the power reserve to between 53 and 56 hours, compared to 44 hours for a stock ETA 2892-A2. RGM also installs a solid gold rotor made in-house.

Key facts and price

RGM Model 25 “Birds of America (Glossy Ibis)”

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.4 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Modified ETA 2892-A2
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds 
 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 53-56 hours

Strap: Leather or rubber strap
Limited edition: No, but custom dials available upon commission
Availability: Direct from RGM Watches
Price: US$17,900 for a comparable custom order

For more, visit rgmwatches.com.


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